Arch Enemy - As The Stages Burn! (Century Media)

Concert DVD reaches new dimensions with Arch Enemy live at Wacken 2016.

As The Stages Burn! is the latest offering from Sweden’s Arch Enemy. Taking the stage at Wacken Open Air 2016, Arch Enemy ignited an eighty thousand strong attendance of spellbound festivalgoers with an onslaught of recent and classic songs performed in immaculate style at one of metal’s most popular festivals. Comprising primarily of the longstanding melodic death metal band’s set at Wacken 2016, including some all-time classics as live cuts, As The Stages Burn! is an extremely slick, very fancy live CD/DVD/Blu-Ray and LP set with incredibly smooth audio/visual quality. The accompanying artbook is any fan’s essential.

Riding the trend for feature-length high quality concert video productions, the As The Stages Burn! DVD/Blu-Ray is visually spectacular. Vibrantly filmed with thirteen cameras, acclaimed director Patric Ullaeus, who has also directed and produced a number of videos In Flames and many others, has created an exhilarating presentation of the Wacken 2016 set that is truly cinematic. This is really the next best thing to being there, and considering how much stagecraft goes into these sets; its pretty cool that a document has been made that does the experience – and magnitude – of the event justice. The DVD/Blu-Ray contains extra footage alongside the Wacken 2016 set, including behind-the-scenes from Wacken, live video from Tokyo Sacrifice and music videos from War Eternal tracks…and an exciting previously unreleased video. 

Just as exciting as the packaging and video, is the audio CD. This is possible one of the best sound qualities I have ever heard on a live CD, without losing the raw energy of such a purely massive crowd. Arch Enemy’s Wacken 2016 setlist contains some of the band’s greatest hits released with iconic former vocalist Angela Gossow, such as Nemesis (2005) and We Will Rise (2002), as well as closing with original vintage 1996’s Fields of Desolation. As The Stages Burn! therefore constitutes the first formally recorded edition of these tracks with new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz and new guitarist Jeff Loomis, which serves to consolidate the ongoing lineup. Whatever opinion one may hold of Gossow’s decision to step away from the limelight, it cannot be denied that White-Gluz’s vocal performance is fierce and her stage presence uncompromising. Arch Enemy purists may lament the departure of founding guitarist Christopher Amott but realistically ex-Nevermore guitarist Loomis’ performance at Wacken is captivating and nigh on perfect. The recent material from War Eternal, such as almost title-track As The Pages Burn and the single Stolen Life are catchy, engaging live songs which is captured profoundly on the live CD and DVD.

One may suppose that this live CD/DVD heralds a new album soon forthcoming in the wake of 2014’s War Eternal, and we eagerly await the second studio instalment of the new Arch Enemy lineup. Arch Enemy is one of the most polished festival headliners currently on the touring beat. As The Stages Burn! is a fitting celebration of their commitment to fronting stellar live sets, and is an essential addition to any Arch Enemy collection.