King Tut's Burning Angel Hut
Arch Enemy, Corporation 187 and Without Face at Glasgow King Tut's, December 9th 2002
by: Adam Lineker
Upon arrival at King Tut's, it is pleasing to see that the metal hordes have turned out in force. This was expected, as Arch Enemy have been subjected to a frenzy of media attention following their magnificent third opus _Wages of Sin_. With Corporation 187 also turning up to have a little fun, the atmosphere inside King Tut's is one of high expectancy.

Opening the evening in a more reserved style, Without Face just about catch the interest of the assembled throng with their gothic progmetal. Nobody in attendance goes crazy, but the offered performance is seemingly appreciated by the scattered groups of watching faces. Based on this performance however, it is hard to imagine how they could coerce any other response. Though the music is interesting, the musicians take a back seat to concentrate on their playing, thus lacking stage presence. The performance is competently tight but the music is too ethereal for this to make a real impact on the audience. If you take the time to look a little harder, it would appear that the drummer plays to a click-track. Couple this with an invisible keyboard player and one gets the feeling that there is something artificial about the performance; such heavy reliance on DAT recordings never sits well with me. This leaves a lot up to the two vocalists and unfortunately, something really doesn't work tonight. Establishing a well used formula in Scandinavian and European metal, eerie female singing is complemented by male power/death vocals. However, the frontwoman is either hopelessly out of tune or her lines are completely atonal; this leaves any sense of melody severely marred. Worse still, she looks disinterested enough for the problem to be caused by sheer lack of effort. This all renders the monotone growls of the frontman somewhat redundant. To his credit, his posturing captures the spirit of power metal well enough, but he only just succeeds in avoiding looking very stupid alongside his fellow performers. Though they provide an acceptable amount of entertainment with their musical endeavours, one can't help but feel that Without Face are rather forgettable.

Thankfully, Corporation 187 are up to the job of grabbing the audience by the throat and proceed to deliver a highly spirited performance. Succeeding mostly when hammering out large, catchy riffs, they seem to delight in educating all and sundry in the joy of thrash. It is very obvious that they enjoy themselves as they bludgeon along, spurring on a supportive crowd and getting the bodies moving. Filip Carlsson is a competent frontman who is unafraid to make direct eye contact with those who seem to be more rabid than others, and he is backed by a band that are all equally strong performers. Using a lot of material from _Perfection in Pain_ to spearhead their set, there are many memorable moments, particularly the crushingly infectious "Ghosts of Confusion". Above all, Corporation 187 come across as very proud of being a thrash metal act and you can see it in their stage mannerisms; even though bassist Viktor Klint just plants his feet and headbangs throughout, the permanent grin speaks volumes. Though the Corporation know that this isn't their show, they deliver an entertaining and passionate performance, suitably acting like a band with everything to gain and nothing to lose. Arguably there is some work to be done before they make The Haunted look over their shoulders, but they leave the stage having asserted themselves as a competent addition to the death/thrash cause.

As the lights go out and the haunting piano intro of "Enemy Within" filters through the hot and smoky air, the atmosphere that has been bubbling under the surface all evening finally begins to boil over. The scene is set for Arch Enemy to make a massive impact. Unfortunately, when they finally hit the stage, they seem to be somewhat deadened. Infuriatingly, the soundman has an unfortunate case of the gremlins and proceeds to battle with the sound desk in an uphill struggle throughout the entire show. Yet sound quality was never going to totally dampen the spirits of this crowd, nor compromise Arch Enemy's performance, and even though you can only hear drums and a little bass guitar, the Amott brothers make an energetic entrance that seems more suited to an arena than this small stage. Special praise is first reserved for one Angela Gossow who proves to be a brilliant and professional frontwoman, pausing between songs to request better lighting placement and sound quality. Her onstage manner ranges from intense to cool, as she rises to the occasion and performs with energy and flair; even the mike stand isn't safe from her wrath. Yet her real talent resides first and foremost in her voice. She may look comically petite when stood alongside the gargantuan bassman Sharlee DiAngelo, but when she unleashes her death roar, you can feel it through your feet.

Yet this is still very far from being all her show. Without exception, Arch Enemy are tight and charismatic performers, blistering through their intricate instrumental sections without fault, and when they launch into the opening bars of the Carcass classic "Corporeal Jigsore Quandary" at the set's mid point, they incite an already mental crowd into a near riot. Vacating the stage forthwith to let Daniel Erlandsson show his stuff behind the kit, it all seems so incredibly well thought out; when his sticks go flying half way through the solo, it is hard to tell if it is a genuine mistake or his sense of humour.

Choosing a career-spanning setlist, Arch Enemy perform their music as admirably as possible, given the sound conditions. Especially worthy of note is the crushing rendition of new song "Savage Messiah". There are times when the pit becomes so violent that one's survivalist instincts begin to take over and the music seems to lose momentary priority, yet the air of triumph perpetuates throughout. If not for the debilitating sound problems, this could have been the perfect night for Arch Enemy. As it is, they succeed in determination and competence, as their dogged performance is born aloft on the shoulders of a crowd that adore them.

(article submitted 16/3/2003)


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