Review: Behemoth / Arch Enemy / Carcass / Unto Others – O2 Academy, Glasgow

After the opening night of the delayed-by-you-know-what ‘European Siege Tour’ in Dublin, a plethora of tour trucks were soon parked up outside the O2 Academy in Glasgow for the first of four back-to-back shows on UK soil. Billed as a joint headlining tour between Behemoth, and Arch Enemy, the bill also features Carcass, and Unto Others, which means that as well as being incredible value for money, there is the tricky scenario of an early start for punters and the opening few bands alike. But fear not, for if the bootleg merchandisers can make it in time for the doors opening and walk the length of the queue flogging their wares (destined to shrink in the first wash), then hordes of metalheads can be organised enough to get in line for doors opening at 17:30. And there are plenty of them here tonight snaking their way around this regal old building.

The seemingly-thankless task of kicking off five hours of extreme metal at a very early hour (on a tour that runs through October and into the opening week of November) falls to Portland, Oregon-based Unto Others – formerly Idle Hands, and it’s great to see that when the band takes to the stage with Rush’s ‘Subdivisions’ as an intro, there is quite a crowd already packed in at the barrier. Playing a head swirling brand of “Heavy Metal Goth Rock”, the four-piece are the least extreme of the four acts performing on the bill and are out to build on the fanbase that they built up on their own headlining UK tour earlier this year. With vocalist/guitarist Gabriel Franco’s vocals being on the lower end of the scale, and the sweet noise that Unto Others makes, comparisons with Type O Negative and trailblazers Sisters of Mercy are easy to make – especially on set-opener ‘Heroin’. Goth music is meant to be performed in a darkened, gloomy room; and that’s exactly the environment that Franco and company excel in. Ethereal moments on the likes of ‘No Children Laughing Now’ and the bass-driven ‘When Will Gods Work Be Done’ are perfect for this atmosphere and with the latter incorporating some harsher vocals, both showcase the depth of material that Unto Others offers up.

By the time Liverpool’s other favourite sons Carcass takes to the stage, the crowd in front of the barrier has swollen in numbers and the noise has ramped up a few decibels. One of the two most influential extreme metal bands to hail from the UK (Napalm Death being the other), Carcass are headliners in their own rights and revered by peers and fans alike, and rightly so. With the 2021 release of ‘Torn Arteries’, their first album in eight years, Carcass were back in the limelight and lapping up the plaudits that the album brought them, resulting in a few top slots in end-of-year polls. Live, they are even more formidable, with guitarist and co-founder Bill Steer looking like he has discovered the fountain of youth and looking as lean and guitar god-like as he first did all those decades ago. Bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker is in commanding form and as effortlessly cool as ever as he uses his bass like an extra limb, all while giving Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen a run for the money in the amount of guitar picks thrown out. With the crowd with them from the off (especially on a hellacious version of ‘Buried Dreams’ and a pit-inducing ‘This Mortal Coil’) Carcass gives the two co-headliners a tough act to follow and when Walker speaks for the first time to utter…” Wow, what a great fucking crowd, thank you Glasgow…and goodnight Glasgow” the only question to be answered is how do you follow that?

But follow that Arch Enemy does, and in some style. And if you are unsure of what to expect from Arch Enemy, then the huge blood-splattered curtain with “PURE FUCKING METAL” emblazoned across it might just give you a clue. Once the houselights dim, the pummelling double kick-drum work from the always-impressive Daniel Erlandsson and killer dual-riffage from Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis unleash hell, and once the curtain drops at the same time as Alissa White-Gluz unleashes a trademark ear-piercing scream the stage explodes to life with what seems like a few hundred spotlights coming to life and strafing the crowd with powerful streaks of white light, so powerful that if you are on the waiting list for cataract surgery you might want to forego that and buy a ticket for one of the remaining shows and stand near the front with your eyes wide open.

Powering into new track ‘Deceiver, Deceiver’, the Melo-death outfit are quickly making up for lost time, and it’s obvious that the Summer festival circuit has sharpened their reflexes as the band are purring like a finely-tuned Rolls Royce engine. The towering ‘War Eternal’ is introduced by White-Gluz with the familiar “Glasgow. This. Is. Fucking. Waaaaaaaarrrr.” (delete Glasgow and replace with whatever city Arch Enemy are playing in, but if you are familiar with the official video of the same song performed at Wacken, then you will get it), and the amount of and speed of crowd surfers are increased ten-fold. So much so that at times the same people are seen coming out of the security pit over and over again, and all are met with the offer of a cup of water and a high-five from the last few security guards on duty in the pit; the look of joy from so many (and so many younger fans) when they get the high-five is priceless and exorcises the demons from the bad-old days when so many venues (Manchester Apollo in the late ’90s being one) operated a three-strikes-and-out policy with crowd surfers. There is however a comedy moment during the slower mid-section of ‘My Apocalypse’ when White-Gluz commands the crowd to get their hands in the air and switch on the lights on their phones…just as some guy decides to go for a surf only to discover that no-one is able to catch him as their hands are in the air. Thankfully, he seems fine as he picks himself up from the floor rather sheepishly, and goes again.

White-Gluz is a blur of blue hair as she gives her neck a royal work-out with some vigorous headbanging, and her vocal prowess cannot be disputed, but her ability to hold the crowd in the palm of her hands is also noteworthy and she has rapidly become a frontperson to challenge some of the biggest names on the scene. The band are incredible; bassist Sharlee D’Angelo is always a pleasure to watch, and along with Daniel Erlandsson on drums, the pair have created one hell of a rhythm section. Guitarists Amott and Loomis are jaw-droppingly good and although Arch Enemy plays a pummeling brand of metal, the melodies and hooks are never that far away – the intro to ‘The Watcher’ has guitar hooks big enough to land Godzilla, as does the Maiden-esque mid-section, and the intro to ‘Handshake With Hell’, and the segment of clean-vocals on the same song are full of delicious melodies. The way that Amott and Loomis play off each other is spellbinding at times, and they both know how to put on a show, at times lining up back-to-back as both peel off one masterful lick after another to have the guitar-heads in the crowd drooling. This was a knockout performance from a band ready to take their place in the upper echelon of metal.

Another set, another curtain. But this time, plain white with the shadowy figures of Behemoth visible as they take their places behind it. The eerie chant-like ‘POST-GOD NIRVANA’ is booming out of the PA and acts as a mindblowing way to begin the show, in much the same way that it does on the new album ‘Opvs Contra Natvram’. Bassist Orion has pressed his face up against the curtain and even from behind the curtain he looks fucking menacing! Behemoth mainman Nergal has a torch illuminating his face as he recites his mantra, and like Orion – he looks fucking menacing. The curtain drops and the dazzling white lights of Arch Enemy have been replaced by red, yellow, and orange which makes sense as the band crash into ‘Ora pro Nobis Lucifer’ and when the lyrics “For thine is the kingdom/And the power/For thine is the kingdom/And the glory/Forever” land, they are spat back at the band by a ravenous horde of fans who have not seen Behemoth in a darkened indoor room for some time.

The first costume change from Nergal comes with the arrival of another new track in the shape of ‘THE DEATHLESS SUN’, the warm lighting for the opener has changed to starker blues, which again make perfect sense for a track that features the lines “I am nothing/ I am no one” repeated over and over by the band and crowd alike as Nergal continues with the main body of lyrics. Nergal has added a cloak and a gnarly mask to his bundle of props (the stunning almost pontiff-like headdress of course features on ‘Bartzabel’), and all make for a visual feast. It’s during the latter stages of this one that the drumming prowess of Inferno comes through to the forefront, and when a band is so visual onstage, it can be easy to be overwhelmed with what is playing out in front of you and miss the talent behind the spectacle. Nergal, Orion, and Inferno – ably backed up by touring guitarist – Seth, yep, no atmospheric stage name, just plain old Seth – are no slouches in the musicianship department, and it’s hard to think of a bassist who makes more of an impression in the live setting than Orion, a quick trip to the dentist the morning after to refill those cavities is required thanks to his powerful bass rumble.

Set highlight is a toss-up between newbies ‘THE DEATHLESS SUN’ and ‘OFF TO WAR!’, and the sheer weight of the classic ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ which has the necks getting a workout during the opening stages before the band floors it midway through. Five and a half hours after venturing into the darkness of the venue, the crowd is spilling out into the darkness of Glasgow, euphoric but exhausted as stamina is needed for this skull-crushing, momentous tour. People of Europe, get into training now because this one will drain you both emotionally and physically.

European Siege Tour:

04.10. FR Paris – Zenith

05.10. FR Ramonville-St-Agne, Le Bikini

07.10. PT Lisboa – Coliseu dos Recreios

08.10. ES Madrid – Palacio Vistalegre

09.10. ES Barcelona – Palau Sant Jordi

11.10. FR Caluire-Et-Cuire – Radiant-Bellevue

12.10. IT Milan – Alcatraz

14.10. DE Berlin – Columbiahalle

15.10. CZ Prague – Tipsport Arena

16.10. HU Budapest – Barba Negra

18.10. AT Wien – Gasometer

19.10. PL Katowice – Spodek

21.10. DE Ludwigsburg – MHP Arena

22.10. NL Den Bosch – Mainstage Brabanthallen

24.10. DE Saarbrücken – Saarlandhalle

25.10. CH Zürich – Samsung Hall

26.10. DE Frankfurt am Main – Jahrhunderthalle

28.10. DE Munich – Zenith

29.10. DE Düsseldorf – Mitsubishi Electric Halle

30.10. DE Hamburg – edel-optics.de Arena

31.10. SE Partille – Partille Arena

02.11. FI Helsinki – Helsinki Ice Hall

04.11. SE Stockholm – Annexet

05.11. DK Frederiksberg – Forum Black Box

06.11. NO Oslo – Sentrum Scene – LAST FEW TICKETS

Tickets available here

Review – Dave

Photo credits – Dave Jamieson

 

 

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