Behemoth and Arch Enemy headline a blockbuster night of metal in Manchester…with everything blazing.
As far as package tours go, The European Siege 2022 is one of the finest ever to be put together. Arch Enemy and Behemoth have recently released new albums of a devastating nature and are two of the hottest metal bands around. The legendary Carcass are supporting of 2021’s Torn Arteries and Unto Others continue their gothic rise.
Rain batters gig goers as the Apollo readies its doors for opening…early. Early because each band has a decent slot to fill and there is a lot of music to get through! Not many bands do merch like Behemoth and the stands are clogged from the off. Carcass and Unto Others have their stands on a different floor such is the volume of stuff from the co-headliners.
With Rush’s Subdivisions ringing around the Apollo, Unto Others cut shadowy figures to the Manchester crowd. “Good evening Manchester,” remarks singer Gabriel Franco during opener, Heroin. The Portland, Oregon collective grow in stature during their set as the crowd amasses after getting their hands on their desired merchandise en-route to the auditorium.
Formerly Idle Hands, Unto Others lose none of their cinematic, gothic appeal in their driving sound in the live arena. Franco looks somewhere between Eric Bloom and Chuck Billy with his trademark shades and big hair. His vocals shine throughout and Sebastian Silva lays down some killer solos as the band fire through their thirty minute set.
Nightfall shimmers with its jangly guitar opening and vocals that evoke the spirit of Ian Curtis; apt for a rainy night in Manchester. The song also carries a punkier pace. Thanks are offered for coming early from Franco and he introduces the stellar band before the band close out their great set with When Will Gods Work Be Done. It isn’t the first time gods will be mentioned.
When we spoke to Bill Steer in 2021 (read here), he shared some scepticism over Carcass being on bills like this as he wasn’t sure if people knew who they were or if they’d care. This came about after touring with Amon Amarth. After witnessing Carcass in Manchester, he needn’t have worried.
Carcass are in blistering form. Any scepticism evaporates as the quartet, quite literally, plough through an inexplicable amount of songs in their set. Opening with Buried Dreams from their legendary Heartwork album, the band offer a no-frills approach whilst surreptitiously keeping gore atop the bill with small screens showcasing various surgical implements and clips from the cutting table. Kelly’s Meat Emporium from the aforementioned Torn Arteries follows. Jeff Walker is in top form vocally and Bill Steer is a joy to watch play the guitar.
Under The Scalpel Blade, This Mortal Coil, Dance Of Ixtab and Incarnated Solvent Abuse all follow in medley fashion leaving no time for repose. By this point, mosh pits break out on the floor of Manchester Apollo. You can see that the band notice and Walker acknowledges the enthusiasm from the stage. ‘Good evening Manchester Apollo…we snuck out a new album last year…we’re not gonna waste any time.’ They don’t. Steer’s smile grows evermore as the set rolls on.
Forty-five minutes of relentless and bludgeoning melodic death metal from the innovators and masters is ended with Jeff Walker, can in hand, proclaiming they’ll see us again. I dearly hope so. Carcass are a national treasure and one of metals truly great bands. Long may they reign.
Prior to Arch Enemy’s arrival, a curtain is draped across the state adorned with the words, ‘Pure Fucking Metal.’ You can tell from the amount of people turning the stage around that things are going to kick up a notch.
As the lights go down, mobile screens light up the crowd for the synth introduction. There is a little bit of shadowplay before the Swedish five piece are revealed. “Get those horns up,” shrieks Alissa White-Gluz. Manchester obliges. Deciever, Deciever opens the set. The vocal refrain is instantly memorable and is chanted back to White-Gluz.
“Manchesterrrrrrr! We are Arch Enemy, and this is fucking war,” comes the cry before War Eternal from the album of the same name; the first that White-Gluz sung on after Angela Gossow passed the vocal torch. Bursts of fire rise from the front of the stage as Daniel Erlandsson blasts things forward from behind his huge drum kit.
Alissa White-Gluz is a master of stage presence. She stalks the stage during Ravenous encouraging people to clap along. The melodic breakdown of Ravenous is brilliant and the crowd has graduated to circle pits and crowd surfing.
In support of their brilliant new album, Decievers (our review here), Arch Enemy plunder material from the release. In The Eye Of The Storm is huge. It is a song that was made for the stage. The epic opening, chugging guitars from Jeff Loomis and Michael Amott alongside rolling drums give way to an almighty barrage of power chords. Another new cut is House Of Mirrors. White-Gluz gives a ‘yeah-ee-yeah’ scream at the start which is spine tingling.
“Manchester; make some noise for the other bands,” demands White-Gluz before acknowledging their happiness at being back in Manchester. She welcomes fans old and new; metal shows like this are always inclusive events where things might get vociferous in a mosh pit but its all through a shared love of the energy created and people are clearly looking after each other.
My Apocalypse offers a more tender moment as phones are aloft once more to the weeping guitar solo contained within. The Watcher is a fast-paced death metal beast with White-Gluz in savage form. Again, this is a new one built for the stage. The chorus and guitar melody soars, with Jeff Loomis laying down a furious solo mid-song. By now, Arch Enemy are fully in their stride and the crowd in Manchester laps up every request to get involved, especially with the melody of Sunset Over The Empire. Manchester is in fine voice.
Handshake With Hell again shows what fine voice White-Gluz is in. She moves seamlessly between deathly growls to moving, symphonic-style clean vocals. It is a pleasure to be in her presence as a singer; she is one of the very best around in this field. As The Pages Burn kicks up the pace a little more before a lamenting Snow Bound and a truly immense rendition of Nemesis. “So happy to be here with you…we are Arch Enemy and we are pure fucking metal,” exults White-Gluz as she parades a flag around the stage for the chest beating finale.
As the band depart, it is easy to forget that there is another band on the bill. As mentioned, this package tour is one of the finest to be put together. The value for money is superb, and the quality of the music is second to none.
Like Arch Enemy, there is a huge stage turnaround. Massive kudos to the road crew who do an amazing job to get the show ready. Again, a huge curtain covers the front of the stage. This time it is pure white with Behemoth’s emblem projected onto it.
With an almighty roar, the main lights go down and close up projections of what appears to be Nergal’s face appear to create a claustrophobic atmosphere. The art of showmanship is something that Behemoth are also incredibly well versed in. Nergal moves like a ghost behind the curtain with blistering white light creating huge shadows. There hasn’t been a note sung and already there is a fervour in the crowd that feels like things have hit 11.
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer opens the show after the introduction of Post God Nirvana. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer is one of the many highlights on arguably Behemoth’s finest work; The Satanist. Fire spits across the stage as Nergal encourages the crowd to ‘scream out’ the ‘for thine is the kingdom and power’ chorus. Going back to the crowd…the masses in Manchester really brought themselves out on this evening. The energy is palpable as people surf forward and throw each other around. It helps enhance an already great show. ‘Behemoth! Behemoth!’ chant the crowd. “Now it feels like home; thank you for such a warm welcome,” says Nergal of the crowd behind his wildly ornate microphone stand.
In support of their new album, Opvs Contra Natvram (our review here), Behemoth make up a good chunk of their set with new numbers. Thy Becoming Eternal rips through the Apollo. It was a song included in the bands spellbinding live performance from In Absentia Dei (our review here) during lockdown. The middle section has a marching style breakdown that has the crowd chanting along in unholy union.
Off To War! is an instant Behemoth classic. Urgent riffs, thrashy drums and vicious verse. There isn’t too much augmenting the sound in terms of choral sounds – it is the band just laying down their brand of heavy. In addition to this, the band create an evermore immersive experience with a pungent blast of smoke that makes the Apollo smell like burning. The Deathless Sun’s ‘I am nothing’ refrain is aired early and Versvs Christvs is saved for a near set closer. The grim video for the latter has just been released; onstage, Nergal offers up a fiendish benediction as the song broods and build.
Aesthetically, there aren’t many bands that do it as well or as viscerally as Behemoth. You can smell fuel in the air as the band head back in time for Daimonos and Ov Fire & The Void from 2009’s Evangelion and further still for a rendition of Conquer All. The measured nature of the set pleases fans old and new.
The hypnotic Bartzabel makes an appearance with Nergal in full headgear from I Loved You At Your Darkest. Like many of Behemoth’s songs the guitars cascade and just consume you. Nergal sounds particularly impassioned on Bartzabel; there is a real anguish amongst the backing vocals from Orion. The drums of Inferno spew smoke out creating plenty of tension and scope for the bands visual production.
Whilst the production is big, there is a simplistic nature to it and it doesn’t overtake the music. Projections used cleverly against a haunting backdrop, and a lit up emblem for Behemoth are used amongst a maelstrom of pulsing strobe lights. Then there is the fire. Not quite Rammstein fire, but it’s getting there.
Comment on war and peace is offered before No Sympathy For Fools. “Let me see your peace signs,” asks Nergal prior to the song. Here shares his. Naturally; it’s a horn. As the band get stuck into the song, the guitarists line up as a demonic Status Quo. Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel sounds as brutal as it did almost ten years ago when it was released. The addition of an extra body to pound the drums makes the song that little bit heavier as it swishes ominously along.
Chant For Eschaton 2000 closes out the set and the night. If Armageddon was to come and people were to be judged by their earthly deeds – as the song suggests, each band on this bill would surely be destined for higher places as this was a night to remember where only good deeds were done.
The European Siege Tour 2022 continues across Europe during October.
Categories: Live Reviews