Arch Enemy, Chimaira, God Forbid, Hate Eternal Live In Vancouver: April 13, 2006

Arch Enemy / Chimaira / God Forbid / Hate Eternal
Thursday, April 13, 2006
The Croatian Cultural Centre
Vancouver, BC  Canada

**Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

Spring has sprung and so begins the influx of metal tours once again.  The Jagermeister-sponsored run of dates featured headlining Swedish melodic death stalwarts, Arch Enemy, with Cleveland’s neo-thrashers, Chimaira, Jersey-bred metalcore giants, God Forbid, and Floridian brutal death metallers, Hate Eternal, rounding out the bill.  Needless to say, the guitars ran the show here as solos were dropped left and right and the melodic riffing hung over the crowd like a six-string cherub.  The line-up was an interesting mix, too, as Hate Eternal certainly stood out like a sore thumb among their more easy-on-the-ear touring mates but each band was warmly received as Vancouver hailed all with raised horns, banging heads and swirling moshpits.

After suffering the crushing blow that Hate Eternal did, it was a wonder they even stayed on the tour.  Just days before the April 3rd kick-off, drummer Derek Roddy announced he was leaving the band—an almost certain death knell given Roddy’s talent and the band’s brutally fast material.  Instead, vocalist/guitarist Erik Rutan refuted Roddy’s claims and without skipping a beat announced ex-Chimaira/Dying Fetus skinsman, Kevin Talley, would be filling in on the Jagermeister dates.  I was a bit sceptical to say the least but Talley came through and impressed everyone as if he had been in the band for years.  He even left Post-It notes in the men’s bathroom asking people to come to the band’s merch booth after Hate Eternal’s set to check out a new instructional drum DVD he was selling!  Hate Eternal has always been a brutal three-piece (still not sure what happened to Eric Hersemann who was announced as second guitarist last summer but never materialized) but having another guitar player would certainly allow some of the more complex material to be played to its fullest live.  Rutan manages to shift fluidly between vocals, rhythm guitar, leads and solos but it cannot be easy to juggle so many roles in the live setting.  Besides slinging a mean bass, Randy Piro’s vocal accompaniments to Rutan’s guttural roars provide an excellent harmony that adds some real depth to tracks like “Faceless One” and “Servants of The Gods.”  The title track of the new CD served as a blistering opener followed by “The Victorious Reign,” but I was a bit disappointed that tracks like “Powers That Be” and “Dogma Condemned” were not played.  With only 30 minutes allotted to plead their case, Hate Eternal focused mainly on their latest release, 2005’s I, MONARCH, but touched on 2002’s KING OF ALL KINGS, as well (songs from 2000’s CONQUERING THE THRONE were not part of the setlist).  Unfortunately, Hate Eternal suffered what many openers do at The Croatian Cultural Centre and that is the cavernous sound turned their already amelodic speed into cacophonous mush.  With a 6:45PM start time, the venue was barely one-quarter full and the CCC resembles a high school gymnasium so without a lot of bodies present for the sound to absorb, it just bounces off the walls creating a messy sludge of echoing noise.  Hate Eternal was also really out of place on this tour, too.  Their bludgeoning death-grind saw its share of fans come out early but many seemed a bit put-off at the intensity and incomprehensible lyrics spewed by Rutan.  Last summer’s jaunt with Krisiun was a much better pairing but hopefully Hate Eternal’s half-hour set won over a few people with open-minds who would have normally dismissed them. 

I, Monarch
The Victorious Reign
Faceless One
Servants of The Gods

Nevermore held the next spot on the first half of this tour but, for whatever reason, decided to hand the reins over to God Forbid after the Seattle show for the second half.  This was actually God Forbid’s first show and, as expected, they were as strong as ever.  With guitarist Doc Coyle dressed in the band’s witty “Black To The Future” t-shirt, God Forbid tore through a thirty minute set that was far too short (when will these guys finally headline?!?!) and when Byron Davis announced they only had two songs left, his remark was met with a sea of boos.  Coyle and his brother Dallas compose some of the sweetest dual guitar leads this side of the Atlantic and out of the five or six times I have seen them play live, they are always 100% spot on.  “Force Fed” and “Anti-Hero” from 2004’s GONE FOREVER contain blazing solos and the latter features a stunning breakdown section that got the moshpit moving.  Five tracks from the band’s brilliant new release, IV: THE CONSTITUTION OF TREASON, were played including the thrashy “Crucify Your Beliefs,” the arpeggio-laced “To The Fallen Hero” which the band just shot a video for, the infectious “Chains of Humanity” and set opener “The End of The World.”  Surprisingly, “Broken Promises,” a fan favourite from 2001’s DETERMINATION album, wasn’t played nor was GONE FOREVER’s “Better Days.”  Still, there were no signs of first-night jitters as Dallas Coyle worked out the pre-show kinks with a few dozen push-ups at the side of the stage and Davis sounded as gruff as ever, while the Coyles backed him up with their finely-tuned clean vocals.  God Forbid is always a big draw for me and never disappoint.  As big as they are, this band deserves to be even bigger for their relentless touring and obvious love of metal.  Don’t miss God Forbid on this tour.

Welcome To The Apocalypse (Intro)
The End of The World
Chains of Humanity
To The Fallen Hero
Crucify Your Beliefs

This was my third time seeing Chimaira and each time has been better than the last.  They got lumped in with the nu-metal dregs upon releasing 2001’s PASS OUT OF EXISTENCE but 2003’s THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF REASON saw the band move towards more of a Machine Head/neo-thrash direction.  The dark, punishing material and vastly improved songwriting—not to mention increased guitar solos—found on last year’s self-titled release firmly cemented Chimaira as a veritable metal band.  Things seemed to be going well for Chimaira but just two days prior to the Vancouver show, the band announced a parting of ways with Roadrunner Records that vocalist Mark Hunter alluded to with “I’ve got two words for you: Roadrunner Records” followed by a thumbs down.  Not sure what happened but things obviously were not amicable with the split.  On that note, original Chimaira drummer, Andols Herrick, is now back in the fold after being replaced by none other than…Kevin Talley!  Along with guitarist Rob Arnold, Herrick is one of the most underrated musicians in metal and for whatever reason, neither have ever been given their due respect.  Arnold’s guitar work on CHIMAIRA is reason enough to pick up the CD and he really nails the solos live, as well.  “Nothing Remains” and “Power Trip” rise to a new level backed by Arnold’s work and the brutality of tracks like “Salvation,” “Lazarus” and “Pure Hatred” really benefit from the guitarist’s input.  Chris Spicuzza, he who is tagged as “keyboardist/sampler,” is barely audible on CD but he slips in some background screams live and does a lot of headbanging between triggering the occasional bass bomb and adding a fade-out effect.  I still wonder how much he really contributes to Chimaira’s sound, though.  Hunter, plagued by a serious case of “chafed nipples” from his t-shirt, slipped on a Hate Eternal shirt after “Save Ourselves” and announced that he wasn’t “pulling a Britney Spears” by changing but couldn’t play with sore nipples.  Hunter’s vocals on the mesmerizing “Lazarus” and clean singing on “Salvation” show that he can do more than scream, too.  I really am gaining respect for Chimaira and witnessing their live show sure helps speed the process along. 

Nothing Remains
Save Ourselves
Power Trip
Inside The Horror
The Dehumanizing Process
Eyes of A Criminal
Pure Hatred

It was December 2004 when Arch Enemy last came through town and they were opening for Cradle of Filth and Bleeding Through on the MTV2 Headbanger’s Ball Tour (read review here).  They were shafted by getting their set cut down to 30 minutes, yet still managed to steal the show from the other three bands on the bill.  Last summer’s twenty minute turn on Ozzfest’s second stage got a lot of momentum going and at last, we were treated to a full headlining set by Arch Enemy.  I have seen Arch Enemy three times now with three different guitarists and while each one brings their own distinctive style to the band’s music, there will never be another Chris Amott.  New recruit Fredrik Akesson does a respectable job and nails the solos and instantly recognizable riffs but the guitar tandem of Amott & Amott just had something magical that cannot be duplicated.  Ever the showman, Michael Amott didn’t disappoint with flawless, fleet-fingered solos throughout the band’s set, but “Burning Angel” was a definite highlight.  The riffing on newer tracks like “Nemesis” and “I Am Legend/Out For Blood” easily stand up against those of the genre-defining “Bury Me An Angel,” too.  Both guitarists laid down a stunning dual arpeggio solo on the fast and thrashy “Dead Bury Their Dead” that would have brought a tear to the eye of any aspiring axeman in the crowd and the intro to “Ravenous” was equally as impressive.  The rhythm section of Sharlee D’Angelo and Daniel Erlandson shook the house and the phenomenal sound and lightshow really accentuated the band’s performance.  Angela Gossow’s throat-shredding vocals peppered “Dead Eyes See No Future” and fans sang along in the chorus of the call-to-arms live anthem, “We Will Rise,” but her take on Johan Liiva’s early material like “The Immortal” and “Bury Me An Angel” still leaves me a bit flat.  I would be interested to hear her take a stab at tracks like personal favourites “Pilgrim,” “Seed of Hate,” “Silverwing” or “Beast of Man,” though.  While there was no encore, the instrumental section of “Bridge of Destiny” and “Enter The Machine” served as overtures that allowed Gossow to jump down in front and shake hands with fans while the rest of the band had time to give thanks and bow to an appreciative crowd.  Arch Enemy’s sixty minute set was a big step up from their previous, criminally short stage times but another fifteen minutes of hearing “Silent Wars,” “Heart of Darkness,” “Leader of The Rats” and “Silverwing” would have really been the icing on the cake.  Still, I doubt anyone left complaining or disappointed by Arch Enemy. 

Dead Eyes See No Future
The Immortal
My Apocalypse
Burning Angel
I Am Legend/Out For Blood
Skeleton Dance
Bury Me An Angel
Dead Bury Their Dead
We Will Rise/Bridge of Destiny
Enter The Machine (Outro)

Maybe it was the fact the next day was a holiday but fans seemed to really get into this show.  Without a doubt, this was an excellent line-up that provided plenty to get excited about and all four bands were firing on all cylinders through the night, so the first big metal tour package to hit Vancouver in 2006 left many in attendance with sore necks and cramped hands from throwing horns and headbanging for 4 ½ hours straight.

***Thanks to Jenny at House of Blues for the press pass and to Bryan at Earache Records and George at Century Media Records for photo approval.



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