For many modern metal fans, the day the world saw a tour consisting of Sweden’s metal maestros, Meshuggah, and the Washington D.C. based progressive fusion band Animals As Leaders seemed like nothing more than a dream. However, to the delight of fans all across the United States, both bands proudly announced at the end of last year that this tour would become a reality and this weekend the tour rolled into New York City to take the Big Apple by storm. One fan called it “unbelievable”, another called it his “one wish in life before I die”, and even Animals As Leaders guitarist Tosin Abasi couldn’t help but smile at the nearly sold out crowd and say “you’re all in for perhaps the best metal show you will ever get to see”.
Opening the tour, dubbed The Ophidian Trek 2013: 2nd Slithering, was Los Angeles based prog-rockers Intronaut. With their low tuned guitars and southern boogie, it was clear that the band drew as much inspiration from a band like Meshuggah as they did from bands such as High On Fire and Clutch. While very few people in the crowd knew Intronaut prior to the show, their impeccable blend of progressive metal and southern rock captivated the crowd and left the audience wanting more upon the conclusion of their thirty minute set.
Unlike the other bands on the tour, Animals As Leaders is a strictly instrumental band, however with their brilliant hybrid of metal and jazz, the band quickly got the crowd moving by starting the set off with “Earth Departure”, one of their heaviest songs to date. An almost perfectly crafted set list included some of their biggest songs such as “Tempting Time”, “Wave Of Babies”, and “An Infinite Regression” and even treated diehard fans to some rarely played songs such as “Do Not Go Gently”, “New Eden”, and the title track off their last album, “Weightless”. However, the biggest moment of the night came when Animals As Leaders ended their set with “C.A.F.O”, setting the crowd off in a fury of flying arms and legs, body slams, and pure emotion.
The minutes between Animals As Leaders’ set and Meshuggah’s set were perhaps the most tense moments of the night as fans waited with baited breath to see whether or not Meshuggah vocalist Jens Kidman would be performing. Not yet a week into the tour, Kidman came down with the flu and was forced to sit out for several shows, hoping to recover with each passing day and even in an interview on the day of the show with the Village Voice, Meshuggah guitarist Mårten Hagström could not confirm Kidman’s participation that night. Yet as the lights dimmed and the four other members of the band took their place on stage, a deafening roar of approval came from the crowd as a tired but determined looking Jens Kidman joined his band with a microphone in hand. For the next hour and a half, Meshuggah performed one of their heaviest sets to date, which consisted of seven songs off their latest album “Koloss”. Fans were also delighted to hear songs off their often forgotten “Catch 33” album as well as two of their biggest songs “Bleed” and “New Millennium Cyanide Christ”, the latter of which featured Intronaut vocalist Sacha Dunable taking over for Kidman.