Live Apocalypse (Century Media)
by Mike Delano
Arch Enemy is a great metal band. Too great for their own good, it seems. Nowadays, they seem a little like Megadeth in their mid-’90s heyday, when Mustaine and co. had their signature sound mastered to such pinpoint accuracy that their albums and live shows ground to a predictable bore. They were so tight live, it was like listening to the albums. Not such a bad thing, but isn’t a little spontaneity the whole reason to go to a show?
Don’t look for many surprises on Arch Enemy’s predictably professional DVD release, Live Apocalypse. It’s a generous two discs worth of concert footage, videos, and interviews, with the pristine production values and sound quality one would expect from a band that never does anything half-ass. During the main live performance, a December 2004 show in London, there literally isn’t a single note out of place. Everything sounds crystal clear and flawless. The set list sounds so tight that the band members could probably blast through it in their sleep, so don’t hold your breath for any impromptu covers or creative reworking of their back catalog. Singer Angela Gossow, while enthusiastic throughout, doesn’t offer much in the personality department beyond bland “metal!!!” declarations, or throwing the devil horns several times per song.
Like their most recent release, 2005’s polished and powerful Doomsday Machine, the live material here is more impressive than it is engaging. This is metal to be admired. This whole package is worthy of admiration, a must-buy for fans. There’s a ton of good stuff crammed in here, and the music video-like editing of the live footage is much better than the usual two-camera stuff that plays on less polished concert DVD releases. But only during the fiery live performance of “Nemesis” from a mini-concert in the UK to promote Doomsday does the band really sound like they could conquer the world. Like Trivium, Arch Enemy seem content in their state of technical ecstasy, and while their metal might not grab you by the balls like the best of them do, clinical headbanging has never been this fun.