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AFTERNOIZ Archive

Arch Enemy/Kreator, Baltimore Soundstage, USA, October 23, 2014

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Arch Enemy/Kreator, Baltimore Soundstage, USA, October 23, 2014 Joe Prostredny

It has been three years since Arch Enemy toured North America and a lot has changed since then.  Guitarist Christopher Amott left the band ( a second time) in 2012 and was  replaced by Nick Cordle.  The bands vocalist for the last 14 years,  Angela Gossow, announced her departure this spring to take over management duties.  Her replacement was Alissa White-Gluz, formerly of The Agonist and occasional backup vocalist for Kamelot.  Unfortunately, I was never able to see the Angela fronted version of Arch Enemy due to schedule conflicts, but I was very excited when I heard Alissa was taking over her vocal duties.  Alissa is a great death metal vocalist and an incredible front woman.  In my opinion, the perfect person for the job. 

The Baltimore show was the first date of the North American tour and there were some technical problems (related to the soundboard not working properly).  Although this was fixed prior to show time, it caused the show to start late which affected the set length for the earlier bands.  The first band up was Starkill, a relatively new four piece American melodic death metal band that I had not heard of before this tour.  I believe they were supposed to have a 5-6 song set, but they were told to cut it to two songs because the show started late.  They, understandably, weren’t happy with the shortened set, but the two songs they did play sounded good with variation between clean and death metal vocals, as well as great guitar work.  It’s hard to form much of an opinion of a band based on two songs, but I liked what I heard and hope I can hear them perform a longer set at some point in the future.

Next up was Huntress, a five piece classic metal band from California.  The band is fronted by Jill Janus, whose common on stage persona is that of an old witch crone complete with long nails, blackened fingers, and blackened teeth.  I was familiar with Huntress, having bought their albums on a recommendation from a friend.  I thought their live performance was great, if not a little creepy.  Both the vocals and the music were good, but the band did seem a little hampered by the small amount of stage they had left to use after four bands worth of equipment were squeezed in.  The set list I saw was for six songs, but they only played five… which I assume was also due to the late start of the show.  The songs performed included the title track from their debut album, “Spelleater”, as well as “Destroy Your Life”, “Zenith”, and Black Tongue”.  The final song was “I Want to F* You to Death” which Jill co-wrote with Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.  Unfortunately, “Eight of Swords” was dropped from the set due to what I assume were the time constraints.  I was looking forward to seeing Huntress live, and they didn’t disappoint (except for the short set).

In direct support to Arch Enemy were the German thrash metal titans, Kreator.  Kreator have been a major presence in the thrash metal world for over three decades and have released 13 studio albums to date.  Although they never obtained the mega-band status that bands like Slayer and Metallica achieved, they still developed a solid, respectable following here in North America as well as in Europe , and it was very obvious that a large percentage of the audience were there just to see them.  They played an impressively long set (I believe it was 12 songs) for an opening band.  The audience was loud and the band fed off the energy.  The vocalist, Mille Petrozza, made the entire audience separate off to each side of the venue, and then come rushing back together to form a giant circle mosh pit.  Songs played included old favorites as well as newer songs.  Most of the songs played were title tracts from their albums, including:  “Violent Revolution” “Extreme Aggression”, “Enemy of God”, “Endless Pain”, “Phantom Antichrist”, and “Pleasure to Kill”.   Other songs included: “Civilization Collapse”, “Impossible Brutality”, “Voices of the Dead”, “Victory Will Come”, “Phobia”, and “Hordes of Chaos”.  It was a great, crushing set…… musically….  The problem though, was the lighting.  There were very bright backlights that were aimed out toward the audience, that were right at eye level for the people in the first few rows.  I doubt this was an issue for the fans in the back, but the lights were so bright, I had to shield my eyes or stare at the ground for a large portion of the set…  which made it impossible to really enjoy the performance.

The final band of the night was Arch Enemy. The band I really came to see!! Their set started with “Enemy Within” and the band hit the stage with ferocity.  I have always enjoyed Alissa’s stage presence when I’ve seen her perform with other bands in the past and, as expected, she took complete command of the audience from the moment she hit the stage.  The  lyrics were so loud and raw, it seemed impossible that they could be coming from such a small frame.  Many people have compared Alissa’s appearance to Katy Perry, and you could almost mistake her for the pop diva…. until she opens her mouth and unleashes the demons of hell!  The dueling lead guitars of Michael and Nick were sweet and melodic, yet frantic and heavy. Sharlee’s driving bass and the brutal cadence of Daniel’s drumming completed the sound.   I’ve always considered Arch Enemy to be my favorite death metal band and their live performance did nothing except enforce that opinion.  The show continued with the title tract of the new album, “War Eternal”.  Other songs from the new album included “You Will Know My Name” and “As the Pages Burn”.  There were 17 songs in all which included many old favorites such as “Ravenous”, “Revolution Begins”, “We Will Rise”, “My Apocalypse”, “Nemesis”, “Blood On Your Hands”, and “Yesterday Is Dead And Gone”.  The audience thrived on the stage energy and Alissa encouraged many sing- a- longs (or is it growl-a-longs?).  It was a great show by a fantastic band.

If you are in North America, and you didn’t see this show yet…you missed out because the tour has already ended.  You can still catch Arch Enemy, however, on the 70,000 tons of metal cruise in January!  For those of you in Europe, Arch Enemy and Kreator will continue to tour together on their European tour through the end of December.  Don’t miss out!!


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