Concert Review – Trivium & Arch Enemy (The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, 11/07/2017)

Over 1,500 metalheads headed over to Toronto’s Greektown for a flammable night of modern and vibrant contemporary metal music, courtesy of the iconic Arch Enemy and the unstoppable Trivium.

OPENING ACTS: Fit For An Autopsy and While She Sleeps

Although it’s getting colder and colder as the month of November begins to switch from the colors of fall to the monochromatic look of winter, I guess no one can complain about the clear and not-so-chilly weather yesterday in Toronto, turning the night into the perfect occasion to head to The Danforth Music Hall, located at the easternmost side of what’s known as “Greektown”, to watch the fulminant performances by two of the most important bands in contemporary metal music, Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters Arch Enemy and American Heavy Metal troopers Trivium, both promoting their brand new kick-ass albums. Not only that, weeks before the concert all tickets were already sold out, which means we were going to experience around 1,500 metalmaniacs screaming, jumping up and down and slamming into the pit together with the bands. It can’t get any better than this, my friends.

The two bands chosen to warm up the crowd in a night of modern and aggressive heavy music were American Deathcore act Fit For An Autopsy and British Metalcore group While She Sleeps, with FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY being the first to hit the stage at 6:30pm. Formed in 2008 in Jersey City, in the state of New Jersey, United States, the band is supporting Arch Enemy and Trivium during their fall tour by promoting their latest album, titled The Great Collapse, released earlier this year. If Deathcore is your cup of tea, go check The Great Collapse in full on YouTube as their setlist was 2/3 formed of songs from that album, and also watch their official video for Black Mammoth, the closing song of their performance.

Setlist
Hydra
Heads Will Hang
Absolute Hope Absolute Hell
Still We Destroy
Iron Moon
Black Mammoth

Band members
Joe Badolato – vocals
Will Putney – guitar
Patrick Sheridan – guitar
Tim Howley – guitar
Peter Spinazola – bass
Josean Orta – drums

After that good start it was time for WHILE SHE SLEEPS to blast their Metalcore precisely at 7:15pm to all metalheads that were already at the venue (and the ones arriving a little late). Formed in 2006, this Sheffield-based squad is currently promoting their new album You Are We, with their setlist also being almost 100% based on it. New songs like the opening tune You Are We, Silence Speaks, and the closing one Hurricane kept the audience warm enough for the main attractions of the night, with lead singer Lawrence Taylor and bassist Aaran Mckenzie being absolutely on fire from start to finish.

Setlist
You Are We
Civil Isolation
Brainwashed
Feel
Silence Speaks
Hurricane

Band members
Lawrence Taylor – vocals
Sean Long – guitar
Mat Welsh – guitar, vocals
Aaran Mckenzie – bass
Adam Savage -drums

ARCH ENEMY

Finally, after over three long years (the last time the band was in town was in 2014 together with Kreator), Toronto had the pleasure of witnessing another bestial performance by ARCH ENEMY, precisely at 8:05pm (the punctuality of the concerts in Toronto always amazes me), and let me tell you that this time the whole band was even sharper and heavier than last time. Well, let’s say that is most probably due to the fact that in their new album, the excellent Will to Power, Arch Enemy put the pedal to the metal, sounding less melodic and more ruthless, and when their new songs were transferred to the stage the result couldn’t be different than some insane mosh pits, lots of growling and fists and horns in the air.

Frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz (with her always exotic and apocalyptic attire) seemed extremely happy and excited (as expected) to be with Arch Enemy once again in her homeland Canada, saying that it might be difficult for the band to cross the ocean to play in North America, but when they’re able to finally come to Canada and the US, it’s definitely worth it. She said that although she’s originally from Montreal, Quebec, she nurtures a deep passion and respect for Toronto, and the fans responded to that statement with a lot of enthusiasm, banging their heads nonstop to each and every song played by Arch Enemy. As mentioned, the new songs worked extremely well, in special the high-octane Slayer-ish tornado titled The Race, which by the way Alissa said is her favorite of the new album (and mine too), and the classy and groovy Blood in the Water.

Sharlee D’Angelo and Daniel Erlandsson were as precise and competent as usual with their bass and drums, respectively, but I must say it’s impressive how crystal clear, blazing and tuneful the guitars by Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis sounded during their entire performance. Those guys are true BEASTS with their cutting riffs and solos, sounding so perfect to the point you couldn’t tell if they were playing live or if it was the studio version of the songs. Whoever adjusts their instruments prior to the shows is a technical genius, no doubt about that, and if you get to see Arch Enemy live anywhere during this tour simply close your eyes and let each note played by Mr. Amott during the classic instrumental piece Snow Bound penetrate deep into your soul. The only “complaint” I have about their concert was the presence of not-so-exciting songs in their setlist, like Stolen Life, You Will Know My Name and Avalanche, which worked well, I have to admit that, but imagine if they played some of their more obscure and scathing classic tunes, like what happened with Ravenous, Dead Bury Their Dead and especially Nemesis? Well, we’ll have to wait for their next Canadian tour to see what they’ll do to their setlist (and I can’t wait for that).

Setlist
Set Flame to the Night (Intro)
The World Is Yours
Ravenous
Stolen Life
War Eternal
My Apocalypse
Blood in the Water
You Will Know My Name
The Race
The Eagle Flies Alone
As the Pages Burn
Dead Bury Their Dead
We Will Rise
Avalanche
Snow Bound
Nemesis
Enter the Machine (Outro)

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

TRIVIUM

After a short break, where the house DJ played some all-time classics on the speakers such as Iron Maiden’s “The Prisoner” and Motörhead’s “Born to Raise Hell” to keep the momentum created by Arch Enemy going, Orlando-based metallers TRIVIUM took the stage by storm at 9:45pm sharp already with the opening track of their superb new opus, The Sin and the Sentence, the title-track The Sin and the Sentence, which made the crowd explode in awe and ignited some serious mosh pits all over the venue. Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu and Paolo Gregoletto were as electrified and in sync as usual, with Matt leading the fans with his “meme-generator” faces and gestures, but it was newcomer Alex Bent who stole the spotlight. Holy shit, that guy is a relentless killing machine on drums, elevating the band’s already heavy sonority to a whole new level. Needless to say, he played all songs to perfection, in special one of the best of the new album and a serious candidate to become a Trivium classic, the Black Metal-inspired tune Betrayer.

Surprisingly (at least for me), one of the songs with the strongest reaction from fans was Until the World Goes Cold, which is a pretty nice ballad but, let’s be realistic, it’s far from being as awesome as classics like Down From the Sky and Kirisute Gomen. Two of the other songs from The Sin and the Sentence, the radio-friendly The Heart From Your Hate and Thrown Into the Fire, also sounded and felt truly heavy and thrilling, proving once again that Trivium are one of the most effective bands in heavy music when composing both heavier and slower, more melodic songs. Just like what happened with Arch Enemy, I missed a few songs in their setlist, especially some of the more complex tunes from Shogun, but Matt & Co. know what they were doing when they put this setlist together, trying to encompass all of the band’s phases in a little less than one hour and a half.

Last but not least, when the intro Capsizing the Sea started playing we all knew the show was coming to an end, but not before Matt thanked Toronto for another fantastic night of metal, promising to always return to the city with another blast of Trivium music, and asking everyone present at the venue to get down or kneel before one of their biggest classics, if not the biggest of all, In Waves. If you enjoy Slipknot you’ve already seen Corey Taylor and his bandmates do the same during their concerts, and with In Waves that Slipknot-ish formula worked extremely well like a precise time bomb, with all fans jumping up and down like maniacs while bursting their lungs screaming the two words from the song’s name. I guess there wasn’t a single fan that wasn’t eager for more Trivium when the show was over, as both Arch Enemy and Trivium had shorter-than-usual time slots to play for co-headlining the tour, but again, we must learn to be patient and wait for Trivium to get back in town in a not-so-distant future, right? At least Matt promised to be back soon, and we must trust the man.

Setlist
The Sin and the Sentence
Down From the Sky
Betrayer
Until the World Goes Cold
Like Light to the Flies
Rain
Dusk Dismantled
Strife
The Heart From Your Hate
Kirisute Gomen
Thrown Into the Fire

Encore:
Capsizing the Sea (Intro)
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

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Album Review – Arch Enemy / Will to Power (2017)

A good balance between the classic days of the band with the more modern path they decided to venture after the arrival of frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz. But please, they need to stay away from clean vocals.

Will to Power, the tenth studio album by Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy, might be far from being a masterpiece, but at least in my humble opinion it’s a considerable improvement from their previous installment, the uninspired War Eternal, released in 2014. The first Arch Enemy album to feature guitarist Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, Conquering Dystopia) as well as clean singing as lead vocals, Will to Power presents a good balance between the classic days of the band with Angela Gossow on vocals with the more modern path they decided to venture after the arrival of frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz, with each song having its own soul and purpose on the album.

Although Jeff definitely brought a new dynamism to the music by Arch Enemy after joining the band in 2014, I guess it was the departure of Nick Cordle that same year that had the most positive impact on the songwriting by Michael Amott, who seems to have gotten rid of the damaging “generic” virus that infested his music in War Eternal. Furthermore, another nice touch in Will to Power is the album’s stylish and meaningful cover art, designed by American artist Alex Reisfar. “The human skull as a central focal point, the flesh sort of falling off into the circular pattern. The snake ouroboros weaving in and out of the mouths and throats of the severed heads of a wolf, a goat and a vampire bat… All representing self-determination and a predatory, almost parasitic will to power”, explained Mr. Amott, and as the music progresses in the album you’ll realize how powerful the art is and how much it enhances the impact of the whole album.

Set Flame to the Night is a classy intro perfect for their live performances, warming up the listener for the high-octane anthem The Race, my favorite song of the album, where Alissa and drummer Daniel Erlandsson take the lead with their wicked growls and unstoppable beats, respectively, violently questioning the dangerous direction our society is taking (“I heard there was a race / Where we’re all one race / Color, gender, age never could dictate / I saw there was a time / When we valued all life / Nobody oppressed, everyone had rights / Suddenly, in an age where the distance between us is binary / All we see, is an internal war friendly fire in the sky and respect on the floor”). Less intense and more melodic, Blood in the Water, another fantastic choice for their live concerts, transpires old school Arch Enemy with a pinch of their contemporary creations, with the flawless guitar duo comprised of Michael and Jeff being absolutely on fire, blasting slashing riffs and solos throughout the whole song. And in The World Is Yours we face more insane riffs by Michael and Jeff, not to mention the always awesome keys by guest musician Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) and the song’s sing-along, catchy chorus (“If you want the world / Use your mind / Take control / Feel the strength / Rise from within / If you really want it the world is yours”).

One of the first tracks in Will to Power to be revealed, The Eagle Flies Alone, is not as gripping as the rest of the album despite its powerful lyrics, with Alissa showcasing a good vocal performance, though, as well as the good job done by Michael and Jeff on the guitars; followed by Reason to Believe, which really feels like if Arch Enemy meets The Agonist as it’s the first ever Arch Enemy song with lead clean vocals in almost its entirety (with some growls added to make it less cheesy). It’s indeed a power ballad that might make their newer fans happy, but it’s unfortunately too generic compared to what they’re capable of. Not even Michael’s own brother, ex-Arch Enemy guitarist Christopher Amott, is capable of saving it from being tiresome. On the other hand, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo kicks off the dark and belligerent tune Murder Scene, where Alissa sounds truly enraged adding even more electricity to the song’s already boisterous rhythm. Put differently, it’s top-notch Melodic Death Metal with hints of traditional Death Metal, with highlights to the superb job done by both Michael and Jeff with their fiery strings; whereas First Day in Hell, the most ominous of all songs, brings forward a neck-breaking main riff boosted by Alissa’s obscure, deep gnarls and screams, and as the story being told evolves you’ll feel your soul getting darker and darker.

Then we have the instrumental bridge Saturnine, shaping up the sonority for the multi-layered and gripping Dreams of Retribution, a Melodic Death Metal feast that brings together the past, present and future of the band, with its guitars and bass being in total sync while Daniel adds progressiveness to the musicality and Jens once again kicks ass with his spot-on keyboard notes. The second to last song of the regular version of the album, titled My Shadow and I, is another violent creation by Arch Enemy, sounding slightly less inspired than some of the previous songs but still above average, mainly due to the intricacy found in drums and bass lines. Finally, A Fight I Must Win might be slower than most songs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cohesive, piercing and metallic, representing almost to perfection the path Arch Enemy has been following with their latest albums, closing Will to Power in a strong way. Actually, if you go for the limited edition digipak, you’ll be treated to their cover for English Street Punk band Charged GBH’s 1982 song City Baby Attacked by Rats (you can listen to the original version HERE), an amazing version by Michael, Alissa & Co. that’s definitely worth the investment in the special edition of the album.

Overall, Will to Power is a pretty decent album by Michael and his crew, being recommended for all fans of modern Melodic Death Metal. After listening to the album for the very first time, I had some mixed feelings about some of the songs, while others (the ones where clean vocals where pretty much nonexistent) hit me in a very positive manner right from the first second, proving that, at least to my ears and my heart, Arch Enemy still got it and can deliver high-end metal music if they want to. I honestly believe the best thing the band can do right now is to stay away from the idea that clean vocals are a good addition or variation to their music, because in the end that’s certainly not what made this band so relevant and admired in Heavy Metal. I’m not saying Alissa is not a good singer when using her clean voice; quite the contrary, she’s an incredible vocalist, but Arch Enemy are a synonym to rebelliousness and anger, things that can only be represented by some high dosages of rabid screams and deep guttural growls.

Best moments of the album: The Race, Blood in the Water, Murder Scene and Dreams of Retribution.

Worst moments of the album: The Eagle Flies Alone and Reason to Believe.

Released in 2017 Century Media

Track listing
1. Set Flame to the Night (instrumental) 1:18
2. The Race 3:15
3. Blood in the Water 3:55
4. The World Is Yours 4:53
5. The Eagle Flies Alone 5:15
6. Reason to Believe 4:47
7. Murder Scene 3:50
8. First Day in Hell 4:48
9. Saturnine (instrumental) 1:09
10. Dreams of Retribution 6:40
11. My Shadow and I 4:05
12. A Fight I Must Win 6:37

Limited Edition Digipak bonus track
13. City Baby Attacked by Rats (Charged GBH cover) 2:48

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

Guest musicians
Jens Johansson – keyboards on “The World Is Yours”, “Saturnine” and “Dreams of Retribution”
Christopher Amott – guitars & keyboards on “Reason to Believe”

Concert Review – Arch Enemy & Kreator (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 10/29/2014)

Mosh pits, mosh pits! We’ve got mosh pits! Come grab your mosh pits!

OPENING ACTS: Starkill and Huntress

arch enemy_kreator_natour2014Unfortunately, due to the absolutely insane traffic to get from Oakville to The Opera House in Toronto at 6pm on a Wednesday (plus the fact there were TWO accidents on the highway, making things even worse), I missed BOTH opening acts, American Melodic Death Metal band STARKILL and American Heavy Metal band HUNTRESS. Well, I got the very last song from Huntress and it was truly kick-ass for the less than 5 minutes I had to see them, but I cannot say I actually saw those two bands in action. I’m really sorry, guys! It’s the price to pay when you live in the suburbs and have to work for the entire day before going to concerts, but I’ll try to review Starkill’s 2014 new album Virus of the Mind as soon as possible and a new Huntress album whenever it’s released in the future for sure. And Jill Janus is so beautiful, she will be a Metal Chick of the Month one day here at The Headbanging Moose.

KREATOR

IMG_3046Fuckin’ brutal, fuckin’ sick, fuckin’ awesome, and all other “fuckings” you can think of. German Thrash Metal behemoths KREATOR delivered a motherfuckin’ amazing nonstop violent concert, tearing the house down with their classic, fast and furious heavy music. Mille Petroza drove the fans crazy each time he screamed “TORONTO!”, demanding every single person at The Opera House to slam into the mosh pits and scream as loud as possible. And what can be said about drummer Jürgen “Ventor” Reil? One day we’ll see the guy arrested for excessive violence against his drum kit.

The band’s setlist was also a lesson in violence, with classics such as Violent Revolution, Extreme Aggression, Phobia, Voices of the Dead and Impossible Brutality putting a smile on everyone’s faces, as well as some bruises along our bodies, of course. However, there were three songs that reached perfection and made their whole performance even more memorable: the sensational Enemy of God (my favorite Kreator song of all time), the new and boisterous Phantom Antichrist, and the last song of the setlist, Pleasure to Kill, which left a beautiful trail of devastation at the venue. The only problem with their performance and with the whole festival for me was: who was (were) the motherfucker(s) farting every 5 seconds during the concerts? C’mon, what had you eaten before getting to the venue? Rotten food? Five pounds of pulled pork? Rat meat? That smell was destroying my respiratory system, you sick bastard(s).

IMG_3055Anyway, I guess one of the top moments in everyone’s memories will be the infamous “Wall of Death”, especially for the ones who were at the opposite side of a giant fat bastard. Even at such a small venue, we did it, and it was so cool I saw people eager for more walls of death at every song played. Moreover, it’s always a pleasure to see metalheads picking other metalheads up whenever there was a fall, showing how respectful and united we are. Also, it amazes me to see more and more girls, Asians, Latin Americans and people from any other nationalities, religion, sexual orientation etc. at Heavy Metal concerts. I’m not going to be arrogant and say we are the evolution of mankind, but at least we’re trying harder and getting better results than any other “organized” society in the world, and that makes me really proud to be a metal fan.

Setlist
1. The Patriarch
2. Violent Revolution
3. Civilization Collapse
4. Extreme Aggression
5. Phobia
6. Enemy of God
7. Voices of the Dead
8. Endless Pain
9. Victory Will Come
10. Mars Mantra
11. Phantom Antichrist
12. Impossible Brutality
13. Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite)
14. Pleasure to Kill

Band members
Miland “Mille” Petrozza – vocals, guitar
Sami Yli-Sirniö – guitar
Christian “Speesy” Giesler – bass
Jürgen “Ventor” Reil – drums, vocals

ARCH ENEMY

IMG_3072When ARCH ENEMY open their concert with the superb Enemy Within, one of the best Melodic Death Metal songs in the history of music, you know it’s going to be a wild night. From the very first to the very last minute of their incredible performance, Michael, Alissa & Co. perfectly commanded the crowd with a flawless setlist, full of insane classics blended with newer songs. Maybe the only change I would have done to their setlist was replacing  the boring You Will Know My Name, which wasn’t that good live, with something more brutal like “Diva Satanica” or “I Am Legend/Out For Blood”, but that’s just my opinion. In regards to the other new songs from War Eternal, both War Eternal and As the Pages Burn sounded A LOT better live, with the latter being responsible for a humongous circle pit.

And how not to get thrilled with masterpieces like Ravenous, Revolution Begins, My Apocalypse, Dead Bury Their Dead, Blood on Your Hands and Nemesis? So many good moments I don’t even know what to say. Even less bestial songs like Under Black Flags We March, with Alissa White-Gluz waving the Arch Enemy flag for the delight of all fans, and No Gods, No Masters, where she led an intense jumping up and down during the entire song, were brilliant. By the way, although all songs played are classics or powerful enough to even wake up the dead, it was the band members’ individual performances that made the night truly memorable. Nick, Sharlee and Daniel were amazing, Alissa was a beast, and Mr. Michael Amott makes playing the guitar look so fuckin’ easy I want to buy one right know and start shredding, even if I have no idea on how to do it. Seriously, how can he be that awesome? It’s unbelievable how smooth, technical and soulful his guitar lines are. Snow Bound, oh, Snow Bound!

IMG_3087Talking about Alissa, our Canadian goddess was absolutely stunning, electrified, and more than happy and excited to be playing in Canada for the first time since joining Arch Enemy earlier this year. The smile on her face while holding the Canadian flag up high was priceless (and she looks gorgeous either smiling or playing the badass angry woman, no matter what). Now I truly know why Angela Gossow herself chose Alissa to replace her as the frontwoman of one of the most influential Melodic Death Metal bands of all time.

The Opera House will never be the same after all those hours of endless mosh pits, fists and horns in the air, and PURE FUCKIN’ METAL. They should change the name of the venue from now on to “The Mosh Pit House” or something like that. It was totally awesome, and I’m sure everyone that attended the festival will agree with me. At the end of the day, getting back to Oakville, waking up at 6am the next morning to work and go to the gym in the evening was extremely hard due to all the glorious pain flowing through my body, but nothing that some more Arch Enemy in my car and in my MP3 player couldn’t take care of. Mosh pits anybody?

Setlist
1. Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor)
2. Enemy Within
3. War Eternal
4. Ravenous
5. Revolution Begins
6. My Apocalypse
7. You Will Know My Name
8. Bloodstained Cross
9. Under Black Flags We March
10. As the Pages Burn
11. Dead Eyes See No Future
12. No Gods, No Masters
13. Dead Bury Their Dead
14. We Will Rise

Encore:
15. Khaos Overture
16. Yesterday Is Dead and Gone
17. Blood on Your Hands

Encore 2:
18. Snow Bound
19. Nemesis
20. Fields of Desolation (outro)
21. Enter the Machine

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars
Nick Cordle – lead guitars
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

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Metal Chick of the Month – Alissa White-Gluz

alissa01

This is War Eternal, Alissa!

In order to properly celebrate the first awesome year of The Headbanging Moose, no one would have been a better choice for our Metal Chick of the Month than this Canadian girl. She’s at the same time the Beauty AND the Beast, an inspiration to many women all around the world, and her convictions and talent are truly taking her to stardom. From the beautiful city of Montreal, Quebec, here comes Alissa White-Gluz, founder and former lead singer of Canadian Metalcore band The Agonist, and currently the frontwoman of Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy.

This vegan straight-edge kick-ass Québécois was born on July 31, 1985, and although she claims she has never taken any singing lessons her voice has become really powerful and versatile throughout the years, elevating her status as one of the most influential Heavy Metal female singers of the past decade, even leading to some comparisons with the one and only Angela Gossow. Well, those comparisons don’t seem to have been in vain, because on March 17, 2014, she was chosen to be the replacement for Angela herself and became the voice of Arch Enemy. In Alissa’s own words, “I am very honored and happy to announce a new chapter in my life and musical career beginning now; I have joined forces with one of my all-time favorite and globally respected bands, ARCH ENEMY. ‘Wages of Sin’ was the first metal album I ever bought, and it was love at first listen. It is not often that you get a phone call from your favorite band asking you to join! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such amazingly talented musicians whom I also consider great friends. I look forward to being able to write and perform at a whole new level now with ARCH ENEMY! Music is forever, metal is limitless and this is only the beginning!”

Arch Enemy have recently released their first album with Alissa on vocals, entitled War Eternal, but there was a lot more of our Heavy Metal diva prior to that. She founded The Agonist back in 2004 with guitarist Danny Marino and bassist Chris Kells (when the band was still known as The Tempest), and recorded three excellent full-length albums and one EP with them: Once Only Imagined (2007), Lullabies for the Dormant Mind (2009), The Escape EP (2011), and Prisoners (2012), with Lullabies for the Dormant Mind being in my opinion their best album in terms of musicality, lyrics and creativity. In regards to Alissa’s performance in all The Agonist albums, she was always so electrifying and full of energy that it’s impossible to not get completely mesmerized by her voice and moves, as you can easily see in their official videos for Thank You, Pain, …And Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep, and Panophobia. By the way, I consider the video for Thank You, Pain, with its outstanding production, good storyline and, of course, Alissa kickin’ ass, one of the most professional and beautiful videos I’ve seen in a long time.

Besides her work with The Agonist, Alissa has also been featured as a guest musician in the following albums: Canadian Folk/Melodic Death Metal band Blackguard’s Profugus Mortis,  Canadian Melodic Black/Death Metal band Erimha’s Irkalla, Canadian Industrial Death Metal band Synastry’s Blind Eyes Bleed, American Melodic Power Metal band Kamelot’s Silverthorn and also in the single Sacrimony (which the amazing official video can be seen here), and more recently in Dutch Symphonic Metal band Delain’s The Human Contradiction. She was also a live guest singer during Kamelot’s recent 2011/2012 tours, as well as, along with Swedish singer Elize Ryd (Amaranth), replaced Anette Olzon while she was sick for a one-time Nightwish concert in Denver on September 28, 2012. An interview with both artists talking about that experience can be seen here and on Nightwish’s Showtime, Storytime (DVD), on the documentary footage section.

Also, in 2006 Alissa appeared on Canadian Idol singing a cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and in January 2012 she was featured as a coach on an episode of MTV’s Made. I don’t know if these can be considered part of her music career, as those TV shows are useless and do not bring any real benefits to real musicians, but anyway she was there and it was an alternative way for her to be exposed to different audiences that are not really into Heavy Metal.

While Alissa was with The Agonist, she toured the world with many different famous bands such as Epica, Kamelot, Sonata Arctica and Danzig, which is very demanding and time consuming, and now with Arch Enemy the frequency and intensity of world tours have just increased, making her eating habits and exercising more than essential for a professional and powerful onstage performance. That’s one of the reasons why she maintains a strong exercise routine, working out between 5 and 6 times a week, especially to strengthen her muscles. Alissa mentioned she loves working out, which is in her opinion the best remedy for anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues etc., and it’s one of the things that make her feel a happier and healthier person. I agree with her 100%, as I also love working out and feel the same results as she does, and also because The Agonist and Arch Enemy are always in my workout playlist.

Another important part of her life is her veganism, which according to Alissa herself is her most powerful source of energy and health. Although she was a vegetarian all her life, she decided to become a vegan when she was a teenager and carry that flag forever more, always mentioning that her family has been a huge inspiration for her. “My parents, along with my brother and sister, are vegetarians. I wasn’t raised in any way where I was forced to be a vegetarian too. I always had the choice. My mom would say, ‘I don’t eat the stuff, so I won’t cook it, but if you want to eat it, you can. Let me tell you why I don’t eat it.’ So she was open about it.”, she said. “From a young age, I learned what a non-vegetarian diet entails. I made the decision early on that I was going to stick to the lifestyle. It’s easier to stick with something like that than change it, if you’ve always done it. I’m grateful that my parents were open-minded with me.”

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In regards to her personal life, Alissa has mentioned during some interviews that among her favorite bands and musicians are Devin Townsend, Gwen Stefani, Muse, and, of course, Arch Enemy. Hence, it’s always interesting to see non-Metal bands or artists among the playlists of Heavy Metal icons (see other examples here and here), which makes us feel less “guilty” when singing any songs that are currently part of the top 40 list. Among her favorite places she has already traveled to, we have Japan, Peru and Austria, and in terms of movies she said her favorite one is still The Little Mermaid, which is by the way the reason why she started singing. I just don’t remember Ariel or Sebastian doing any guttural during the movie, but that’s just a minor detail, right? Moreover, our Heavy Metal goddess has been selected multiple times as one of “the hottest chicks in metal” by Revolver Magazine. Why am I not surprised at all with that?

Last but not least, Alissa is not only an animal lover (I believe she has two rescued kitties at home), but beyond that she’s an important animal rights activist just as her idol Angela Gossow, having already received an award from peta2 for her work in an international campaign advocating against the hunting of Canadian seals. Honestly, that’s for me her biggest achievement in life, even more important than her contribution to heavy music, and something she’s probably very proud of.

She mentioned in some interviews that she’s been active with a lot of different organizations helping kids, third world countries and animals, but that her true passion is in animal rights. She also said she started doing fundraising for peta2 and WWF when she was still in high school, and that the partnership between peta2 and her started when they used some stock footage in The Agonist’s first music video, Business Suits and Combat Boots. Since then the organization and Alissa have been working together to promote veganism and fight against animal cruelty as much as possible through different campaigns, protests, lectures, and many other activities. So don’t waste your time, go support peta2, get involved, do something good for this fuckin’ world, and you might end up meeting Alissa somewhere, an amazing person and one of the best frontwoman of the recent history of Heavy Metal. How about that?

Alissa White-Gluz’s Official Facebook page
Alissa White-Gluz’s Official Twitter

““The biggest thing for me is animal rights. That’s the number one factor that sort of means everything in my life, more than music or anything else. I think it’s a huge problem, and I think it’s refreshing to meet people, now and then, that actually do care about their impact on the planet, and not just care about themselves.” – Alissa White-Gluz

Album Review – Arch Enemy / War Eternal (2014)

More melodic than ever, less brutal than usual: this is the new album from one of the most important Swedish bands of all time. But isn’t their music getting too melodic to the point it fails to deliver?

Rating5

CoverWhen Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy released a statement earlier this year about the unparalleled and irreplaceable diva Angela Gossow stepping down as the lead singer of the band to become their business manager, I must say I was truly shocked, not to mention I felt really worried about the future of one of my favorite bands from the past decade. However, when they announced the also amazing Alissa White-Gluz (from Canadian Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore band The Agonist) as her replacement, I knew the band was going to be in very good hands, which is proven by the good War Eternal, their ninth studio album and, more important than that, the beginning of a new phase in their extensive history.

Another very significant change in the band was the departure (for the second time) of Michael’s brother, the superb guitarist Chris Amott, replaced by American guitarist Nick Cordle in 2012, because although Nick has been with the band for two years now, this is his first studio album with them. I’m a huge fan of the Amott brothers playing together, and again I was a worried about the final result in War Eternal. Guess what? Once again I was “happily wrong”, as Mr. Cordle showcases an excellent performance throughout the whole album. So this means there’s nothing wrong in War Eternal? Well, let’s say the album is far from being a failure, but it has lots of highs and lows which you’ll be able to notice as soon as you take your first listen to it.

War Eternal kicks off with the interesting intro Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor), which is the Latin for “Time Heals Nothing”, before the band strikes the listener with the reverberating havoc named Never Forgive, Never Forget. This song is way better than I expected, especially after listening to the singles released earlier this year: this is the true Melodic Death Metal we learned to love from Arch Enemy, with the always bestial riffs and solos from Mr. Michael Amott and a totally inspired Daniel Erlandsson pounding his drums. On the other hand, War Eternal shows us a more contemporary Arch Enemy, which means less brutal and more melodic than ever. Moreover, the lyrics and chorus are annoyingly cheesy (“Try to tell you what to do / They love to have control of you / Back against the wall / In danger of losing it all / Search deep inside / Remember who you are”), which is kind of the same issue found in Khaos Legions, but thanks to its traditional riffs and Alissa’s excellent performance the song is not a complete disaster.

The following track, As the Pages Burn, is the Arch Enemy most fans want for sure: it is A LOT better than “War Eternal” in terms of rhythm, lyrics and creativity, with highlights to the beautiful solos by Michael and Nick at the end; while No More Regrets is the perfect example of how Michael Amott masters the art of starting songs with quick and efficient guitar solos, and by here you’ll be able to notice Alissa won’t use her clean vocals in Arch Enemy, at least not in this album, which in my opinion is completely understandable, expected and correct. Although I’m also a fan of The Agonist, simply remember the band here is and will always be Arch Enemy.

Then we have the biggest disappointment of the entire album, the unbearable You Will Know My Name, a song that cannot be considered Arch Enemy, but a totally disposable track that sounds like a rip-off of “No Gods, No Masters” with less intensity and horrible lyrics. Fortunately, after a traditional instrumental bridge called Graveyard of Dreams, the band gets back on track with the good Stolen Life, a song that reminds me of the musicality from their last two albums, especially its heavy groove, and the even better Time Is Black, with an excellent start, lots of shredding and some keyboard parts, sounding like some of their songs from Doomsday Machine.

arch enemyThe last part of the album is a music rollercoaster that starts with On and On, which despite its very cohesive sonority, lacks a lot of creativity and ends up falling flat; Avalanche, a good song with more keyboards and quick but awesome guitar solos, which should sound a lot better if played live; and the excellent Down to Nothing, where Daniel Erlandsson is kickin’ fuckin’ ass one more time. In addition, the bad chorus prevents it from being really awesome, but it’s one of the best songs of the album anyway (especially the guitar solos). Michael & Co. still have time for the instrumental Not Long for This World, a very traditional way to end an Arch Enemy album.

One might ask why I gave it only a 3.0 if I said so many good things about the album. Well, there are two main issues for me in War Eternal, which I do not expect everyone to agree 100% but at least acknowledge them: first of all, the lyrical themes are too cheesy and shallow again. Where’s all that obscurity and violence from their old records? And secondly, although some of the songs sound very strong, there isn’t a single one with that “wow factor” found in masterpieces such as “Enemy Within”, “Nemesis”, “Diva Satanica” or “I Am Legend/Out for Blood”. It’s not Alissa’s or Nick’s fault, though, it’s the lack of brutality that bothers me in War Eternal, not to mention the fact that the whole album seems to have been done a lot faster than it should, which probably hampered more in-depth and complex compositions.

Not only that, it looks like the main goal with their two official videos so far has been to literally showcase Alissa’s physical attributes to the fans instead of focusing on the music, as they were by far the worst songs of the whole album. Alissa is extremely hot, but I’m pretty sure all Arch Enemy fans prefer a more rampant musicality than fancy music videos. At least the excellent artwork for the album, created by Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu, lives up to Arch Enemy’s legacy.

To sum up, War Eternal is good, but not memorable, and I don’t believe that’s because Alissa is new to the band: she’s a superb singer and performer, and Arch Enemy couldn’t have found a better person to replace Angela. As I said a couple of times in this same review, it’s the extremely melodic (and sometimes too commercial) path the band has chosen to take that concerns me. For instance, I personally consider Johan Liiva just an average vocalist, but the music Arch Enemy used to play with him was so much more intense that lots of fans still miss him nowadays, even after the outstanding work done by Angela. I’ll keep loving Arch Enemy and headbanging to their music as always, but unfortunately most of the songs from War Eternal won’t be missed on my personal playlist in a couple of months.

Best moments of the album: Never Forgive, Never Forget, As the Pages Burn and Down to Nothing.

Worst moments of the album: War Eternal, You Will Know My Name and On and On.

Released in 2014 Century Media

Track listing
1. Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor) 1:12
2. Never Forgive, Never Forget 3:43
3. War Eternal 4:16
4. As the Pages Burn 4:01
5. No More Regrets 4:05
6. You Will Know My Name 4:37
7. Graveyard of Dreams (Instrumental) 1:10
8. Stolen Life 2:58
9. Time Is Black 5:23
10. On and On 4:04
11. Avalanche 4:38
12. Down to Nothing 3:47
13. Not Long for This World (Instrumental) 3:29

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars
Nick Cordle – lead guitars
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

Album Review – Delain / The Human Contradiction (2014)

Very symphonic, professional and pleasant. That’s the new album from Delain.

Rating4

coverIf the only Heavy Metal band you know from the Netherlands is Within Temptation, and especially if you are a fan of their work, you have to listen to the new album by Dutch Symphonic Metal band Delain, named The Human Contradiction. The band was formed in 2002 by former Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt, which explains all the similarities between his current and his former bands, and the gorgeous redhead singer Charlotte Wessels, another good example of how talent and beauty always walk hand in hand in the Netherlands.

Delain might not be that new, but it seems that the quality of their music and overall production has achieved a higher level with The Human Contradiction, with all instruments sounding pretty clear and Charlotte’s voice being very polished and strong. Moreover, if the band has already toured so many different countries with their previous records, I believe this time their music will take them to even further places, which is something they deserve due to all their hard work to produce high quality heavy music.

Talking about each track of the album, we have an excellent beginning with Here Come The Vultures, a 6-minute song (which is a bold move to open an album nowadays, as the attention span of people doesn’t seem to go over 3 minutes) with a beautiful intro by Charlotte Wessels and dark and heavy riffs that work pretty well to warm us up for the rest of the album; and Your Body Is A Battleground, the first track to feature Finnish bassist Marco Hietala (Nightwish), who does a great duet with Charlotte and makes me wonder how good this song will sound live if he joins the band for a few concerts. The lyrics to this song are also an interesting and effective part of it (“Any disorder? / No restriction / Too hard to handle? / No hesitation / For your protection / Just an injection / We’ll write you a letter / The younger, the better”), making the overall result even better.

delainStardust showcases a good duo of drums and keyboards and has an excellent chorus, while My Masquerade, despite its more commercial approach (especially the chorus), is another good song from the album. Then come Tell Me, Mechanist, featuring Dutch musician George Oosthoek (Celestial Season, ex-Orphanage) doing guttural vocals in another great duet with Charlotte; and Sing To Me, another good song with Marco as a guest musician, although not as powerful as the first one.

The last songs of the regular version of the album are Army Of Dolls, an average song with its “80’s dance music” intro, which might sound better live; the beautiful Lullaby, a more gothic track with dense riffs, atmospheric keyboards, and Charlotte kickin’ ass on vocals one more time; and The Tragedy Of The Commons, featuring Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy, ex-The Agonist), a very symphonic track where Alissa’s characteristic guttural vocals add a lot of energy to it.

Although the regular album is relatively short, if you purchase the special edition you’ll put your hands on a lot of excellent extra material, including songs like the beautiful ballad Scarlet, excellent live versions for some of the bands old songs and even of the new My Masquerade, which sounds a lot more powerful live, and unique orchestral versions for two of their new songs. It’s surely the wisest choice if you’re a fan of Delain’s music, or even if you’re just starting to know the band better.

To sum up, The Human Contradiction is a very consistent and pleasant album, perfect for fans of Symphonic Metal with female vocals. And if the band is performing live in your town this year, don’t miss the chance to check them. It’s an awesome choice for taking your boyfriend or girlfriend and enjoying together some good heavy music from a non-arena band, which is something we really need to support nowadays.

Best moments of the album: Here Come The Vultures, Your Body Is A Battleground and Lullaby.

Worst moments of the album: Sing To Me and Army Of Dolls.

Released in 2014 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Here Come The Vultures 6:05
2. Your Body Is A Battleground (feat. Marco Hietala) 3:49
3. Stardust 3:56
4. My Masquerade 3:43
5. Tell Me, Mechanist (feat. George Oosthoek) 4:51
6. Sing To Me (feat. Marco Hietala) 5:08
7. Army Of Dolls 4:55
8. Lullaby 4:54
9. The Tragedy Of The Commons (feat. Alissa White-Gluz) 4:30

Special Edition bonus tracks
10. Scarlet 4:36
11. Don’t Let Go 3:56
12. My Masquerade (Live) 5:02
13. April Rain (Live) 4:45
14. Go Away (Live) 3:42
15. Sever (Live) 4:54
16. Stay Forever (Live) 4:31
17. Sing To Me (Orchestral Version) 3:41
18. Your Body Is A Battleground (Orchestral Version) 3:20

Band members
Charlotte Wessels – vocals
Martijn Westerholt – keyboards
Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije – bass
Sander Zoer – drums
Timo Somers – guitar

Guest musicians
Marco Hietala – clean male vocals
George Oosthoek – death growls
Alissa White-Gluz – clean female vocals & death growls