Typical. The best night of Melodic Death and Black Metal to kick the month off, and in miserable England, we get rail strikes. But the Metal legions got here somehow by buses, trams and cars. A royal pain in the ass it may have been, but the crowds still gathered at the 02 Academy in Birmingham to witness an evening with Unto Others, Carcass, Arch Enemy and Behemoth.
Behemoth – Arch Enemy – Carcass – Unto Others
O2 Academy, Birmingham. 1 October 2022.
Words and Photography: John Inglis
With an intro of Subdivisions by Rush playing in the background, singer Gabriel Franco calmly walked up to the mic and, in a soft voice, said, “Good evening.” It must be very daunting opening up for Carcass, let alone the two joint headliners, but kicking off this huge gig are Unto Others, formally known as Idle Hands.
The band from Portland, Oregon, takes us back a few decades when Gothic Metal was a thing, but they add their wonderful modern twist to the music, and they succeed. With echoes of Killing Joke and Danzig, I like what they’re doing, and the crowd certainly shares this feeling. An exciting start to a frustrating evening.
Carcass needs no introduction. They were one of the very few Extreme Metal acts to sign to a major label. These guys have been around the block and then some. As soon as they strolled on stage, the Birmingham crowd acknowledged this veteran Death Metal troop.
Jeff Walker fronts his soldiers with some proper brutal grind and fast-paced power riffing. A good start to warm the crowd, and they loved them. Carcass holds no heirs or graces and doesn’t need any fancy clothes or shiny studs. These guys are straight down the line ‘real’.
Carcass are in the mood, and several mosh pits pop up, the band acknowledging these and nodding to the crowd that they like it. A stirring forty-five-minute set for these guys, but the crowd were still wanting more from the Metal vets.
I’d like to see Carcass headline a few more shows in UK. They deserve a bigger stage.
Many bands are unleashing a tonne of energy in their live shows after gigs were cancelled worldwide for two years, and Arch Enemy are no exception. Promoting their eleventh album, Deceivers, which hit shelves on 29 July 2022, Arch Enemy came to town.
Listening to Arch Enemy, you have thoughts of ferocious wolves chasing down prey at a pace you can hardly keep up with. That’s exactly what you get with their live shows. A big white curtain adorns the stage with the slogan Pure Fucking Metal.
All hail the high priestess of Metal, Alissa White-Gluz. She storms onto the stage from the right to take command of her Metal mercenaries like a boss, and the crowd realise that they are in for a crazy ride of Metal mayhem. All Aboard.
After the epic blast of Deceiver Deceiver, with no time to catch your breath, Alissa screamed, “it’s fucking War Eternal,” a classic from 2014. The twin guitars of Micheal Amott and Jeff Loomis suit each other, playing as if they were twin brothers. They know exactly what each other is doing, and they do it in some cases with clinical precision. Weird, but it’s very impressive.
Kudos to the crowd that surfed their way over the pit barrier, mostly females. It was fantastic to see.
The emphatic rhythm section of bassist Sharlee D’Angelo and drummer Daniel Erlandsson poured on the power to blast you into the middle of next week. They like the twin guitars were so in tune with each other they could do it blindfolded, just sublime.
Handshake With Hell is a ‘wow’ moment. This song just shows off what a fantastic voice Gluz has. She hits the highs with ease and booms out the death sounds with no effort at all. This song just goes to show that she is one of the best around.
A Sunset Over The Empire was the time to get the masses involved, and they honoured the Metal queen with their chanting. Alissa had the crowd in the palm of her hand, enchanting them with hand gestures like a high-class conductor. Safe to say Arch Enemy have won a lot of hearts tonight.
The final couple of songs were Snow Bound and Nemesis. Shouting, “so happy to be here with you. We are Arch Enemy, and we are pure fucking Metal,” Alissa grabbing a huge black flag and swaying it around the stage was the sign of goodnight..for now.
Since the arrival of Alissa White-Gluz in 2014, the band have geared up and have overtaken many Metal acts of the genre. Amott’s songwriting abilities have certainly lifted this band to new heights. The melodies and super catchy anthemic songs really shine throughout, especially having Jeff Loomis beside him.
This has pushed Arch Enemy into one of the top Metal acts in the world, recording-wise and live. An absolutely brutal set.
Those who lived through Behemoth’s incredible performance at Bloodstock 2022 will know what a show we were in for tonight. Promoting the new album, Opus Contra Natvram, released on 16 September 2022, Nergal and his grey demons bestow blasphemous sermons upon a baying Birmingham crowd.
Earlier in the evening, the number of people at the merch stand was incredible, so many wanting Behemoth shizzle. Sheer quality prevails here.
As the lights dim, the chatter fades, and the sounds and voices arise like lost souls screaming in the mist. The thunderous low intro sound is pushing on your chest like an invisible blacksmith’s anvil. A white satin curtain hides the set, with eerie shadows of the symbols on the mic stands showing through, torchlight’s faces appearing and fading, a very creepy cool intro.
As the curtain dropped, the roar from the packed venue was spine-tingling. Behemoth hit the stage adorned by a sea of red lighting. It’s as if the gates of hell opened, and it suddenly feels hotter than Satan’s front room. Thankfully lights changed, and we could see them better in all their devilish glory. The energy and theatrics really shine throughout with this band.
It looked like they were going into battle commanded by Lucifer himself. The seriousness they portray is mesmerising and quite a sight to behold. Straight into Post-God Nirvana from the new album Opus Contra Natvram the Satanist album showed its dark face with Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer, followed by the third track from the new album, The Deathless Sun.
What a powerful start to a gig.
Time for a small chat from Nergal, saying it’s been ages since they played here, but they are back, and deep roars from the crowd ensue. Thy Becoming Eternal, another from the new album, felt like hammers hitting you in the chest. There was a surprising showing of No Sympathy For Fools Zos from the 2002 Kia Cultus album.
Nergal leaves stage side to adorn the headdress for Bartzabel. The theatrics really are so immersive with this that it’s hypnotising, and the production crew do their very best to make the stage show just like you’re standing before the gates of hell.
Chant for Eschaton 2000 from Satanica wound up the show, and the band said their goodbyes to a very happy crowd. Behemoth are probably one of the biggest touring bands at the moment. Nergal has built a solid foundation, never veering from his path, and now is reaping the benefits from all the band’s hard work.
Thank you and goodnight, legions.