Arch Enemy/Exodus/Arsis/Mutiny Within @ Phoenix Concert Theater, Toronto ON, January 27, 2010

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Live review by Ola Mazzuca; Photos by Adam Wills

There is a certain magic quality about metal shows; magic in which no matter what age you are or how you dress, you can still be a part of something larger than life, like the people in Dissection shirts who thrashed out to Exodus or that girl in front of me with that gorgeous Michael Kors handbag. It doesn’t really matter. There is no difference as to who you are or where you’re from; it’s a metal show and everyone is there to get sweaty, crazy and excited.

The ticket provided a good set list of four bands, starting off with newcomers on the scene Mutiny Within from New Jersey (now known as a place of stereotypes and media frenzy caused by MTV’s Jersey Shore). As the crowds started to pile into the venue, they kept everyone busy with their Bodom-esque melodic death.

Next up: Arsis – Crowd pleasing to the maximum. There is no doubt that the technicality of their music was any short of awesome and the band’s interaction with the crowd was powerful and kept the entire venue interested, provoking a few warm-up moshpits. Playing tracks off their latest release, Starve for the Devil and some oldies here and there maintained the action. Despite the fact that the band ran into a few technical difficulties, no one complained or shouted in disgust. Cheers to all of the polite metalheads in the venue.

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Bay area thrash metal veterans Exodus successfully tore up the Phoenix in preparation for the night’s long-awaited performance by Arch Enemy. Vocalist Rob Dukes hit the stage in a sort of questionable New York Rangers hockey jersey (Dude. You’re in Toronto) where he constantly asked the crowd to wreak havoc. It was great to see and hear some variety that Exodus brought to the mix with their fist-pumping pummeling thrash, playing “Children of a Worthless God”, “War Is My Shepherd” and Bonded By Blood’s classic “Piranha”. Overall, an extremely energetic set that never ceases to make me wonder how these bands do this every night, city after city.

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As the Toronto metal scene waits anxiously for the band of the evening, I reminisce about my very first musical encounter with Arch Enemy. It’s a memory I’ll never forget, as they were one of the more extreme bands I discovered, upon watching MuchLoud on a Saturday night, where the program played “We Will Rise”. It put my age into perspective, as I remembered myself as a young girl of 13 years looking for something obscure and extraordinary for my ears and soul. I remember watching the music video for the track mentioned prior wondering, “how the hell does that chick sing like that?”

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It’s really empowering just watching Angela control the entire crowd. People love this woman! They respect her for what she has brought to the metal scene, and possibly the cohesion and equality she has instigated.

With a hypnotic instrumental intro plunging directly into “The Root Of All Evil” positive chaos ensues. Angela kept a constant physical and emotional connection with the audience as AE played favourite tracks off of Doomsday Machine (“My Apocalypse”, “Taking Back My Soul”) and their second latest studio effort Rise of the Tyrant (“Revolution Begins”, “I Will Live Again”, “Blood On Your Hands”). Oldies from Black Earth, Wages of Sin and Anthems of Rebellion made a strong impression on those who have been following the band since their humble beginning.

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With a number of instrumental interludes provided by Mike and Chris Amott, and a wicked drum solo by Daniel Erlandsson, lighters filled the air as my favourite “Intermezzo Liberte” flowed through the venue. Those Swedes should know that just a “Thank you! Goodnight!” is not enough for us Torontonians to close a show. Arch Enemy played a satisfying encore featuring their arguably most definitive track “Nemesis” and “Fields of Desolation”.

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After waiting years to see one of my favourite bands that got me into this metal from the beginning, it was a great to finally have a chance to witness the raw emotion and power derived from Arch Enemy. Their music has carried me through numerous ruts and I wonder what I would have been like today had I not discovered metal, or “We Will Rise” for that matter. Witnessing the impact they have had on others not only makes me happy, but must make them incredibly thrilled to know that moshing violently, headbanging to a beat, and chanting every song lyric relieves us from the bullshit we face everyday.

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Angela mentioned that she wants us to stay “pure fucking metal” for the next time they hit the T-Dot, and I am positive that when they return, we will most definitely be; however stronger, wiser and ready to take on anything, with a little help from Arch Enemy along the way.

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All live photos are the property of Adam Wills and Hellbound.ca. Written permission from both parties is necessary before reprinting these photos elsewhere

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.