Arch Enemy + Wintersun + Tribulation
@ Koko, London
February 11, 2018
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Graham Hilling
No doubt last Sunday’s lineup at the KOKO was an attractive one, as the Will to Power London date had been sold out since before Christmas. Swedish melodeath heavyweights ARCH ENEMY returned with their brand new album, with support from Finnish masters of epic, symphonic metal, WINTERSUN, and progressive blackened death metallers TRIBULATION.
Metal-Rules had the chance to sit down with Wintersun guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari prior to the show. The interview can be read HERE.
Rarely has the queue outside the Koko been as long as that Sunday afternoon, and a steady stream of metalheads quickly filled up the venue as TRIBULATION took the stage to kick off the night.
Their sinister blend of black and death metal with progressive elements, sprinkled with dramatic gestures and a theatrical stage presence seemed to work well with the London audience.
Guitarists Jonathan Hultén and Adam Zaars ominously occupy each side of the stage, while frontman and bassist Johannes Andersson performs his vocal duties with supreme force.
The band’s latest album Down Below was released two weeks prior to the show, and the audience is treated to three brand new songs.
All in all, Tribulation’s incorporation of enticing and intricate death/black metal music in an eerie and atmospheric performance was a nice warm up for the rest of the night, and one I hope to see again soon.
1. Lady Death
3. The Motherhood of God
4. Suspiria de Profundis
6. Strange Gateways Beckon
7. The Lament
The return of Finnish epic metallers WINTERSUN is a long anticipated one, and their first performance in London since 2013 seemed to attract a good amount of fans, even travelling ones.
Jari Mäenpää and co. released their third album The Forest Seasons last summer, and fans were treated to half of the album during Sunday’s show.
“Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)”, a 14-minute epic homage to the rebirth of spring after winter, kicks it all off with it’s catchy chorus choir and delicate guitar melodies.
Frontman Jari, having turned over guitar duties to live guitarist Asim Serah, parades around the stage engaging with the crowd and looking mighty happy to be there.
“Winter Madness”, a throwback to the band’s self titled album from 2004 is undoubtedly a fan-favourite, and features perhaps the most impressive guitar performance of the night, courtesy of guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari. Meanwhile, session drummer Rolf Pilve does a fantastic job behind the drumset.
“Sons of Winter and Stars” becomes the highlight of their set, with its aggressively melodic structure, featuring fierce riffs accompanied by pounding blast beats and a mighty, uplifting chorus.
Hearing hundreds of fans singing along to “we are the sons of winter and stars, we come from a far beyond time!” is near goosebump-inducing.
“Loneliness (Winter)” is a nice change of pace, although it arguably works a little better on record than in a live setting. “Battle Against Time” is a nice addition to the setlist, before “Time” ends what is sadly a much too short set for a band of their caliber.
1. Awaken From the Dark Slumber (Spring)
2. Winter Madness
3. Sons of Winter and Stars
4. Loneliness (Winter)
5. Battle Against Time
Motörhead’s classic “Ace of Spades” sounds over the PA, signaling it is time for the final band of the night.
Sure enough, soon the instrumental opening track to ARCH ENEMY‘s latest album Will to Power can be heard. The band takes to the stage, tearing into the single “The World is Yours”.
“Ravenous” from 2001’s Wages of Sin follows, a nice blast from the past in a set that largely centers around the band’s later material.
The crowd goes wild for the Swedish melodeath pioneers, and a spot-on audio mix in arguably London’s most beautiful indoors venue elevates the experience.
The band all seem in good shape, and axemen Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis meticulously execute their guitar duties with their signature styles; Amott with his melodic, emotional solos and Loomis with his impressively fast and accurate shredding.
Frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz can be described as nothing but a energy-fueled powerhouse, running and jumping around stage while growling her lungs out.
There is no doubt the new material work well in a live setting, and songs like “The Eagle Flies Alone” and “The Race” are definite crowd-pleasers.
The slower, more melancholic “Reasons to Believe” is a nice change of pace, and displays the diversity and range of White-Gluz’s voice.
2014’s War Eternal is still prominently featured in the setlist, and “Avalance” becomes the first of the band’s encores for the night.
“Snowbound” is followed by probably their biggest hit, “Nemesis”, before the instrumental outro “Fields of Desolation” ends a night of fast, heavy and loud metal music in the capital.
White-Gluz continues to prove herself a worthy replacement for Angela Gossow, and the Will to Power album has in my opinion successfully cemented her as one of leading female voices in metal.
Arch Enemy practice what they preach, and when they are on stage, the world truly is theirs.
Set Flame to the Night (tape)
1. The World is Yours
3. The Race
4. War Eternal
5. My Apocalypse
6. You Will Know My Name
7. Bloodstained Cross
8. Dead Eyes See No Future
9. The Eagle Flies Alone
10. Reason to Believe
11. As the Pages Burn
12. Intermezzo Liberté
13. Dead Bury Their Dead
14. We Will Rise
18. Fields of Desolation (outro)