I might as well start off by saying that I love Arch Enemy. It goes without saying I was pretty excited when they announced the release of this new live DVD. Filmed at the Wacken Open Air Festival in 2016, it would capture their headline show in its entirety. This also marks the first major live release with Alissa White-Gluz at the helm.
Arch Enemy live DVDs are always worth a look, especially as a snapshot in the band’s career. Each one usually features a slightly different lineup, and they tend to vary in quality. It’s refreshing then that As The Stages Burn! is a complete home run. I’m usually opposed to bands using festival slots to film DVDs because I generally feel it’s not a true representation of that band in the live arena. There are obviously notable exceptions to this from Iron Maiden, Slipknot and Rush who have put out stellar releases from festival performances.
As mentioned above, you can now add Arch Enemy to that esteemed list. Visually, this is a well-shot production that showcases the band and crowd in their full glory. The lighting of the stage against the night sky is extremely vibrant and provides a great contrast. In terms of the actual performance, from a production standpoint, it’s about what you would expect. Big ramps, pyro blasts and the like are all present and accounted for.
But then Arch Enemy have always been a band that has let their music do the talking. War Eternal was a big turning point for them, and the songs really come alive here. Sounding much bigger and more vicious than they do on the album, Alissa is a natural fit for Arch Enemy and this performance sums up all the reasons why. She has complete command over her audience and she sounds like something hell spat out when she screams. She totally owns any stage she is on. It seems the change in lineup has reinvigorated the band as they are also on a blistering form throughout. Proving once again why they are headlining one of metal’s most elite festivals.
The setlist blends the new and old together seamlessly and hits all the right notes. Old classics like ‘Nemesis’, ‘Dead Eyes See No Future’ and ‘Ravenous’ rub shoulders with the likes of ‘War Eternal’, ‘As The Pages Burn’ and ‘Avalanche’. It’s impressive seeing it all come together and seeing not only the growth of the band but also how well the newer songs stand alongside the older ones, ensuring that fans of all eras of the band remain happy.
As The Stages Burn! proves without a shadow of a doubt that Arch Enemy are a band that is back on top form. Even after 20 years and multiple lineup changes, the fire still burns bright. This DVD and performance will live on as a testament to their legacy and shows they still have a few more knockout albums left in them.