ARCH ENEMY / DEVILDRIVER / SKELETONWITCH / CHTHONIC
Date: 04th October, 2011
Venue: House Of Blues
Ticket: $25 (€19)
DimK: This was a very promising billing and apart from the ‘big’ names (ARCH ENEMY, DEVILDRIVER) I was very interested to watch CHTHONIC and SKELETONWITCH. But this was another all ages show (it’s not a big secret that ARCH ENEMY attract younger metalheads here in the States) taking place during another working day. Plus, getting downtown during rush hour can be a big time consuming monster and in cases a nerve wrecking procedure. So, based on the above, it was impossible to get on time at House Of Blues to watch the two supporting bands and it was a miracle that we arrived just to watch the last minutes of SKELETONWITCH. Fortunately, we are going to have the chance to catch them onstage again, supporting KVELERTAK in a few days, hehe...
MariaV: I had the opportunity to watch DEVILDRIVER twice in the past and I was pretty aware of their intense onstage performance that is more than energetic, driving their fans absolutely crazy. So, following precisely the timetable, the groove band from California took over the stage that was completely ready with that big black banner in the back (with the latest album’s title filled up in blood), with an obvious high mood to play modern up tempo Metal. “Dead To Rights” from “Beast” was the selected track that opened their set and the perfect sound helped them to deliver chaos in the front rows where almost no one obeyed HOB’s rules about crowd surfing, making security guys’ life difficult. Dez Fafara seems to know what he’s got to do while onstage and the gathered audience didn’t take them long to start pushing and pulling all around inside the big mosh-pit in the center.
Without a pause, since the time for DEVILDRIVER’s set was limited (40 minutes are surely not enough to serve their groovy Thrash style), the US band hit us with the exhilarating “Clouds Over California” and the modern sounding “I Could Care Less” with the mind-blowing intro riff, while the venue started to look like a really Hell’s pit. DEVILDRIVER hit our necks before saying goodbye with “Before The Hangman's Noose”. But, it seemed the band had time for one more and this was the evening’s highlight and my personal favorite “Pray For Villains”. So, after energy driven setlist the US band left all of us sweaty and definitely warmed up for the Swedish/English melodic Death metallers ARCH ENEMY (I can tell you that there were so many young girls Angela’s wannabes inside HOB that night) who were about to follow, closing that aggressive and bloody as shit evening. Without any doubt, DEVILDRIVER stole the best of our impressions and I hope to watch them in a headlining performance really really soon.
01. “Dead To Rights”
02. “Clouds Over California”
03. “I Could Care Less”
04. “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”
05. “Head On To Heartache”
06. “Before The Hangman's Noose”
07. “Pray For Villains”
(click to enlarge)
DimK: Yep, DEVILDRIVER met my expectations and confirmed that this is a band to watch in clubs and not in open air festivals. Taking advantage of the 20 minutes break, I got the chance to look around the really young audience that was already sweaty after ‘amateur’ mosh-pits and crowd surfing. During the break, the filling-the-gap music featured DESTRUCTION (“Bestial Invasion”) and CANDLEMASS (“Demon’s Gate”) and there I was looking surprised (well, not that much) since the youngsters did not react at those tracks. Yes, these girls and guys have no proper Metal education and have sacrifice in the mainstream altar most of the historic bands of this scene... But this is part of evolution and how things work in the US. With all these thoughts circling around my old brain, I did not realize that there was a 10 minutes delay in the schedule. This may sound ridiculous to some but when you have to comply with the city’s curfew, it can be a pain in the ass.
Nevertheless, the lights went out around 8:15pm and the curtain revealed the new stage set, featuring artwork inspired from the new album. There was a rather small projection screen showing some pictures and lyrics from the songs that added some dynamics to the show, but not that much as I expected from the sayings of Michael Amott (you can read the interview HERE). The “Khaos Overture” was the preamble for “Yesterday Is Dead And Gone” that set the venue on fire from the very beginning. To my disappointment the light show was inferior to the previous ARCH ENEMY show I have attended, making it impossible to take decent no-flash pictures and later on to watch the show. I really hate when I cannot distinguish the faces of the band members that get lost inside the artificial smoke. Fortunately, the poor light show had nothing to do with the excellent sound that balanced the aggressive and the melody of ARCH ENEMY. Once again, the Amott brothers delivered with easy and amazing dexterity the shredding/sweeping riff work that has been the trademark characteristics of the late ARCH ENEMY sound.
As expected the enthusiasm hit the roof top levels when Angela showed up making everyone scream their lungs out. Don’t get me wrong here but I cannot say that Angela is a great frontwoman. Ok, the vocals are powerful with passion and plenty of aggression, but the onstage presence leaves the audience disconnected and in general looks very professional. In fact, the entire band looks very professional with all the rehearsed moves and pre-defined breaks-to-talk to the crowd. I consider the onstage professionalism as a two sided coin; the first is the best performance possible in every live date and the second deals with the aforementioned isolated onstage presence that is not possible get someone moved if he is not a fan of the band. In the end, this is a matter of taste and personal perspective... so, feel free to choose.
“My Apocalypse” with the “Matrix” looking projections and the green lights was a killer moment, while “Ravenous” was received as it should; massive mosh-pit in the center and a great deal of crowd surfing that to my surprise was allowed by the House Of Blues staff that used to be very strict to these matters. Leaving aside Daniel Erlandsson who was stuck behind his drum kit, I’d say that Sharlee D'Angelo was the driving force for ARCH ENEMY looking absolutely energized with moves that did not look that rehearsed. As I said, the guitar duo sounded absolutely great but their moves were limited getting on the center of the stage only during the solos.
Just before the groovy “Under Black Flags We March”, Angela took some time to talk to the audience about International Amnesty and how we all should support the human rights all around the globe. The song that followed and the pictures of war on the screen underlined once again how stupid the human kind is, spending millions of dollars in high tech killing machines and leaving humans to starve to death. And “Dead Eyes See No Future” came as the perfect fit, since there is no dreaming about future if there is no life in you. Hands down, these two tracks were the climax of the band’s set and I really wonder how many got the message right... The guitar solos that followed were pretty good featuring precise finger work but lacked of the melody and groove from past versions.
As I said, there was a 10 minutes delay, so ARCH ENEMY step things up and delivered the following songs with limited pauses in between reaching the end of the regular setlist with another great track, “We Will Rise”. You have to excuse me here when I say that listening to this song I started wondering if people have the mentality to really rise against all the crap the politicians are putting everyone through this economic crisis that was created by others and is taking the toll in the middle classes.
“Snow Bound” brought the band onstage to deliver the ‘one more song’ that everyone was asking for. The nice projections and the killer guitar sound created a nice atmosphere minutes before the fast and heavy “Nemesis” that exploded inside the battle field of House Of Blues. The guitar leads and Angela’s deep growls were the best way to end another very good (but not excellent) show from ARCH ENEMY. I was satisfied by what I watched but I was not surprised at all. Everything was delivered like before, following the pattern I have seen in past shows and the live filmed DVD. It’s shame but it I think it’s true; this band is kind of underestimates itself and does less than it is capable of. Again this just me speaking here...
ARCH ENEMY setlist:
01. “Yesterday Is Dead And Gone”
02. “Enemy Within”
03. “My Apocalypse”
05. “Bloodstained Cross”
06. “Taking Back My Soul”
07. “Under Black Flags We March”
08. “Dead Eyes See No Future”
09. “I Am Legend” / “Out For Blood”
10. “No Gods, No Masters”
11. “Dead Bury Their Dead”
12. “We Will Rise”
13. “Snow Bound”
(click to enlarge)