Twin Guitar Heaven
It's great to see the Manchester Academy 2 sold out for the melodic death metal maestros. There were a good mix of people in the audience, fans of all ages who like their metal heavy but laced with hooks and riffs. There was a high percentage of women in the audience who obviously love the thunderous music but who perhaps see vocalist Angela Gossow as a role model, a woman who not only demands respect in the metal world, but also has one of the best death metal voices, male or female, within the genre.
Opening with 'Doomsday Machine's highlight 'Nemesis' the crowd went nuts. The sound was almost perfect, both guitars were loud but very clear, and the drums were perfect in the mix, with the bass drum beating on your chest like a hammer. Angela sounded even more aggressive than she does on disc, screaming and spitting into the microphone like a vicious snake ready to attack. New guitarist Fredrik Akesson was fitting in nicely, effortlessly trading solos with Mike Amott. It was great to see the twin axe attack back in metal after the dour nu-metal years, because for myself and no doubt many others, it adds another dimension to the music. Fredrik looks pretty handy on the six-string especially in the few minutes he was given to show off by himself. I can understand new guy Fredrik getting his chance to shine but why drummer Daniel Erlandsson was given a solo is a mystery to me. We all know he's awesome, we can hear it in the music and personally I'd rather hear a thunderous version of 'The Immortal' or 'Lament of a Mortal Soul' than four minutes of drums.
The set was a little new album heavy, only plundering a few tracks from their extensive back catalogue, however the new songs came across superbly, especially 'Taking Back My Soul' which seemed to have new life in the live setting. The majestic 'Ravenous' was the highlight of the set, and before I knew it they were playing 'We Will Rise' as their last encore. I looked at my watch and realised I had stood through eighty minutes of metal which had felt like only thirty, a testament to their performance and song-writing. For the whole set Angela head banged, threw fists in the air and gave a pout that said, 'I'm so heavy metal and if you don't like it I'm going to rip your goddam head off.' The huge never ending mosh pit was entering it's forth generation when the final notes of 'We Will Rise' echoed around the brimming room. A quick double solo from the guitar players ended a top draw show and it held as a reminder of how thrash metal used to be over a decade ago: aggressive, great guitar work and lots of head banging. Let's hope they can move up to the Academy 1 next time.