Cradle of Filth/Arch Enemy/Bleeding Through/Himsa
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC Canada
Live Review & All Photos by Lord of the Wasteland
In terms of variety, this was a real mixed bag. The MTV2-sponsored Headbanger?s Ball Tour rolled through Vancouverfor the second straight year. Last year?s incarnation featured a solid batch of American metal bands (Shadows Fall, Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and God Forbid) but this year?s lineup was much more diverse. Four bands were on the bill including hardcore openers Himsa, Southern California straight-edge metalcore/punkers Bleeding Through, Swedish death metal legends Arch Enemy and the ubiquitous Brits of gothic black metal, Cradle of Filth. Obviously, this varied assemblage of artists would bring out a different crowd but I had no idea just HOW different it would be. Wife-beater clad mosh pit monkeys, pasty-faced Goth girls, long-haired headbangers and even a dude in a clown suit being led around on a leash by a vampish woman intermingled on what was sure to be as much a spectacle off-stage as it was on.
I purposely arrived late and missed Himsa altogether but managed to get most of Bleeding Through?s fifty minute set. What I immediately noticed was the energy that vocalist Brandon Schiapetti exuded. He bounded from one side of the stage to the next and really had a good connection with the crowd. Keyboardist Marta really whipped things up, too, and seeing that instrument as part of a metalcore act was certainly unique. Unfortunately, the rest of the band must have had their feet nailed to the stage floor because they quite literally never moved during a song! The two guitarists and a bass player stood totally still sucking any life out of the stage presence produced by Schiapetti and Marta. This seemed to have no effect on the crowd whatsoever as they ate this band up despite their totally inept soloing and mediocre playing. The faux-hawk and mascara look is the name of the game here and these bands seem to popping up like mushrooms on a dew-soaked lawn. Atreyu, Bleeding Through, Darkest Hour?they were a dime a dozen at this year?s Ozzfest and, I can?t explain it, but the kids seem to dig them. Oh well?
Things were running behind schedule a bit and as such, Arch Enemy?s set was cut criminally short to thirty minutes. How Bleeding Through secured fifty minutes while Arch Enemy got barely half an hour is anyone?s guess but the Swedes made the most of their abbreviated set and stole the show from everyone. This was Arch Enemy?s first time in Vancouver and if they came to kick ass and chew bubble gum, well, they were all out of bubble gum. Sadly, only the two releases with Angela Gossow on vocals?2001?s WAGES OF SIN and 2003?S ANTHEMS OF REBELLION?were given lip service and the band?s earlier work was left off the setlist entirely. I would have loved to hear Gossow?s take on early gems like ?Silverwing? or ?Beast of Man? but it was not to be. In their place was a solid offering of newer tracks like ?We Will Rise,? ?Ravenous,? ?Dead Eyes See No Future? and ?Dead Bury Their Dead.? Gossow?s Godzilla-like roar is every bit as menacing in person as it is on record and how such a big voice comes from such a small person is quite remarkable. She stalked the stage like a predator while thanking Vancouver for being ?pure fucking metal? while the half-capacity crowd thundered their approval. Brothers Chris and Michael Amott tore the place up with absolutely spot on riffs and solos, especially during ?Dead Eyes See No Future? and ?Ravenous.? Daniel Erlandsson was given the chance to shine on ?Dead Bury Their Dead? with some punishing double bass work, while Sharlee D?Angelo abused his four-string like a madman. Given a few days to think it over, this all-too-brief performance was one of the highlights of my concert-going year and Arch Enemy absolutely must come back to do a full set. Getting pushed aside by flash-in-the-pan hacks like Bleeding Through is a travesty and whoever made this absurd decision must have their hand in someone?s back pocket. The very title of the tour declares "headbanging" and Arch Enemy encompasses that, not some pumped-up dude with a stupid haircut and more makeup than your slutty sister wears on a Saturday night.
ARCH ENEMY SETLIST
The First Deadly Sin
We Will Rise
Dead Eyes See No Future
Dead Bury Their Dead
A half hour set changeover (with Druid-like priests putting the finishing touches on things) promised the theatrical equivalent of Sodom & Gomorrah with Cradle of Filth at the controls. Even a lone camerawoman was on hand filming the proceedings for an assumed future DVD release. When the band last hit Vancouver in July 2003, the sights were right out of the Grand Guignol with performers, props and a hellacious attack on the senses. Say what you will about the band, their music and their image, but whoa nelly?can they put on a show! Riding high on their best CD in years, NYMPHETAMINE, and a sweet major label deal with Roadrunner under their belts, Cradle of Filth could only build upon the spectacle that was unleashed on their last appearance...or so I thought. Unfortunately, expectations were high and the band failed to deliver the goods. Devoid of the eye-popping sights, the stage was rather barren except for a pulpit housed at the very back where background vocalist Sarah Jezebel sang and three silk screens set up that displayed projected images from the CD booklets and various art pieces. Where were the stilt-walkers and freakish cast of characters from the DAMNATION AND A DAY tour? NYMPHETAMINE is a more stripped-down record than the last few and perhaps the band decided to scale down their gargantuan stage show as well, but with Roadrunner opening their wallets for the record and MTV2 footing the bill for the tour, one would think Cradle of Filth would pour on the effects and exhibition!
Lack of visual stimuli aside and drawing from their lengthy catalogue, Cradle of Filth played a decent 75-minute set to the appreciative throng. Weathering continuous grief from his wireless mike, Dani Filth spewed his trademark wails and roars while lead guitarist James McIlroy did his best Cronos imitation with some ferocious hair swirling. Bassist Dave Pybus looked generally happy to be on stage while rhythm guitarist Paul Allender lurked in the shadows at stage left. The crown jewel of this band is keyboardist Martin Powell, whose classical influences and immense talent bring so much to the music. His haunting intro to ?Her Ghost In The Fog? and other passages add just the right sinister touch to Cradle of Filth?s harsh blend of blackened goth. On record, Sarah Jezebel?s powerful voice is as vital an instrument as the drums or guitars however she must have had an off-night. Jezebel was painfully out of tune on ?Mannequin? and her take on the Liv Kristine vocal passages on ?Nymphetamine? were nothing short of blasphemous. Furthermore, she is a trained opera singer so why were the operatic vocals of ?Nymphetamine? sampled rather than sung live?? The setlist was strong??Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids? and ?Gilded Cunt? were noticeable standouts?but there also were noticeable omissions. ?Cthulu Dawn,? ?Funeral In Carpathia,? ?Summer Dying Fast? and ?Queen of Winter, Throned? were all played in 2003 but were dropped in favor of tracks from the new CD. ?Gilded Cunt? came out very well as did ?Nemesis,? but as stated earlier, ?Nymphetamine? is too dependent on the Liv Kristine vocals to play out in a live setting. ?Her Ghost In The Fog? was augmented with typical tongue-in-cheek fervor as subliminal words and phrases (?Arse,? ?Murder,? and ?Support The War?) were flashed on the silk screens with juvenile aplomb. Still, this was an inferior performance from a band that has proven they have much more to offer their fans. Something just seemed to be missing on this night. Maybe they are worn out from having two albums released back-to-back along with the label shakeups or the relentless touring undertaken in support of DAMNATION AND A DAY, but hopefully that spark will be reignited on their next visit because Cradle of Filth is as much of a visual draw as they are a musical one.
CRADLE OF FILTH SETLIST
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Tortured Soul Asylum
Her Ghost In The Fog
The Forest Whispers My Name
A Bruise Upon The Silent Moon (Intro)
The Promise of Fever
Cruelty Brought Three Orchids
From The Cradle To Enslave
In an ironic twist of fate, the headliners were shown up by the openers. Even with a half hour to prove themselves, Arch Enemy left an indelible mark on Vancouver. They were the only TRUE headbangers to be found amidst poseurs and bad suburban hardcore aimed at mall kids. Regrettably, the 2004 version of MTV2?s Headbanger?s Ball paled in comparison to last year?s show as all four bands from last year?s stint broke out big this year. Heaven help us if Bleeding Through gets the same reward and based on Cradle of Filth?s half-baked performance, they do not even deserve to be headlining.
**Thanks to Jamie at House of Blues for the ticket and photo pass.
Cradle of Filth official site
Arch Enemy official site
Bleeding Through official site
Himsa official site