Across Arch Enemy’s storied career, the international outfit are no strangers to live products, like 1999’s awesome Burning Japan Live 1999, 2006’s celebrated Live Apocalypse DVD, 2008’s heralded Tyrants of the Rising Sun: Live in Japan, 2012’s limited, Japanese-only Astro Khaos 2012 - Official Live Bootleg, and 2016’s insanely good War Eternal Tour: Tokyo Sacrifice Blu-ray. While all five on-stage representations of Arch Enemy have gone a long way in bridging fans and their favorite melodic death metal act, nothing compares to what As the Stages Burn! has in store for the band’s legion of followers. In fact, no show in Japan—where Arch Enemy are veritable metal gods—or any country for that matter stacks up to the group’s 2016 Wacken Open Air performance, where Arch Enemy unveiled their largest live show to date.
“This project took about six months of planning, building the stage set, and designing the artwork elements,” reveals founding member/guitarist Mike Amott. “A lot of team work, brainstorming, and money went into this project. The biggest challenge really was to find the right artists, craftsmen, and crew members to realize such a vision. It was all put together by our management and the good people at [stage production company] All Your Band Needs. Our light designer Martin Müller and production/tour manager Andre Dellamanha developed a stage concept that would actually hold up in reality and fit on that Wacken stage.”
The band tapped Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu (At the Gates, Paradise Lost), of Twilight 13 Media, to design the textile stage props. Having worked with Chioreanu before on the chart-busting War Eternal, the members of Arch Enemy were comfortable that he’d deliver on the vision. After all the on-stage props were built—a project that took 12 weeks, according to Amott—they were transferred via two trucks on the day of the show. Once at Wacken, a team of 15 unloaded and assembled Arch Enemy’s mega-band stage set-up.
“We’ve had some fairly elaborate stage set-ups in the past,” Amott admits. “But nothing this big. We just spent two years on the road or more, and, yeah, we just wanna put it out there kind of as a document of this time. And the show at Wacken was really special as well. It’s a huge thrill to be a part of a bigger show and really give the fans a spectacle to enjoy!”
While the members of Arch Enemy admit to feeling slightly more pressure due to the two different film crews on location, that didn’t stop them from putting on a killer 16-song set, replete with band and fan favorites like “My Apocalypse”, “Ravenous”, “Dead Eyes See No Future” and “We Will Rise”. Turns out, the set-list—likely one of the strongest in Arch Enemy’s two decades of performing live—was organized and sequenced by long-time bassist Sharlee D’Angelo.
“I put him in charge of the set-lists years ago and took myself out of it,” says Amott. “Personally, I’m up for playing anything, as I pretty much wrote ‘em all! Sharlee does a great job of making sure we keep changing things up and it keeps it exciting for us and the fans. Obviously, in a festival situation you always tend to play it safe with more of the famous songs, but I guess we wanted to have some newer songs on the concert film, too.”
As The Stages Burn! will be more than the hour-long show. Amott says there will be promotional videos, unreleased clips, as well as a selection of rare songs from the War Eternal Tour: Tokyo Sacrifice Blu-ray. But that’s not all. Diehard fans can expect a “very elaborate” deluxe edition and a double vinyl edition. As The Stages Burn! is the perfect ending point to the two-year long War Eternal album cycle.
“This live release will put an exclamation mark on the War Eternal tour,” Amott states. “We didn’t always plan releasing a concert film from this tour, as we have a relatively fresh lineup with Alissa [White-Gluz] on vocals, we thought maybe wait until the next album/tour cycle. But, in the end, this touring campaign was so long and successful that we decided to do this—and what could be better than capturing our headline show at the biggest heavy metal festival in the world?”
As for what’s next for Arch Enemy, they’re taking a short break before continuing the writing sessions—the band have rudimentary demos—for the follow-up to War Eternal. The addition of vocalist White-Gluz and guitarist Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore) will surely make long-time and new fans excited to experience the next phase of Arch Enemy.
“As The Stages Burn! is our way of saying thank you for the tremendous support we’ve had from the fans since we announced the new Arch Enemy lineup and released the War Eternal album back in 2014. Now we are looking forward to releasing a new studio album in 2017 and getting back out on the road!”
(written by Chris Dick / Staff Writer, Decibel Magazine)