October 15 marked the return of the Jagermeister Music Tour to Philadelphia.
The sold out Electric Factory was packed with metal heads waiting to see Slayer and Hatebreed, possibly the two biggest bands in American heavy metal music right now.
Those who showed up early were treated to an incredible performance by European death metal mainstays Arch Enemy.
Arch Enemy was formed in 1996, featuring guitarist brothers Michael (formerly of Carcass) and Christopher Amott. According to Christopher, they formed with no purpose in mind other than to “make simple, kick-ass metal that gives people energy.”
In 2001, when the band was in search of a new vocalist, they surprised many by bringing Angela Gossow, a German woman with no prior band experience, into the fold.
According to Amott, however, this was very deliberate on their part. “We wanted someone with a clean record, who wasn’t ex-this band and ex-that band.”
The addition of Gossow was an interesting choice, considering the current lineup of the band is made up of a “who’s who” of European metal maniacs.
In addition to the Amott brothers, who are the only original members still performing with the band, other members include former Mercyful Fate bassist Sharlee D’Angelo and ex-In Flames drummer Daniel Erlandsson.
When Gossow first joined, the band put an MP3 of a new song up on its website. Amott says the difference was so miniscule that they initially received many e-mails referring to Gossow as “he.”
While the addition of Gossow may have seemed like a risky move, the choice seems like it may have actually cemented the band’s place as one of the premier groups in its genre.
In addition to the Jagermeister Music Tour, Arch Enemy has had the privilege of playing many exciting shows, particularly two European festivals opening for the almighty Iron Maiden.
This particular tour, however, is giving the band great exposure. As Amott says, “It’s all about letting fans of Slayer and Hatebreed hear our music.”
Amott mentions Slayer as one of his and his brother’s chief guitar influences, so there is the added bonus of playing with one of their major inspirations.
Following a short performance by nu-metal jokers Hemlock, Arch Enemy took the stage. When asked what metal meant to him, Christopher Amott said “energy,” and Arch Enemy’s performance this particular evening demonstrated plenty of that.
Arch Enemy is probably one of the most technically proficient bands in metal, and this shows in its live performances.
Musically, the highlight was the Amott brothers’ insane back and forth soloing, but this wouldn’t have sounded nearly as good if they weren’t backed by the incredible rhythm section of D’Angelo and Erlandsson.
On this tour, Arch Enemy only plays for 30 minutes, but Amott says that is almost to the band’s advantage. “We don’t slow down,” he says.
Obviously, the two headliners should not be discounted. Hatebreed, touring in support of its upcoming release, The Rise Of Brutality, was just as brutal as the album title suggests.
The band was as tight as it has ever been, whipping through new material as well as old standards like “Before Dishonor” and “Last Breath”. Slayer also gave a great performance.
Amidst a blinding light show, Slayer played all of its live standards, including, “War Ensemble,” “Mandatory Suicide,” and, “Reign In Blood.”
All of the bands, with the exception of Hemlock, were quite good. Unlike Slayer and Hatebreed, however, Arch Enemy is not yet a huge name in the United States.
If the band keeps doing tours like this, it certainly will become one.
Chuck DelRoss can be reached at email@example.com