This is a night of Scandinavian Metal bands as three of them hit Rock City, Nottingham.
It was good to see a large crowd had already gathered by the time the doors opened at 17:30. Testament to the fan base of these 3 bands, some of whom had travelled to Nottingham for the day so as not to miss any of it.
Headliners from Sweden ARCH ENEMY pushing their latest offering; ‘WILL TO POWER’ would have to wait until Finish Folk Metal band WINTERSUN with their latest album, ‘The Forest Seasons’, had played a sixty-minute set. Before them Swedish band TRIBULATION with their new album ‘DOWN BELOW’. Sadly, Tribulation only had a thirty-minute set starting at 17:55, people were still getting into the venue when they struck up.
With Tribulation hitting the stage on time with their painted faces and animated guitarists it was a shame to see that most of their set would be engulfed in FOG and heavy Red and Green lighting. A note to the lighting tech about showing the band off especially during the first three songs would be a good idea.
That aside they put on an admirable showing, obviously a crowd favourite judging by the venue’s reaction. Playing just seven songs, of which only three, opener ‘LADY DEATH’, ‘NIGHTBRUND’ and set closer ‘THE LAMENT came from their new album ‘DOWN BELOW’. A clever balance of old and new gave the crowd what they wanted. ‘SUSPIRIA DE PROFUNDIS’ being the only song off their debut album ‘THE FORMULAS of DEATH’ released in 2013, and from the 2015 album, ‘THE CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT’ they played ’MELANCHOLIA’, THE MOTHERHOOD OF GOD’ and ‘STRANGE GATEWAY BECKONS’.
Guitarist Jonathan Huttén danced his way through the entire thirty minutes cutting some formidable shapes, his guitar nearly colliding with the lens of a ‘Togger’ in the pit, such was his extrovert ‘dad dancing’ to the crowd.
A quick change over and we had Finnish Folk Metal Band, WINTERSUN receiving a rousing roar from the now full Rock City as they came on stage. Thankfully the Fog had subsided to a more geriatric mist. We could see all on the stage even if occasionally blinded by the aircraft tied up behind them when it turned on its landing lights.
Jari Mäenpää paraded across the stage arms often out stretched, looking like a young Biff Bifford of Saxon fame, its only when he started to sing did you realise that he wasn’t from the same gene pool. Polar opposite voices is the simplest way to describe the sounds from their lungs. Swedish metal seems to have a perchance for deep guttural growling noises and these where no exception!
They put on a sixty-minute set worthy of any headline act let alone a support band. The twin guitars sounding excellent, almost reminiscent of early 80’s metal band Anthrax at times, in their clean technical ability, speed and sound. Throw in a pulsing bassline and a fast double bass drum and you get the idea.
Playing for an hour they managed to squeeze in six songs from their back catalogue. Starting with ‘AWAKEN FROM THE DARK SLUMBER (spring)’ from 2017’s THE FOREST SEASONS, all fourteen plus minutes of it we then went back in time to 2004 and ‘WINTER MADNESS’ from ‘WINTER SUN’ then ‘SONS OF WINTER AND STARS’ from 2012’s TIME 1. ‘LONELINESS’ (winter) again from the latest album THE FOREST SEASONS, finishing off with BATTLE AGAINST TIME from WINTER SUN and TIME from TIME 1. A definite theme running through their clever set.
Another quick change over and we have Motorheads ‘Ace of Spades’ being played loud over the house PA system. A sure indication that tonight’s headliners ‘Arch Enemy are about to hit the stage.
Arch Enemy have been going since 1995 and up to 2014 the singing duties have been handled, firstly by Johan Liiva and then in 2000 by German Angela Gossow. Gossow left in 2014 and was replaced by Alissa White-Gluz, Gossow, however, remained as the bands manager. In the same year guitarist Nick Cordle decided he would leave the band during the North American leg of the ‘War Eternal’ tour. He apparently walked off stage in San Fransisco with songs still too played in the set. Jeff Loomis joined the band for the remainder of the tour and officially joined the band during the European tour with Kreator.
The current band line up being Michael Amott guitar, Daniel Erlandsson drums, Sharlee D’Angelo Bass guitar, Alissa White-Gluz vocals and Jeff Loomis guitars.
With yet another Taped intro, this time Set Flame to The Night, Enemy now come on stage to huge cheers. Dropping straight into ‘THE WORLD IS YOURS’ from the 2017 album ‘Will to Power’ see’s White-Gluz in fine form.
Fast metal guitars, screaming highs and the obligatory fast double bass herald the start to this, the first track from the new album. Loomis plays an inspired riff reminiscent of 80’s cock rock on steroids, White-Gluz joins in. She catches me out every time as she growls her way through the lyrics. A diminutive power house of a voice, blue hair swirling as she commands the stage. The charisma that she oozes is palpable, I stand mesmerised as she patrols the stage mic twirling, high kicking, hair wind milling at times, a complete front woman with experience. And then the chorus a softly spoken part polar opposites to what she’s just been growling. The guitars have slowed to a melodic harmony showing their mastery of Melodic Metal, and then Amott throws in a blinding solo showing the other side of the stage can rock too. An excellent opening song choice.
‘RAVENOUS’ from the 2001 album ‘WAGES OF SIN’ follows, a faster, if that’s at all possible, song again driven by the relentless double bass of Erlandsson. A crowd favourite. The fans chanting the bridge back to band as it takes on a melodic harmonised riff. White-Gluz instructs the crowd to get their hands together as Loomis and Amott play the slower harmony which leads into a lightning fast arpeggio run which leaves you gasping for breath. Another classic choice.
One thing is apparent and that is the diminutive white-Gluz must have amazing neck muscles as well as vocal chords of steel. During guitar breaks she’s to be seen wind milling her hair, may not sound like much but to do it through a 90-minute show, night after night must take its toll.
Repeatedly screaming out “I CAN’T HEAR YOU NOTTIGHAM’ has the crowd bouncing and returning her screams. Strutting around the stage, mic stand in had or twirling the microphone, she totally smashes her way through the set. Dressed in her now trademark ripped lycra, she continues to growl her way through the back catalogue of fan favourites which include ‘WAR ETERNAL’, ‘THE EAGLE FLIES ALONE’, ‘WE WILL RISE’ and ‘FIELDS OF DESOLATION’ from the debut album BLACK EARTH.
It is obvious that White-Gluz deserves the QUEEN of METAL that has been bestowed on her. She never stopped entertaining for the full set, hair flying everywhere. Her band, technically superb, playing inspired riffs that hint of so many other bands but never sounding like them. The twin guitars of Amott and Loomis swoop and soar, thrashing out delicious melodies punctuated by moments of lunacy that weave and carve their way around White-Gluz growls
Arch Enemy are at the top of their game, Melodic Death Metal is alive and well in Nottingham. A great night of Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal.
And after Alissa screaming ‘I CAN’T HEAR YOU NOTTINGHAM’ repeatedly I can assure you, Alissa, even though I wore ear plugs, I could hear you all the way home!
Words & pix: Manny Manson