The Halo Effect + Amon Amarth + Machine Head
@ Wembley Arena, UK
10th September 2022
Review & Photography by Graham Hilling
The Wembley area is thronged this evening with metalheads mingling with the Saturday shoppers. The metallers are all making their way to the Arena for what looks like an epic evening of metal as the Vikings and Lionhearts tour rolls into London, giving us three bands, all pretty individual in their own right, and all ready to set the arena alight.
First up we have The Halo Effect. This is a newly formed band composed of 5 former members of In Flames. So, while they may be new in band terms (indeed, this is only their 8th live show!), I think we can safely assume that they will be pretty solid, even on the dauntingly large stage at the arena.
Promoting the debut album, “Days of the Lost”, which only came out in August, it is predictable that this is basically the set we have delivered to us tonight. And delivered with some style, I have to say!
The Halo Effect play melodic death metal with some finely crafted tunes, just the right balance of brutality and catchiness. You can hear that the Gothenburg metal style runs throughout the whole album and the set tonight, very reminiscent of At The Gates and In Flames actually. Not a bad way to start proceedings at all.
The whole band look overjoyed to be playing here tonight and don’t look in the least phased by playing an arena gig so early in the bands history. Mikael Stanne continues to deliver impressive vocals and the band sound squeaky tight too. Combined with an impressive, balanced sound tonight they definitely do the trick with regards warming up the crowd.
Stand out tracks are opener “Days of the Lost” and “In Broken Trust” but, really, while this is a short set, there really isn’t much to not like!
Another cracking track, “Shadowminds” concludes the set and the band leave the stage.
The Halo Effect Setlist
Days of the Lost
The Needless End
Feel What I Believe
In Broken Trust
Last of Our Kind
There is then a sizeable pause while the theming for Amon Amarth takes shape on the stage. And the theming is very impressive and up there with massive bands like Maiden.
Two massive “stone” Vikings are set up on both sides of the stage, with the drum riser in the middle a massive Viking helmet, topped off with the drumkit.
Throughout the set, the theming is changed to better reflect the themes of the songs, it’s a big undertaking and managed very well so much respect to the crew here. In addition to the fantastic theming, there is also a pyro display to take your breath away, most songs have flames to accompany them along with a massive confetti cannon at one point.
But we mustn’t forget the music! Starting with “Guardians of Asgaard” from the 2008 album “Twilight of the Thunder God” set the tone for the evening, a slowish song which allows the headbanging to start in a gentle manner and a chorus that makes for much crowd participation!
“Ravens Flight” sees the pace crank up and the crowd are lapping it up! Johan Hegg looks like a man possessed for much of the time, pouring our vocals to make the ground shake! The dual guitars of Mikkonen & Söderberg perfectly balanced with a very solid rhythm section for them build on.
The single “Put Your Back Into The Oar” sees what can only be described as “rowing pits” develop in the crowd with lines of punters sitting down and rowing! Clearly they are having a good evening! We then get a selection of Vikings on the stage having a fight while the theming changes.
“The Way of Vikings” and “First Kill”, both from the 2016 album “Jomsviking” keep the brutality levels up and before we know it we’re nearing the end of the set. The whole band toast the audience from their Viking drinking horns, Johan Hegg seems to have an extra large drink and shows the audience his empty horn to cheers from the crowd. Throughout there are flames galore!
The theming changes again to see a massive sea serpent snaking around the stage and simulated thunder and lightning, truly impressive. The set concludes with “Raise Your horns” and “Twilight of the Thunder God” and Amon Amarth leave the stage.
It’s been an impressive performance all round and while I’ve never been a massive fan, tonight has actually changed my opinion somewhat. The songs, much like all of the bands this evening, tread a fine line between heaviness and being accessible. Tonight, the balance was just right.
Amon Amarth Setlist
Guardians of Asgaard
The Great Heathen Army
Deceiver of the Gods
Get in the Ring
Put Your Back Into the Oar
The Pursuit of Vikings
The Way of Vikings
Raise Your Horns
Twilight of the Thunder God
So, another pause in the proceedings allows the punters to catch a breath, take a loo break and grab a drink. This also allows the crew to remove all of the Amon Amarth stage theming and replace it with the Machine Head stage setup. Which, to be honest, is a little underwhelming in comparison.
So, it is down to the music to do the talking and it starts with a massive roar from the crowd as the guys take to the stage and start with “BECØME THE FIRESTØRM” from “Of Kingdom and Crown” – this is a ferocious way to start the set and sets the direction for the next hour or so nicely.
“Imperium” & “Ten Ton Hammer” keep the pressure well and truly up. Robb Flynn looks like a child let loose in a sweet shop, consistently shouting for circle pits and “Beers up!”. The crowd obliges on both counts with the circle pits aplenty!
While the stage theming for Machine Head is not up to that of Amon Amarth they do still have some serious pyros, with the flames almost kissing the ceiling of the arena and generating some serious heat for the front few rows. I wait for the safety people to pull the plug but thankfully this never happens!
The band themselves are tight, and look like they are hungry to play, they don’t put a foot wrong although I cannot help but think that the place to see Machine Head is really in a small, sweaty, hot club venue. While the arena is massive and the sound is brilliant, Machine Head really lend themselves to an intimate setup rather than the big show of an arena gig.
Having said that, the crowd clearly are not unhappy with the arena arrangement and the circle pits continue throughout the set. “Darkness Within” changes the direction and slows things down a little, followed by “Locust” from the same album. Both songs show a maturity in the song writing that is great to see live.
We’re then transported back in time with “From This Day” and the mighty “Davidian”, clearly a massive crowd pleaser and for good reason. This remains one of the best metal songs ever written in my humble opinion (on an album, “Burn My Eyes”, which is chock full of fantastic songs, well ahead of its time when released in 1994 and still sounding great today).
So the evening is brought to a close with “Halo” and confetti cannons – another cracking gig with three bands on top form, you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a Saturday evening and I think most of the crowd would have to agree with this!
Machine Head Setlist
Become The Firestorm
Ten Ton Hammer
I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)
Aesthetics of Hate
From This Day