As the punters made their way and somehow crammed into the room with true die-hard metal fans, there was a buzz that would describe it as “the calm before the storm”. Originally, this gig was set for April of this year. But due the volcanic eruption disrupting many events in March (doesn’t seem that long ago), the anticipated gig was postponed but rescheduled for November. Manchester was first in line for their four dated tour of the UK. Can they prove that the seven month wait was worth it for Manchester?

Chthonic made their way onto the stage with a respectable warm response and performed hits from their recently successful album “Mirror Of Retribution”. Played hits like the monstrous title track and the equally defeaning ’49 Theurgy Chains’, the Taiwanese sounds really captivates the viewer and got our crowd into a controlled frenzy. Seeing vocalist Freddy play the erhu (traditional Taiwanese string instrument) to the onlooking crowd in Manchester was a great bonus too. What really impressed the audience was Chthonic‘s take of British metal gods Judas Priest‘s ‘Painkiller’. With hints of oriental sounds added into the mix worked really well and grabbed their approval from the crowd.

Replacing Enslaved from the original line-up since the tour was announced back in March, was Britain’s own metal force, Malefice. Since they supported the Devildriver/Behemoth co-headlining tour in 2009, Malefice was in full force to get the crowds warmed up. Performing songs from their back catalogue, activity similar to a riot imploded upon us. To finalise their set, Dale Butler demanded that “everyone in the room to bounce like Limp Bizkit in 1999″. What a result he obtained, almost everyone did jump so high that your average metalhead seem small! Splendid set by Malefice, which I want to introduce Swedish titans Grand Magus!

Now, Grand Magus is something of a very different story. The name sounds very dark, even the album covers of the many albums the band has released, recently their 2010 release “Hammer Of The North”, looked as though it was done for the black metal scene. Instead, we have got sleazy, tasty stoner metal. The trio of Janne Christoffersson on lead vocals and guitarist, Fox on bass and backing vocals and Seb on the drums, we were confronted with music that you can match to a relaxed, motorbike ride on a long stretch of road in the countryside. The songs were certainly impressive after having heard of their name through magazines and approved by many metal lovers. ‘Iron Will’, their final track of their deep intense set, was an unexpected sing-along hit!

The head liners, Arch Enemy were next! Before their set was due to start, the crowd was patient, but you can definitely tell that everyone was about to take part in a fight that even the biggest person in the pit can’t control. The lights slowly dim down to complete darkness that spun Manchester into a frenzy. Each member came out, making their presence on stage. ‘Blasts of The Immortal’ began and the last person to enter is the animal that is Angela Gossow. She was not the person to mess around when she bellows through the microphone. She was taking no-one for granted on the night!

Tracks like ‘Revolution Begins’, ‘Ravenous’, ‘Taking Back My Soul’, ‘My Apocalypse’ and ‘Dark Insanity’ kept the hair flying, the hands clapping, pits commencing, singing constant and fists pumping. Onlookers was treated to Daniel Erlandsson‘s drum solo with a sweet blend of industrial sounds. I am not too sure if he was a electronic drum machine in disguise as his drum solo was aggressively powerful and flawless. He can actually make a whole new song that resembles soldiers going into battle. It was that infectious that it started two circle pits at separate times. Alone.

Everyone was met with mammoth tracks ‘I Will Live Again’, ‘Dead Eyes See No Future’ and a dose of …. birthday cake? It was Chris Amott‘s 33rd birthday so the crowd got to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. The icing on the cake was “We Want Cake” chants that were made the whole band giggle and kind of wished they’d bought enough cake for everyone to share! Chris Amott took to the stage and performed an improvised guitar solo that can be described as a battle for love. Beautifully performed by the lad! Then, the almighty Michael Amott hypnotised Manchester with his equally victorious guitar instrumental ‘Intermezzo Liberte’ from Arch Enemy‘s 2007 release “Rise Of The Tyrant”. The mastermind of the band (especially Carcass and Spiritual Beggars) performed to the crowd, everyone of the room stopped to listen, appreciate and give a rapturous ovation as a result.

This was everyone’s last chance to shine with more hair-whipping and pit fights as the encore tracks of ‘Dead Bury Their Dead’, ‘We Will Rise’ and the beast ‘Nemesis’. Manchester sang in unison as their victory song was ‘The Final Desolution’. A victory to signify that all bands were warriors to their own, Arch Enemy had songs and solos that can envision it was performed in a packed out stadium and embraced our congregation as “inspiration for their new record” roared Gossow.

It was most certainly worth the wait to all and the battle was won!