Review + Photography by by Neale Hayes

Tonight I visited the rowdy Nottingham venue Rock City to see Black Symphonic Metallers Arch Enemy. First up as main support we had Wintersun, a band I was happy to realize were supporting as I was a fan in my teenage years.

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Jari Maenpaa entered the stage in triumphant manner, arms up and grinning menacingly at the aready large crowd. ‘Awaken from the Dark Slumber’ straight off their latest release ‘The Forest Seasons’ (2017) got things going in true Folk Metal fashion. The shiny and mystical guitars, reminscient of Power Metal added a nice groove, with the keyboards giving them a true mystical feel; reminiscient of Melodic Death Metal. Jari’s lyrics reminded me of something from Cradle of Filth, dark, guttoral and sinister with occasional demonic shrieks. The orchestra feel of the clean choruses can be compared with later Dimmu Borgir material.

Wintersun (4)

Wintersun (7)

‘Winter Madness’ (2004), nicely timed early in their set for the real fans of this niche to show themselves. Fast and with a great sense of journey; the folk metal aspect was there for all to see. Wasn’t quite sure what I’d see in the crowd, moshing or morris dancing. Instead I saw some great, out-there costumes and a mixed demographic, always nice to see.

Wintersun (15)

Wintersun (20)

‘Sons of Winter and Stars’ (2012) was another great song to play to tackle with older fans of the band. The song opens with a subtle backing track with an ethereal sense to it, reminding me of the opening song to Game of Thrones. The quick blast from the guitar is epic and the song gets underway, Jari’s vocals reminding me of Children of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho; fast and with conviction. Essentially Melodic Death Metal with a strong mystical vibe, think bands like Amon Amarth. Their sound really hasn’t changed much since their earlier work, apart from becoming more Symphonic with clean vocals, much like Arch Enemy.

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Arch Enemy (5)

Arch Enemy’s drummer Daniel Erlandsson arrived onstage first, with their backing track ‘Ace of Spades’, the crowd loved it. Staggeringly, the band play songs from eight of their ten studio albums tonight, showing off their latest release ‘Will to Power’ (2016) with 3 songs, 4 from ‘War Eternal’ (2014), 3 from ‘Wages of Sin’ (2001), 2 each from ‘Anthems of Rebellion’ (2003) and ‘Doomsday Machine’ (2005), with 1 each from ‘Black Earth (1996), ‘Khaos Legions’ (2011) and ‘Rise of the Tyrant’ (2007).

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Arch Enemy (10)

Kicking off in energetic fashion, ‘The World is Yours’ (2016), the band hit hard with a strong Power Metal track, heavily influenced by Death and Black Metal. Alissa-White Gluz expertly leads from the front, showing just how popular this niche of music is. The vocals are screamed and shrieked with Michael Amott giving the song a strong folk vibe with his riffing, intertwined nicely with Jeff Loomis’ typical fast finger picking (what a solo).

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Arch Enemy (14)

‘My Apocalypse’ (2005) reminded more of black metal, older Dimmu Borgir songs come to mind. The songs are less mystical but the fans love the older material, nostalgic times for many in the room. The band keep hitting back to their newer stuff with ‘You Will Know My Name’ (2014), Alissa White-Gluz singing along with the crowd and urging them to go crazy whenever possible, the music has evidently got more accessible since the earlier stuff but that isn’t neccessarily a bad thing, even elitists couldn’t call this music less ‘metal’ than previous stuff. ‘Bloodstained Cross’ (2011), classic melodeath song if I ever heard one, reminded me of Children of Bodom, aggressive and brutal with larger than life solos and riffs.

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Arch Enemy (19)

‘The Eagle Flies Alone’ (2016) and ‘We Will Rise’ (2003) the band are well and truely killing it tonight. Alissa has taken a few moments out throughout to thank the crowd for being so energetic and welcoming them. The newer track was power metal galore, the lyrics were inspiring and triumphant, while the older track was again, a nostalgic banger, recorded with the older singer Angela. ‘We Will Rise!’ was chanted throughout the venue amongst the packed out Rock City.

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Arch Enemy (24)

Upon watching the band I got chatting to two lads from Latvia who had travelled purely to see Arch Enemy tonight, apparently they’d met a fair share of others who’d travelled from other Nordic regions. Great to see such a diverse crowd coming to Nottingham and shows that this music, although classed as ‘niche’, does have a future with such dedicated fans.

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Arch Enemy (16)

‘Nemesis’ (2005) was left right until the end and was a celebration of how far the band has come in recent years. It ensured everyone left with smiles on their faces, it is by far their most memorable song from the large back catalogue they possess.

Arch Enemy (21)

Arch Enemy (15)

Great show tonight, Alissa was great vocally and it’s great to see such a packed out venue for a Melodic Death Metal show.

See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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