Look, we know it’s nearly Christmas, but that doesn’t mean that the relentless touring machine at the heart of heavy metal has stopped yet. Kreator and Arch Enemy have only just finished a punishing double-headliner tour. We sent Pete Long along to headbang himself senseless at the London leg of the tour.
6 things we learnt while watching Arch Enemy and Kreator in London:
1) The collaboration of Shining and Marty Friedman looked interesting on the bill ( that’s the avent-garde Norwegians, not the Swedish nutcases) and they’ve got a nice long slot in which to prove it. They are. The subtleties of their music are lost, but Shining’s frenetic muscularity and blaring saxophone counteract it, like a poor man’s Diablo Swing Orchestra. Marty’s guitar wizardry slots in seamlessly and everyone who turned up on time gets their money worth.
2) Being Angela Gossow’s successor in Arch Enemy can’t be an easy thing, and it’s quickly apparent that Alissa White-Gluz lacks those deep gutturals that were Gossow’s trademark. Everyone knows that White-Gluz does have an incredible voice, with a range extending from snarl to operatic cleans. But we only hear the snarls tonight. Good as they are, hopefully Arch Enemy’s next album will give Alissa a full platform – it would be pretty shitty to bogart one of metal’s best vocalists to do only a tenth of what she can do.
3) It’s fair to say that Arch Enemy’s recent releases haven’t commanded universal respect but you wouldn’t know that tonight. The band get a raucous reception and new material like ‘You Will Know My Name’ and ‘As The Pages Burn’ is just as popular as stone cold classic ‘Ravenous’. They mightn’t be pleasing everyone with their current direction, but what Arch Enemy do has an audience, and they give that audience a polished and technically accomplished performance that makes them very happy indeed.
4) Kreator have been active longer than most of the crowd had been alive. They’re the sort of band that you associate with fathers in much patched denim jackets. That’s not something often said about Arch Enemy and there’s a moment during the interval when it looks like everyone’s leaving. But the same faces reappear shortly before a really weird but quite striking video announces Kreator’s imminent return. This isn’t one of those gigs where two bands have two different crowds.
5) White-Gluz is no mean frontwoman, but she is apprentice to Mille Petrozza’s master tonight. The Kreator frontman celebrates his 48th birthday by berating the crowd until they’re stood howling in his meaty palm. When he demands London’s biggest mosh pit, the bottom floor opens up. They get a far bigger response tonight and that’s at least partially due to Petrozza; White-Gluz channelled her inner Bruce Dickinson with some flag waving to get a few cheers, but Petrozza leads a sing-a-long to ‘Number of the Beast’ that brings down the house. It’s a tour de force.
6) The current Kreator line-up has been together for well over a decade, and they’re now tighter than Scrooge McDuck. Sometimes tonight’s set feels more like a wall of sound than actual riffs but no one seems to care about that. Everyone’s too busy headbanging, screaming the words to ‘Phobia’ and getting swept away by the thrill of seeing one of thrash’s prehistoric monsters strutting their stuff. Will they be around, aged seventy-something, like the Stones are? Based on tonight, you really, really hope so.
War Eternal, the latest album from Arch Enemy, is out now on Century Media. Kreator are currently working on a follow-up to 2012’s Phantom Antichrist, which will be due for release sometime next year.