Arriving at the Empire just as doors open, there is a tangible collective sigh of relief and a buzz of excitement from the long line of fans eagerly awaiting the warmth of the venue and of course, the highly anticipated Khaos over Europe tour. Some would say that tonight’s line up is a bit of an odd one, with Taiwanese metallers Chthonic, whose political stance both within music and their personal lives have had them banned from most areas of China, opening up the show, Warbringer, a band hailing from the birthplace of Thrash Metal displaying a big middle finger to all present day strains of the genre and of course, the female fronted Scandinavian heavy weights that everyone is here to see tonight, Arch Enemy. Regardless of how the lineup may appear, we are promised a night of good old fashioned heavy fucking metal.
After a good 30 minutes of sitting idle handed, shivering and the venue now half full, the lights go out and the crowd erupt with excitement as the show finally gets under way. Chthonic
take the stage and waste little time tearing into the first song of the night,Forty-nine Theurgy Chains
, a song which has had them compared to Japanese metal titans Malice Mizer
. From the first note sung, it is evident that the sound here tonight is not going to be on the bands’ side, although this does not pose too much of a problem for the crowd here in London as the majority of Chthonic’s
songs are not sung in English. Never the less, the band power through their set stopping only briefly to introduce themselves before launching into their final song of the night Takao
, an anthem heavily influenced by their oriental roots, with the chorus sung in their native tongue and the verses in English. They even cram in an Erhu (Chinese violin) solo. They end their set with an abundance of gratitude towards the crowd.
Next up are new school thrash kings Warbringer. If you are one of the unfortunate people who are unfamiliar with who they are, you are forgiven for thinking that they’ve somehow stumbled into the wrong venue - arriving on the stage looking a little dazed and already slightly merry. After a bit of phaffing around they jump (in frontman John Kevill’s case, literally) into first songLiving Weapon and unleash their refined brand of new and old school thrash upon the crowd. Each song is filled with machine gun riffing, floor shaking pedalling and unlike the band previous, an abundance of energy from all members of the band, with Kevill & guitarist John Laux even leaving the stage to interact with the crowd before them. By the time they end their set, the crowd are dripping with sweat and thirsting for more.
After a hefty half hour change over, the lights dull once more; theKhaos Overture begins to play and tonight’s headliners Arch Enemy emerge from the darkness. As the sirens ring out for the first song Yesterday is Dead and Gone, the sheer excitement that has surged through the Empire in the past few seconds is enough to put your hair on edge and send shivers up your spine. It is evident that from the second the song drops Arch Enemy will be unleashing a full scale metal assault on everyone within the confines of this prestigious venue, and will be taking no prisoners. Whilst Arch Enemy are not a band renowned for their energetic live shows, the sheer ferocity of their music and their presence on stage is more than enough to make up for the lack of a stage show.
With the tour being in support of their latest release Khaos Legions, you would expect the band to be playing through the album with a few crowd favourites thrown in for good measure. Instead what the crowd get is an extensive old skool catalogue dating way back to 1996, mixing old with new so as not to have too much of one or the other. Whilst it is undoubtable that Arch Enemy are a force to be reckoned with, there is an ever creeping feeling that there is more to tonight’s show than meets the eye, a feeling that is cemented after their final song We Will Rise, during which Angela takes a few minutes to explain to her brothers and sisters of metal that throughout the night they have had Amnesty International as their special guests.
For long time fans of the band it has become ever evident with every release that the band have become more and more political in the messages within their music. Alongside tonight’s openers, it seems like theKhaos over Europe
tour is more about pushing their political agenda into the open than showcasing their music.
The question is whether this might eventually beggar the question from fans of whether Arch Enemy have lost their magic?