The sun was setting on St. Kilda beach, renowned for its trendies, bad Gen-X dramas and salubrious solicitation of transient, amateur masseuses. The mighty Palace Complex retained within its box like exterior a band of critical acclamation Arch Enemy from Gothenburg Sweden. They had finally permitted us a glimpse into their raw pure fucking metal power in a backwater that is not usually associated with blinding brilliance in terms of metal. We lined up parallel to the foreshore, the light fading as our anticipation rose.
My friends Drew (lead guitarist for local metalcore act Black Like Vengeance) and Kyle commiserated with fellow metalheads, speculating on the virtues (or detriments) of having Michael Amott as a replacement prime minister (At least his Industrial Relations policy wouldnt suck.) Finally, after a lengthy explanation by a camp yet clueless stage manager that The
Arch Enemy doesnt want anyone to smoke in the main room we were finally allowed in. The first band was Synthetic Breed, a metalcore act that, to put it plainly, was subpar in every conceivable way. Their songs were lackluster, their performance repetitive and saccharine, the sound sub-audible. Next up were highly respected tech death metal act Five Star Prison Cell. Their energetic performance was derided by a majority of the crowd (You suck!
Support Aussie metal, the lead singer would reply) but was admired by Drew and myself. The Lister-style (from British comedy series Red Dwarf) dreadlocked singer tended toward a Mike Patton style of vocal delivery, and as for the instrumentalists
they tried to emulate him all too scarily as well. Nonetheless, the crowd was sullen for the thirty minutes before Arch Enemy burst onto the stage in a cacophony of lights, metal and brute force.
The crowd started to wave and thrash to the strains of Nemesis, from their new album. Michael Amott strode about regally as did Sharlee DAngelo, pounding every note emphatically. Angela stared intently at the crowd. How are you Melbourne? she exclaimed. Horns saluted her majesty. We are very fucking happy to be here
Australia is a country that appreciates PURE FUCKING METAL! Naturally, the crowds reaction was accepting to say the least. They thundered through a bracket of their newest material, continuing with the brilliantly lit Dead Eyes See No Future, Burning Angel, I Am Legend/Out For Blood, Taking Back My Soul and the eerie My Apocalypse before a fantastic ten-minute drum solo from Daniel Erlandsson. He ostinatoes like no other.
Marching back onto stage was a double attack from Amott (and the surrogate Amott brother) with scrunched up "guitar god" faces a plenty being pulled throughout the wanktastic instrumental, Hybrids of Steel. Angela astutely "covered" a Johan Liiva era classic, Dead Inside and continued to slay into Ravenous. Departing only to return momentarily to cries of "More!" they thrashed out Enemy Within, Mechanic God Creation and ended whimsically on We Will Rise. The crowd's arms and throats fatigued, we departed on a metallic high from the sweaty arena. We concluded that we had witnessed a once in a lifetime show. The image would remain within us forever.