The Troubador, Los Angeles, CA
March 5, 2002

By Overkill

What's that you say? An extremely rare appearance by Swedish deathsters Arch Enemy in America? Yeah...I'm there. The show was sold-out, so hopefully this means that the Swedes will be back soon. The line ran down the entire block and even around the corner to get in, so apparrently I was not alone in my zest to see this incredible all-star band. As I got inside, I made my way to the merchandise table and heard the Century Media staff announcing that they were down to their last few of each item. Some cool shirts, posters, and even the soon-to-be-released-in-America-although-it's-been-out-in-the-rest-of-the-world-forever Wages Of Sin.

The evening started out with Crematorium, a local LA death band that I'd caught before. These guys are really solid and put on a punishing set. Although the 5-piece band rocked that night, I've seen them put on a more focused and solid set. They were promoting their cd and played several songs off of it, but they neglected to play their very intense version of Metallica's Whiplash, a crowd-pleaser that never fails. Maybe next time.

Up next was a band I'd never heard of before. Taken started receiving boo's before they even played a note. The entire band looked like they belonged at a frat party. I had no idea what to expect from them, but it was obvious they were going to be the band that stood out like a poseur at an Exodus show. As they started up, the singer began running around the stage, often allowing drool and/or snot to run down his face as he screamed his often non-sensical vocals. The music ranged from melodic dual-guitar aural landscapes to harsh blast-beating madness. The vast disparity of musical styles made for some extremely jarring changes and as for finding standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus arrangements in Taken's work... good luck! In between songs (and sometimes during) the crowd's displeasure could be heard. Someone's comment of "I want three dollars back!" got a good laugh, but there was a good handful of metal signs and clenched fists being raised at the front of the stage.

A few times though, during Taken's set nearly everyone in the Troubadour raised their hands and began to scream. The members of Arch Enemy could occasionaly be seen surveying the American fans clamoring to see the Amott brothers and co. take the stage, and after a lengthy set-up time between bands, it was time. Opening up with the lead-off track from Wages of Sin, "Enemy Within", the band kicked off a killer set. Drummer Daniel Erlandsson was incredibly solid and stuck mainly to snare and bass drum patterns, occasionally veering off for some high-speed pyrotechnics. Bassist Sharlee D'Angelo (Mercyful Fate, Witchery) and new singer Angela Gossow stomped about the stage and worked the crowd. (Not like they had to do much... these fans were rabid at the chance to see AE live) But, the Amott brothers' presence dominated the show. Ripping through a killer set that included "Silverwing", "Dead Bury Their Dead", "Burning Angel", "The Immortal", and "Heart of Darkness", Arch Enemy proved themselves every bit as amazing live as on their four studio offerings.

After a brief intermission, Mike Amott returned to the stage alone, and after he had put his guitar back on, played the opening riff to the Carcass classic, "Corporeal Jigsore Quandry." The crowd roared its approval as the only acknowledgement of any of the members' current or former bands (At the Gates, Armageddon, Mercyful Fate, Spiritual Beggers, Carnage, and others) was to the legendary Carcass, of which Mike Amott was a member for two extraordinary albums. The band returned to the stage and performed "Beast of Man", ending a well-performed night of metal. After the show, as all of the members were signing autographs and posing for pictures, I approached Mike and shook his hand while thanking him for playing the Carcass riff and giving a nod to his former band. He was appreciative that the crowd responded so well. Thanks Mike and the rest of Arch Enemy for hitting the States and putting on an excellent show.