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Gig Review/Feature ... Arch Enemy

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Manchester Academy, 25 April 2008

Photos by Noel Buckley


In November 2007, Arch Enemy were part of the Black Crusade metal circus with Trivium and Machine Head, but their set clocked in at a mere thirty minutes. Hardly enough to get the tubes warmed, and short-change I am sure for many.

I asked Michael Amott before this penultimate Defenders of the Faith gig whether the metal multi-billing is inevitable these days. He believes it gives fans a chance to see a number of bands, which is fair enough, but surely Arch Enemy are headliners in their own right and merit a full set?

The band were alternating the "top" slot with the excellent Opeth but nevertheless - with the 11 o'clock curfew and a slightly late start - they barely played an hour and with no encore.

For the Arch Enemy fan, their performance encompassed most of their "classic" tracks including material from "Doomsday Machine" but not as much as you might expect from the current "Rise Of The Tyrant".

I've always thought that there is one helluva melodic metal band trying to break out from under Angela Gossow's death metal thunder, and that deprived of guttural excess would probably widen their appeal to older buggers like myself.

The Amott brothers are both inspired by one of the great unsung melodic metal players - Europe's John Norum (and fellow countryman) - Michael called him one of the most underrated guitarists around. And that's an understatement. Whereas Michael was part of the extreme death metal movement of the late-1980s, and in our interview talks about the forthcoming Carcass reunion, Christopher has been inspired by more mainstream rock. You only have to listen to his work with Armageddon (strangely only released in Japan) to appreciate his mainstream credentials. The last album 'Three' is an absolute gem.

A pre-gig chat with Chris was illuminating too. He left Arch Enemy in 2005 to pursue other interests but was enticed back during the recording of the new album. It is obvious that he has wider visions than metal, expressing almost a cynicism about the genre, and pondering over a potential solo album after listening to Neil Young amongst others. It might be a tad softer and more subtle. As if to underline the point - shorn of the metaller's mane - he now looks more like a serious young stockbroker at a conference rather than a shredmeister on a mission.

On stage at the Manchester Academy both brothers sparred beautifully, trading ferocious, shred-infested riffs and harmonies. This interplay is one of the highlights for me, every solo is intelligently constructed and devastatingly executed against a rigid rhythm backdrop.

Angela is of course a fully engaging front-person and once you have adjusted to that guttural roar you can sometimes forget its presence, essentially she uses her voice as another instrument and it is the contrast between "the roar" and the melodic undertow that makes Arch Enemy so compelling.

The band are now off for another "sh(r)ed-tour" in the States and a round of European festivals this summer including the M.Amott/Carcass reunion. Let's hope Chris resurrects Armageddon in addition to anything quieter and that, next time in the UK, Arch Enemy play the full show they (and the fans) deserve.

Review by David Randall



All photos 2008 Noel Buckley/GRTR!
All rights reserved.

Michael Amott

Click here for Windows Media

Interview with Michael Amott
Manchester, 25.04.08 (10:00)

© 2008 David Randall/GRTR!


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