TOUR: Arch Enemy
SUPPORT: All That Remains, Mnemic, A Perfect Murder
VENUE: Slim's -- San Francisco, CA
DATE: Monday, November 14th, 2005
ATTENDED W/: Solo
GEAR WORN: Megadeth Hoodie Over Edguy Hellfire Tour 2005 Shirt
MERCH PURCHASED: None
MOSHING REPORT: Light
EDDIES AWARDED: 8.375
REVIEWED: November 17th, 2005
Can I get a collective “Holy shit! Pavo is writing again!” This is my first review in months, and I’m backlogged about fifteen shows. Thank God for my sacred note book of set lists and concert notes. I’ll probably write the missing-in-action out of order but they’ll all end up in the Permanent Record in the proper place.
Arch Enemy is one of my favorite bands of all time. Iron Maiden introduced them to Maidendom on their Dance Of Death Tour in late 2003 when Arch Enemy provided support on several dates. I caught them live for the first time in January of 2004 in Hollywood at the Univeral Amphitheater, but given my ever so slight level of intoxication, they didn’t exactly impress me. Despite my initial rejection and repulsion, the melody and keyboards on Wages of Sin (2001) and Anthems Of Rebellion (2003) steadily grew on me. I even began to understand Angela’s growlings on several songs. In late 2004, a bunch of us saw them play the House of Blues at Disneyland, supporting Cradle Of Filth. Here’s what I wrote about them then
To metal fans everywhere: if you don’t own Wages Of Sin and Anthems of Rebellion, stop your game of pocket pool and go buy them. If you don’t have the money, fast for a day and buy them from the used bin.
To Arch Enemy: get your asses back in the studio and deliver another masterpiece. And then stop this support shit in America; it’s time to headline the venues you’ve been playing. You fucking rule!
Before Angela Gassow joined the band, Arch Enemy produced three albums with another vocalist, Johan Liiva. I purchased Black Earth (1996), Stigmata (1998), and Burning Bridges(1999) in 2004 but didn’t listen to and love them until earlier this year. Black Earth now ranks as of my favorite more extreme albums of all time. Bury Me An Angel and Idolatress just give me wood. And then there are the covers (also on Black Earth) of Maiden’s Ides Of March and Aces High...
So you can now imagine my excitement when Doomsday Machine came out last July. However, I was a bit disappointed in consideration of what I had been listening to in Black Earth. The new stuff just sounded a little... well, soft. I still listen to it a ton but it’s also missing the keyboards I liked so much from previous Angela Arch Enemy tracks. About a month after that, Arch Enemy opened my first Ozzfest (of the three in California) in Mountain View at 9:15 AM on a Saturday morning. After their way-too-brief four song set, I was ready for a cigarette. (I don’t smoke.) There is nothing like the smell of fresh death metal in the morning. God damn, what a great set that was. You’ll read about it soon. It’s one of my MIA reviews. So you can now truly understand my excitement when Arch Enemy announced their headlining US tour the first week of October. I must have blacked out from the giddiness but I kept enough control not to shit my pants.
Fast forward now to Monday, November 14th, 2005, the day of the show. Due to last minute complications with Lokia’s schedule, I flew solo to Slim’s. Worse yet, I actually barely decided to even attend the show. Two weeks prior, I began formal training for the Big Sur Marathon. That on top of other P.T. and bad stress, my body felt like a train wreck and I had almost zero motivation for anything beyond sleep. The reason I went? Life is too fucking short not to... my favorite bands don't come to San Francisco everyday. I showed up late enough to miss A Perfect Murder entirely and most of Mnemic’s set, so I'm not going to comment on them.
All That Remains crossed my path on two previous occasions, both GWAR concerts, one in Hollywood and another in Santa Cruz. I've never written much about them because metalcore is just not my thing. Some bands in the genre have grown on me and this is one of them, although not enough to go buy their albums and listen to them incessantly. Maybe I'll buy one some day -- no promises either way. Philip Labonte continues to impress me with his energy as their frontman. Matt Deis left the band for CKY, so I saw a new face on bass in Jeanne Sagan. Even though I missed Matt, it’s always a smart move to put a girl on the bass to get my attention. What Jeanne lacked in Matt's stage presence, she made up for it in her enthusiasm by singing along silently with Philip. That fucking rocks. Out-fucking-standing, Jeanne!
As soon as All That Remains hit the stage, the crowd at Slim’s stopped picking their noses and briefly looked like a metal crowd. A pit exploded seconds into the opener but only lasted another song or so because of the fat sumo fucks just being dicks to everyone, including one young girl who got slammed into a support column. I wasn’t familiar with the opener but Philip did a pretty good job of announcing the song titles:
(I don't know)
Focus Shall Not Fail
The Deepest Grey
This Calling (NEW SONG PREVIEWED)
Tattered On My Sleeve
This Darkened Heart (Best Guess))
Slim’s put the merch stands for the support bands upstairs away from the main floor and the crowd. I just imagine most of these guys didn’t make shit and that’s unfortunate because of how support rely on their merch sales just to survive. To read a little more about, read this interview with Philip at www.metalunderground.com
. Arch Enemy’s merch stand was located near the main entrance. Most everything was priced at $25, except for one long sleeve ($30) and beanies ($15). Nothing has struck me as a must-have, so I held off buying anything. Maybe next time although I’ve been buying less and less merch at concerts.
The stage at Slim’s is not very expansive, giving bands no room for any sort of production beyond playing. Arch Enemy tossed up a logo tour banner for a backdrop and masked their amps and stacks with cloth screens. Unfortunately, the graphics on the screens reminded me more of Castle Greyskull than the stark doomsday landscape (with singular skull castle built into a hill) that the artists intended.
Arch Enemy played the same basic set list that was previously reported by ADD, so I'm guestimating. I thought I knew their catalog much better than I actually do. I can recognize 90% of their music, but some song titles just escape me, even though I know exactly on which album they appear. Many thanks to Lokia for texting ADD's Syndey set list to me minutes before the show. It made keeping notes a lot easier and I didn’t have to fuss as much with my notebook. All that said and disclaimed, the set list:
Dead Eyes See No Future
Taking Back My Soul
(Solo, Michael Amott)
Bury Me An Angel
(Solo, Fredrik Åkesson)
Dead Bury Their Dead
I Am Legend/ Out for Blood
We Will Rise
PA after concert: Enter The Machine
Angela was SMOKIN’ HOT, wearing a thin brown sweater and jeans. I’ve seen her looking far more metal during past shows but the moment she put the mic up to her mouth and started to growl, the clothes ceased to matter. This lady can growl with the best of them. No matter how many times I listen to their studio work or see them in concert, I am stupified that a woman can make her voice go so deep and rough. Her fronting skills continue to improve and amaze. When she scowls, you can’t help but throw up the horns in self-defense and respect. Several times, she went off stage a la James LaBrie of Dream Theater because of the three band solos (two guitar and one drum) plus the instrumental pieces.
Death metal’s premier female growler gets a lot attention but it’s Michael Amott that owns the Arch Enemy stage the way Steve Harris owns Maiden’s. His position is stage right, seemingly a bit off center. Arch Enemy’s bass and other guitar player were mainly stage left, their combined presence seemed countered Michael’s weight.
Michael’s brother, Christopher, left the band last summer to pursue studies. That’s laudable on it own right, but I would have nonetheless like to see what kind of chemistry they had on stage. Their new guitar player, Fredik Akesson, performed well enough but remains fairly anonymous in my mind’s eye with the exception of his late-in-the-show guitar solo.
Daniel Erlandsson is Arch Enemy’s drummer, and he is just fucking SICK.
I remained in roughly the same position as I held for All That Remains for the first two songs but moved back a bit and around as I sought my own personal headbanging bubble space. Perhaps my fatal flaw of this show was not fighting my way to the rail and really cutting loose. Instead, I worried about writing down the set list and let stupid shit bother me. I never managed any concert euphoria whatsoever. With the encores loomng, I actually wanted to eject early but needed the final songs for my report here. That's so wrong.
Arch Enemy’s sound was fucking horrible to my ears. I could easily give the band a pass and blame fading vocals and instruments on the house sound engineer, but it goes deeper. At some points in the evening, the band just sounded thin. To make matters worse, Michael’s tones at times seemed off-key, out of tune, or just different enough from their recorded studio counterparts to REALLY piss me off.
Arch Enemy Johan is a completely different band than Angela Arch Enemy but I had massive expectations for Bury Me An Angel (“SET MY BLACK SOUL FREE!” Sorry, couldn’t help that.) Heaviness wasn’t a problem; hell, I was thrilled with that. Angela was one the let me down. The sonic metal barrage overwhelmed her vocals completely. I should be completely honest about her biggest crime: she’s not Johan and her interpretation just didn’t work me.
Arch Enemy’s final encore was We Will Rise, one of everybody’s favorites from Anthems but even it sounded off to my ears. The synths that give it an eerie aura were totally lacking. I’ve heard this track twice before live. I know what it is supposed to sound like live, and I didn’t hear that in San Francisco.
I’m tipping my hand on an unwritten review but at Ozzfest on a cold and foggy Saturday out of the gate, Arch Enemy delivered the goods, easily earning 9 Eddies, 10 Eddies representing ANY Iron Maiden performance because Iron Maiden is the standard by which all metal should be judged. For San Francisco, Arch Enemy is only walking with 8.375. Someone had a bad night, Maybe it was the band. Perhaps, it was Slim’s. Most likely, it was just me.