Arch Enemy & Suffocation – Capitol (Perth), 1/11/2009

The Arch Enemy-Suffocation Australian tour kicks off in Perth. This much great metal? We’re not worthy.

Perth on a Sunday night: should I be surprised that both car parks close to Club Capitol were inexplicably closed? Judging by the number of cars filled with black-clad folks circling the city’s main drag, plenty were. And that’s my excuse for missing opening act Claim The Throne – although as I’ve never seen the Viking-inspired locals put on a bad show, I can be confident that they put in a sterling effort entertaining the crowd.

Suffocation’s set had just got underway when we entered the venue at around 9pm, consisting of tracks spanning the New York outfit’s 20 year career interspersed with what can perhaps be described as “essays on various topics” by singer Frank Mullen – although a certain individual was later overhead referring to these as “Frank dribbling shit”. Stockpiling ammunition for the coming apocalypse, his liking for Australian Bundaberg rum, the possibility of alien life, dispensing with intruders and taking care of the body were just some of the themes touched on by the talkative frontman in between songs.

Having such a large back catalogue, the band elected to include a variety of material from their six studio albums. Cataclysmic Purification and Come Hell or High Priest from 2009’s acclaimed release Blood Oath, Brood of Hatred from Pierced From Within, Liege of Inveracity (a song Mullen claimed to have played “at least a million times”) and pit-pleaser Infecting the Crypts from debut Effigy of the Forgotten, Bind Torture Kill from 2007’s self-titled effort – the list went on. The crowd, a significant number of whom were clad in Suffocation t-shirts, were very much into the set, which from an audio point of view was notably loud but quite well balanced, and the band no doubt left with quite a few more fans than they started with. 

The venue was very full by the time Arch Enemy made it to the stage, drummer Daniel Erlandsson, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo and axe-wielding brothers Michael and Christopher Amott joined by diminutive frontwoman Angela Gossow as some familiar tracks kicked off the set. Blood On Your Hands, the opening track from 2007’s Rise of the Tyrant (an album for which the band never did a headlining Australian tour), was followed in quick succession by Ravenous from Wages of Sin and Taking Back My Soul from Doomsday Machine – before The Immortal, the first of the pre-Gossow tracks re-recorded for latest release The Root of All Evil.

Although perhaps amplified by my forward but side-stage position, the sound quality for the headline act seemed uncharacteristically worse than it had been for Suffocation – guitars generally sounding quite muddy in the lower registers – although thankfully the soaring leads from the brothers Amott did cut through the mix most of the time. And of course, Gossow’s massive growl took absolutely no prisoners.

Dead Eyes See No Future and My Apocalypse kept the crowd moving with well-known tracks, then the newly re-imagined favourite Diva Satanica – dedicated to all Gossow’s “sisters in the moshpit” – kept momentum going right through Revolution Begins. A drum solo was included, as well as solo spots for both guitarists – an usual move these days, but I guess if you have that amount of great talent in one band, why not show it off a little?

We Will Rise finished the set, but of course an encore was in order. Both guitarists had another solo spot, this time with drum accompaniment, before Gossow returned to the stage for Nemesis. An instrumental track finished the show off for good.

Arch Enemy are a band who just know how to do things right – professional to the core at the same time as brutal as all fuck, and incredibly talented musicians to boot. A headline Australian tour to remind fans here just how fucking awesome they are has been well overdue. Perth, consider your arses kicked.