The mastodons of the Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy have just released their latest album "Will to Power" (for our review go here). The touring machine as they are, that of course is followed by an extensive tour to promote this. During the first chapter of what looks to be a massive undertaking they went to Greece and Eastern Europe. But they also were making a stop at The Circus in Helsinki, Finland. Of course we had to be there to check out how their new songs fit in with the rest of their performance. With them they brought Jinjer, who had an impressive release in 2016 (for our review go here), which seems like a huge opportunity to gather a much bigger fan base than they already have...
When I got to the venue, there was already a huge line in front of the building. Apparently a lot of people were eager to get in early and already check the first band: the Ukrainian Jinjer (****). They've been looking to take over the world with their blend of melodic death metal, hardcore and metalcore with a heavy touch of a progressive or even djent sound. And they definitely didn't lack in energy and gusto to take the hearts of the people in the crowd who didn't know them yet. The music sounds as good, heavy and complex as it did on the album and almost even better.
With Jinjer a group of musicians has gathered that is brimming with talent. Throw on top of that the charismatic vocalist Tatjana dressed in all whites as the focal point and you get a damn great show. After kicking off with one of their older tracks Who's Gonna Be the One, they roll into a set of 5 tracks with some of my most favorite ones of their 2016 album King of Everything. With Words of Wisdom they bring the one song that (in their own words) is everything Jinjer stands for. Musically it has a bit of everything going for it: progressive/djent guitar and bass lines, a relentless drum and Tatjana who both screams her lunges out in a very hardcore/death metal way and brings some lovely clean vocals. Sit Stay Roll Over kicks up the energy to an even higher place due to its pure viciousness of this very hardcore track.
During these 3 songs I get to feel the energy that the whole band and specifically Tatjana send out into the room from up close in the photo pit and it's a sight to behold. She ran around, jumped high in the air like you see so often at hardcore punk shows, banged her head like there's no tomorrow, went down on her knees for added drama and even danced to the groove of their own music in a way that just dragged you into the whole spectacle.
After the very energetic opening set of 3 songs, they started the next trio with my absolute favorite song of their latest album and actually the band overall: I Speak Astronomy. In the talk I had with Tatjana and the bassist Eugene they told me that they're so damn proud of this song and that they're basically singing about love while capturing some of the magic of the universe. Jinjer managed to capture that exact epic and magic atmosphere of the song live just perfectly, proving yet again what a top notch act they really are.
For me personally the strongest part of the set ended with the tracks Just Another and Pisces. With the first, they showed again their ability to blend hardcore and death metal elements flawlessly with an almost catchy melody. And the latter with the jazzy/funky soft and fragile clean singing from Tatiana that, on regular occasions, erupts into a beastly growling which showcased her immense vocal capabilities. The rest of the set kept being energetic and high quality but nothing stuck in my head as much except for hearing them play a recording of the very jazzy outro Beggar’s Dance. But by then they had completely convinced the people present and the level of energy was high in the room. A great show from a very promising band!
Who's Gonna Be the One
Words of Wisdom
Sit Stay Roll Over
I Speak Astronomy
No Hoard of Value
Beggars' Dance (outro)
When the time grew near for main act Arch Enemy (****) to start, the venue started to feel overly crowded and the anticipation was almost tangible. After wrestling myself to the front to get in the photo pit, the lights went out and the first tunes of Thunderstruck by AC/DC got launched at us with some nice lighting to get the crowd go bonkers even before anyone got on the stage. Once the Swedish powerhouse mounted the stage, the room simply exploded.
Some of their older songs are considered classics within the (melodic death) metal scene and you can always be sure of a good show. In the mean time I don't think the touring machine they are needs any schooling in how to put down a performance to blow you away. And with the new album Will to Power under their arms, they're gearing up to rile up fans all over the world again. That's exactly what they did at The Circus. Alissa has already proven that she is the perfect follow-up for Angela and she destroyed with her high energy presence and impressive vocals which are never a letdown.
In the meantime also Jeff Loomis doesn't have to prove anymore if he fits the band or not, because it's like he never was anywhere else before. Together with "padre de familia" Michael Amott he forms the perfect metal guitar tandem firing off blistering solos and crushing riffs like their lives depend on it. The rather uninspired work we've been getting on the latest albums is the last thing on our minds when Arch Enemy takes over a stage. Every song they play, whether it's a new or old one, sounds convincing, strong and fucking heavy!
Talking about new and old songs, the setlist was in a way surprising to me. For a show in support of their latest effort I found not that many of the new tracks were being played. If you count out the instrumental intro song, War Eternal was even more represented than Will to Power. I get it that they have quite the catalogue by now, but I would've liked to hear maybe a few more than the 4 we got. I was for instance curious how Reason to Believe (the much talked about track with clean vocals from Alissa) would come across live, but I guess I'll have to wait for another time to check that out... Overall it was a very strong setlist with many of the classics from the Angela period like Ravenous, Nemesis and my absolute favorite We Will Rise and the most memorable and crushing tracks from the albums with Alissa.
A cool little sidenote was that someone was shooting footage throughout the whole gig that is to be used in the upcoming music video for The Race. When Alissa called this to the attention of the crowd, the already frantic mass of people simply went bonkers for the remaining time creating one moshpit and circlepit after the other. Simply a solid show by a band that is a phenomenon in the metal scene, Alissa shouted out that they should come to Finland more and we'd be happy to welcome them here!
Thunderstruck (AC/DC, intro)
Set Flame to the Night
The World Is Yours
Blood in the Water
You Will Know My Name
The Eagle Flies Alone
As the Pages Burn
No Gods, No Masters
Dead Bury Their Dead
We Will Rise
Fields of Desolation
Enter the Machine (outro)