Friday, October 24, 2014

Arch Enemy / Kreator/ Huntress/ Starkill @ Baltimore Soundstage 10/23/2014

I went to see Arch Enemy at the Baltimore Soundstage ($25) with a variety of supporting acts. Arch Enemy is on tour to support their new album with new singer Canadian import Alissa White-Glutz. Having last seen Arch Enemy in 2011 with Angela Gossow, it had been a while and I wasn't sure what to expect of Alissa live. I had seen The Agonist twice before live, both times Alissa was not doing so hot (singing that is). I thought she did better background vocals for Kamelot, etc. This would be the first stop on their North American tour for "War Eternal," here in MD! I ended up seeing a number of ppl there- Ariel y Ilem, Jose, James, Scott, Ray C, Bobbie n Nick, JACINDA, Russel, Dorothy, Danica, Daniel G, Bridget, Rock and Roll Experience Bob, and of course Metal Chris.

This is Blur Eternal

As I got to the venue around 7, there was still a slow moving line (tho not nearly as long as it was for Eluveitie) to get in. I entered and noticed they had the back open, and that it was pretty well attended (although not near sold out). I think about 300-400 people? Not bad, but I believe Ram's Head in 2011 seemed more packed than this. I noticed that no one had started played yet, and it was well past the advertized start of 7PM.

Impossible Merchality
#Clitboner... really?
Virus of the Merch

This is Merch Eternal

There was a bit of merch- Arch Enemy had several shirts and their new CD/LP (including a signed one). They also had that exclusive Vinyl split with Kreator that has their Judas Priest cover ("Breaking the Law"). Kreator had many shirts, and their latest live album ($15), a hat, and a can coozie. Kreator also had a sign about "blame Fed Ex," so some merch may not have made it. Huntress had a couple shirts (including the horrible "Clitboner" one) and "Starbound Beast." Starkill had their first CD ($10) and their latest ($15) and several shirts- with a shirt/CD deal for $30. I believe all shirts were $25 otherwise.

Kreator was missing something

I heard bad things about the VIP experience (~$100!) before the show- I think that because things were running late/issues with the sound check (see below) that may have rushed the experience. I had also heard that the meet part was very brief, and that people were hurried thru the line. AND then sent to get back in line outside. It sounded like a big disservice to fans (especially for that much money). I would like to hear how this goes on future dates as well. Looking at the times posted at the sound booth, we saw that Starkill was to be about 7-:720/25, Kreator 8:25-9:25, Arch Enemy 9:55- 11:25. Kreator and Arch Enemy were very close to the posted times, but Starkill and Huntress got shafted a bit it seems.

Starkill cut Starcut short

Melodic Death Metalers Starkill were on first, and played a criminally short set- 2 songs! Both were from the new album ("Virus of the Mind") and sounded good, but the vocals were a bit muddy. I later talked with the frontman Parker Jameson for Starkill and he mentioned about issues with the soundboard/sound check, and that seemed to have pushed things back. That really sucks, because Starkill was the band I was 2nd most interested in seeing.  Next time?

Jill Janus, with the Huntress

Jill Janus (ex- topless DJ, nude model, etc.) fronted Huntress was up next-I hoped seeing them on the start of the tour rather than the end (I had caught them on the last date of a tour supporting Lamb of God and Jill was ill and sounded atrocious) would be way better. And they were- Jill sounded much better, albeit there were some sound issues with the mixing of her voice. Eli Santana of Holy Grail is now of rhythm guitar for Huntress, apparently. Huntress sounded way more mature this time, I guess all that touring is honing their craft. I know there are people who will dismiss Jill and her early days (in the band and otherwise) with her "sex sells" outfits an the like. She's covered up like the Butcher Babies, but unlike them, she's actually got a stage presence an some vocal chops.

Nathan I mean Eli Santana
We did get a new song- "Black Tongue" (not  a Mastodon cover) to go with the mostly "Starbound Beast" set, which was nice. But it felt like they were just getting things started and stopping the set after the laughable "I Want to Fuck You to Death" seemed like more of a derailment than Starkill's non-start. Jill had some great stage presence again- stomping around, engaging fans, and making silly faces, but mysteriously disappeared to the back in between songs (perhaps "lighting up the sky"?), which was a bit distracting.

The crowd went APE

German Thrash kings Kreator were on next, and  the crowd basically woke up and started  moshing their asses off. It seemed to get way  louder and a bit dangerous near the pit.  Frontman Mille Petrozza commanded the  crowd, and they complied, from mosh pits to  singing along to the wall of death (!), they were more than happy to participate. I just got that feeling of electricity from my fellow concert goers, the band, and everything in between. There are some who argue that perhaps Kreator should have headlined this tour- and they totally could have, based on the reaction. Everything was pretty great about their set- everything except for the lights. They brought along their annoying strobe/ way too bright lights set AGAIN. There were times I could literally not look at the stage, lest I be almost going into a seizure due to the excessively bright and strobing lights. If they changed that, then I'd easily say that Kreator may have been the best band of the evening. But don't tell Alissa that.

More like Violent Light Revolution

Set wise, Kreator played several songs I recognized, and others I did not. Some classics ("Flag of Hate," "Riot of Violence") were missing, but you can't play everything can you? I thought it was a good mix, but a more serious Kreator fan would need to really comment on the song selection for better feedback. I thought it was fine, and even an hour of thrash had me kraving more Kreator!

Alissa says that you will know her name
Swedish death metalers Arch Enemy slowly took the stage to the tape intro of their latest album, and then exploded into the excellent opener (and all around song too) "Enemy Within," which started things off with a bang! I thought Alissa did a pretty good job to start with, and continued to do so throughout the show. But it was just that, "pretty good," not great. I think I may have to sit an think a bit more, but it seemed like she was doing her best Angela impression during several songs, instead of Alissafying them. Either way, she sounded way better here than with The Agonist. She seemed most at home on the trio of new songs, and I think those sounded the most natural.  The classic "Dead Bury Their Dead" and the solo "Snowblind" were IMO the best songs.

Guitarists Michael Amott and Nick Corde (ex-Arsis) were a bit low in the mix at times, which was a little annoying. I think that maybe Alissa was more prominent to showcase her voice and show people that yes she is here to stay. I could have used a bit more guitarring, myself. The slow and sweet "Snowblind" was as if angels were playing  heavenly instruments. I loved it!

No Gods, No Masters of hair dye
I also thought it was kind of fabulous how Alissa has blue/green hair, Mike has red, Nick has brown, Sharlee D'Angelo (bass) has black... why not have Daniel Erlandsson (drummer) dye his blonde to get a fuller colour spectrum? Speaking of blondes, one fan looked a bit out of place- bright blonde hair, sporty looking pink jacket, and short shorts. She looked like she just came out of Cheerleader practice! She was grooving to the Arch Enemy songs, however, so maybe she's into them- nothing wrong with that- more fans, more shows. The things you notice!

Smiling isn't metal
Alissa was trying to engage the crowd a LOT, demanding them to sing "or [she] wouldn't do [this song]," or my favourite was the jumping. I am not a jumper (or it is very hard and a very power metal or pop punk (WTF?) thing to do IMO), so I was a bit "come ON now" when the ask was made. But people seemed to comply, so good for them. I think she was maybe trying a bit too hard, and all I could think of was that she was perhaps trying a bit too hard. IMO she should have just tried to let things happen organically. Maybe she was trying to compete with Mille, but that is a losing battle apparently.  That being said, she is more than just a pretty vegan face- she certainly held my attention and sounded decent live (way better than her Agonist work).

Who do YOU like the best?
But, after the show, asking around- I noticed that many people were not impressed with her. I don't know if they were the Angela only (or the Johan Liiva only- who is in a decent band called Hearse) camp, or what, but there were more than a few people unhappy with the performance. I think she was good, but not an amazing replacement (like say Mark Tornillo of Accept). Maybe after some more shows and time she will seem more natural rather than an almost cover bandy feel to some songs (at least vocally). I think a lot of people don't accept her, but I am sure there are many who do, based on the attendance and rowdiness. I am curious to see how the rest of the tour will go and what reaction she gets. I gave her the chance and thought she was passable- I'd see them live again (tho I'm a pretty big Amott fan, that may colour things a bit).

Just a lil' Snowblind
Overall, an opening night of fun, excitement, and disappointment. I'd still recommend you hit this tour up if you like Arch Enemy or Kreator (moreso). I hope future dates get longer Starkill/Huntress sets. I'm interested in hearing what YOU think about Alissa.

Next show: Onslaught/Artillery/Striker?

Want Another opinion? Rock n Roll Experience has one

Starkill (7:17- 7:25)
  • Into Destiny 
  • Virus of the Mind
Huntress (7:46- 8:07)
  • Spelleater
  • Destroy your Life
  • Zenith
  • Black Tongue
  • I Wanna Fuck You to Death
Kreator (8:25-9:28)
  • intro
  • Violent Revolution
  • Civilization Collapse
  •  Extreme Aggression
  • Impossible Brutality
  • Enemy of God
  • Voices of the Dead
  • Endless Pain
  • Victory Will Come
  • Phantom Antichrist
  • Phobia
  • Hordes of Chaos
  • Pleasure to Kill
Arch Enemy (10:06- 11:33)
  • Tempore Nihil/ Wage of Sin (tape)
  • Enemy Within
  • War Eternal
  • Ravenous
  • Revolution Begins
  • My Apocalypse
  • You Will Know My Name
  • Bloodstained Cross
  • Under Black Flags We March
  • As the Pages Burn
  • Dead Eyes See no Future
  • No Gods, No Masters
  • Dead Bury Their Dead
  • We Will Rise
  • Khaos Overture (tape)
  • Yesterday is Dead And Gone
  • Blood on Your Hands
  • Snowbound
  • Nemesis
  • Fields of Desolation (outro)