I’ll spare you the whole “It’s Monday” cliché.
When a band like ARCH ENEMY comes to town, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Monday, Wednesday, Sunday or the goddamn Judgement Day. When a band like Arch Enemy comes to town you don’t make excuses, you make plans. Fortunately, the people at the band’s show in Belgrade on September 18th seemed to share the same attitude. Right at the start, the street around the Belgrade Youth center venue where the concert was taking place was packed with metalheads making their final preparations before the show (read: getting hammered).
This was the band’s fourth show on their current tour promoting their latest release, “Will to Power”, the first to feature the acclaimed shredded Jeff Loomis, formerly of Nevermore, and the second since the charismatic Alissa White-Gluz took over the vocal duties. The two have joined the fold of long-standing members Michael Ammot on guitars, Daniel Erlandsson on drums and Sharlee D’Angelo on bass. Their support comes from the up and coming Ukrainian metalcore act JINJER.
Having already played in Serbia a couple of times, Jinjer has already established a solid fan base who turned up to support the band on this incredibly important tour for them. Apart from supporting one of the most important modern melodic death metal acts today, the band got the chance to promote their Napalm Records debut and sophomore album “King of Everything” to a much wider audience. Fronted by the incredibly adorable Tatiana Shmayluk, the band led us through a number of tracks from their latest release, their debut and the EP’s they had released in between. And while Tatiana was teeming with energy, engaging with fans left and right, her bandmates were a tad bit more static, focused on their instruments instead. Given that they were only the support act, the venue was packed solid with the crowd engaging in moshes and loud ovations.
The crew did not take long to adapt the stage for the headliners. The quiet chit-chat was interrupted by the loud, thundering “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC played on the sound system, announcing the start of the show. Immediately after, “Set Flame to the Night” the thundering intro to the “Will to Power” echoed throughout the hall, as the audience welcomed the band to the smoke-filled stage. “This is War Eternal“, Alissa screamed later in the set as the band busted out the title track off of their previous release. Even though “Will to Power” was released just over a week ago and is still fresh, the band put the most focus on the highly acclaimed debut with Alissa on vocals. Alissa is a relentless, elusive presence on stage (just ask any photographer), but her vocals are constantly on point even though her vocal style is quite different to her predecessor.
Even though the charismatic girl with her trademark blue hair has already fronted the band for three years, Alissa still has a lot more to prove. After all, she’s filling the enormous shoes of the tiny-footed Angela Gossow, one of the most iconic women in the metal scene. Angela was an idol to many women who did not want to take the operatic, diva path but wanted to be treated with equal respect as any hardcore dude in the metal scene. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that some still can’t cope with the change. But, to be honest, Alissa gives her 110%, determined to change your opinion.
Melody is a huge part of Arch Enemy’s sound, therefore it should go unsaid that Michael Ammot and Jeff Loomis were on the level, weaving their crushing riffs and light speed solos into the band’s music tapestry. Loomis is a great fit for the band, although anyone familiar with his skill and style like myself cannot help but feel like he’s restraining from unleashing his full shredding power in all its glory. Still, Ammot and Loomis are a great pair and their chemistry can be both seen and heard. Backed by a tight rhythm section in D’Angelo and Erlandsson, the band sounded like a well-oiled metal machine. I have to stress that the sound engineer did an amazing job in bringing out all the instruments in what was one of the best sounds this venue has ever heard.
I met a friend at the bar while getting a beer, and he told me that I should write an entire live review dedicated to the crowd. And while that’s not far from the truth, I’ll only devote this paragraph to the people who made this possible: us. The crowd was enthusiastic throughout both performances, the spirits were high, and people definitely seemed hungry for this type of sound. All around people were smiling as the bands would bust out their favorite tune. If there’s one thing about the show nobody can complain about, it’s the audience.
“How many of you have never seen Arch Enemy before,” Alissa asked, and the majority of the crowd responded inaudibly, but probably confirming that this is their first time seeing the legendary band live. Let’s just hope that Alissa’s promise they will be back were not just empty words, as both the band and the audience enjoyed the great energy both helped create and we definitely need more of that.
I’ll spare you the “now back to your everyday lives” cliché.