Arch Enemy

o2 ABC, Glasgow


SPINAL Tap, while one of the funniest movie satires ever made did not do the greatest favours to what was then known as heavy metal when released more than 30 years ago.

The Rob Reiner-directed mockumentary spoofed up the excesses of the genre from the no-brain band members and speakers that go up to eleven to absurd stage effects that go wrong and sexy (sexist) lyrics.

So incisive were its observations, the movie's title became a way of describing the extremities of the genre.


Since then metal has evolved to become in some parts even more extreme with bands featuring aggressive death growling rather than singing that will put off the majority of mainstream listeners.

Treat the growling as another instrument, however, and bands such as Swedish melo-death metallers Arch Enemy make sense.

What sets Arch Enemy apart from the crowds is that we have a front woman Alissa White-Gluz and their full-throttle riffs are supplemented with epic melodies, that could actually be sung.

Singing, however, might put off the hardcore who prefer their metal in-yer-face, raw and riotous.


Arch Enemy distil all that is powerful and, yes, even delightfully preposterous, in the book of metal over the years into one big on-stage explosion.

The pace never lets up from the commercial (for them) new song The World Is Yours to the magnetic echo chamber boom of My Apocalypse.

Throughout you can hear snatches of the best of Lamb of God, Ministry, Iron Maiden, 80s-era hair metal Bon Jovi and Europe and even hardcore punk influencing the metal tornado.

Yes, some of the cliches are here from the head banging, long hair and skulls to the medieval imagery and, yes, OTT guitar solos are allowed, yet such accusations of derivativeness are relevant within so many other genres that it is, perhaps too uncool or un-PC to criticise.


What many who cannot get past the growls fail to appreciate is the depth of musicianship at play here and the pizzazz of the hooks.

To the sides of the charismatic Canadian White-Gluz are guitarists Michael Arnott and Jeff Loomis and bass player Sharlee D'Angelo who create a well-honed, effortless and flamboyant flow to these songs of rebellion.

It is White-Gluz that is the chief rabble-rouser, constantly cajoling and encouraging the crowd while complimenting the energy of the Glasgow crowd, leaving the men to flaunt their frets expertly with a typical heads bowed and legs apart rawk pose. It is pure theatre.

They may have other dates to play in a tour, but they perform with an urgency of a last gig before an impending apocalypse.

We Will Rise, the last song before their encore, is their undoubted masterpiece and its face-melting, dramatic melodies, riffs and sensational guitar solo generate an earthquake in the crowd.

Arch Enemy may have been around for 22 years, their music may only ever appeal to a fiercely loyal metal crowd, but what a powerful, evocative show they bring.