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Behemoth and Arch Enemy Unleash Hell at Manchester O2 Apollo [Photos]

Behemoth and Arch Enemy brought a night of pure metal to the O2 Apollo in Manchester with support from Carcass and Unto Others.



It feels like it has been a long time since metal fans have seen a weekend like this, and what a weekend Manchester had lined up. In twenty-four hours, Aussie metal titans Parkway Drive were due to roll into town for the latest date on their European jaunt with While She Sleeps and Lorna Shore. However, first up, the devil-summoning “The European Siege 2022” package raised hell at the O2 Apollo, headlined by controversial Polish death/black metal heavyweights Behemoth.

Arriving at the Apollo just ahead of openers Unto Others taking to the stage, a queue snaked up the stairs as fans wait to grab something from the impressive array of merch on offer from both Behemoth and touring partners Arch Enemy.

Inside the venue and there was a healthy crowd building up as the Portland band took to the stage under moody blue lights. Offering the bill something slightly less brutal, the band (formerly Idle Hands) powered through an atmospheric set of gothic-tinged metal as the likes of “Heroin,” “Give Me To The Night,” and “When Will God’s Work Be Done” kicked off the night in a gloriously traditional manner.

Hailing from Liverpool, about thirty miles down the M62, goregrind legends Carcass were next to take to the stage and, as usual, without fanfare, set about their business. Hurtling through a blood-drenched mix of new and old tracks, the band slammed through the bludgeoning renditions of “Kelly’s Meat Emporium” and “Incarnated Solvent Abuse.”

Having heard frontman Jeff Walker address the crowd by stating, “we’re not gonna waste any time…,” this was clearly a man of his word. Backed by attention-grabbing visuals flashing across the wealth of video screens, the band’s melody-tinged metal had necks snapping in the front rows as “Corporal Jigsore Quandry” and “Heartwork” brought their set to a foul conclusion.

As powerhouse vocalist Alissa White-Gluz recalled, it had been quite some time since melodic death metal favourites Arch Enemy last played on a stage in Manchester, and they certainly made up for it. “This is fucking waaaaaar!” came the familiar cry before a bank of flames lit up the theatre, and the band hurtled into “War Eternal.” As with Carcass before them, the group mixed up their set with old classics and new tracks from their new album Deceivers with the likes of “The Eagle Flies Alone” and “Handshake with Hell,” just two highlights from the album, which made the set.

However, for long-time fans of the band, and looking around the Apollo, they were out in force; it was the wealth of classics that made the Swedes set truly special. “My Apocalypse” literally levelled the venue, while “As The Pages Burn” was equally as devastating, with the band wrapping up the set with a raging “Nemesis.” Another utterly flawless display from Arch Enemy, the band took to the stage in front of a curtain of “Pure Fucking Metal” and, leaving with a scene of complete wreckage behind them, you could say they had lived up to that statement.

Just over seven weeks ago, in front of fifteen thousand metalheads at Bloodstock Open Air, Polish extreme metal titans Behemoth delivered a legendary headline set. Cramming as much of that production onto stages half the size, Behemoth brought hell to Manchester and, screaming along to every word, the Behemoth faithful lapped up every minute of the set.

Led from the front by the iconic Nergal, the Polish band thundered through “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” and a pyro-drenched rendition of “Ov Fire and the Void” as security worked overtime to stop crowdsurfers heading towards the fiery scene behind them. Utterly hypnotizing to watch, frontman Nergal strides out in full headgear and, behind his ceremonial mic stand, has literally every person in the venue under his spell.

Supporting new album Opvs Contra Natvram, the band power through “Thy Becoming Eternal” and “Off To War!” while older cuts like the pairing of “Daimonas” and “Bartzabel” are greeted like returning heroes by the masses gathered in the Apollo. A true spectacle to witness, the Behemoth show is something the audience becomes engulfed in as the vocalist, when not behind his mic stand, is usually found at the front of the stage, arms outstretched, whipping his worshippers into a bigger frenzy.

As the night ends with “Chant for Eschaton 2000” ringing around the theatre, you have to look back on the last four hours and wonder when the Manchester metal community will next witness a spectacle of this magnitude in a venue as reasonably intimate as the Apollo. An unforgettable night from start to finish; as the masses poured out into the night, plans were already underway for the European Siege Tour to conquer the next city on the schedule.

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.