The Masters of Khaos

PULP Live World Presents: ARCH ENEMY DECEIVERS ASIA TOUR Live in Manila
MAY 15, 2024  |  SM North EDSA Skydome

 

By Joey Dizon

 

You can’t fuck with consistency.

 

Though it’s been a decade since their last performance in Manila, and though there have been key member changes, a nasty worldwide pandemic, and a continually evolving music landscape that added to the chaos, melodic death metal masters ARCH ENEMY proved once again that theirs is an outfit that seemingly thrives—and obliterates—whatever stands in their way, via consistently exceptional releases and wonderfully energetic live performances.

 

Which is precisely why the PH was fortunate enough that the band—guitarists Michael Amott and Joey Concepcion, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo, drummer Daniel Erlandsson, and vocalist Alissa White-Gluz—included Manila in its path of destruction, leaving true metalheads in awe of their ability to still deliver the goods. Simply dubbed the Deceivers Asia Tour 2024, the show was exciting for local Filipino metalheads, being the first of its nature after the recent demise of the PULP Summer Slam. For the band, it was indeed special since it was the first time White-Gluz would be performing in the Philippines.

 

And as soon as the venue’s house lights were shut off, the modest crowd in attendance did their best to offer their loudest cheers and screams, as the band wasted no time in delivering a total assault on the senses: “Deceiver Deceiver,” “The World Is Yours” and “Ravenous” proved to be the perfect opening salvo, with Erlandsson’s non-stop double bass attack fueling the carnage, as White-Gluz commanded the stage with signature metal poses, kicks in the air, and leaps from the riser. The title track from 2014’s War Eternal came smashing through, as Amott and Concepcion traded signature styles on guitar, the former being a treasure trove of melodic and catchy lines, the latter bringing a hundred and ten percent shred-approved skill. It was actually awesome to realize that even casual listeners could tell who was ripping it on the ol’ ax.

 

The sound was great, of course, but especially impressive was the display of lights that set the mood to both the blistering songs (“War Eternal,” “My Apocalypse,” “Handshake With Hell”) and the rare moments of calm in between live favorites. The Philippine crowd was also treated to songs that were not part of the setlist of the band’s previous China date, specifically “Sunset Over the Empire” and “No Gods, No Masters,” so I guess one can safely say that the PH stop was unique, or “personalized” even.

 

Dishing out a total of 19 songs, with very minimal banter—save for Alissa’s constant and effective prodding for the crowd to jump up and shout along to the songs—it seemed like Arch Enemy’s set was constantly peaking with every song: the legendary Amott not running out of soaring melodic lines, Concepcion delivering consistently tasteful bursts of pure, unadulterated shred, D’Angelo tightly holding down the bottom end, and Erlandsson relentlessly driving everything forward and gluing all of it together.

 

It also helped that the venue was a proper one—a balanced sonic output (which was admittedly hard to achieve at the Skydome in the past years), a nice look and overall secure vibe, AND free-flowing drinks, featuring double shots of Grey Goose vodka among other treats to help kick the overall experience into overdrive.

 

Ending with an encore of “Snowbound,” and the anthemic “Nemesis”—wherein the 300-plus-strong crowd chanted “All For One, one for all—we are strong!” as loud as they could while all the members of the band squeezed out every last bit of energy onstage, the evening was truly one for the books. And as the final notes of the instrumental finale “Fields” rang out like a musical score to some amazing flick, the band took a final bow and hurled picks, sticks, and various memorabilia to lucky fans in front.

 

While it was definitely an awesome night for both the band and fans, it was noticeable that the attendance wasn’t as big as most of us would have expected or wanted. Of course, there will always be faithful metalheads who know what supporting their favorite artists really means: buying tickets, merch, and most of all, spreading the word and the sound to younger generations of would-be fans. But I honestly felt that more fans of the genre could have shown up last night to support the band and keep the proverbial fire burning.

Hopefully, the next time around when a band as great as Arch Enemy makes it to our shores, we’d get it right. Again it was great—but I’m confident us metalheads can do better. PULP