Arch Enemy / Exodus The Phoenix, Toronto ON January 27

Arch Enemy / Exodus The Phoenix, Toronto ON January 27
How much does it suck when you go to see a favourite band and they shrug off their most revered work for a bunch of new crap you don't give a rat's ass about? Imagine going to see Motörhead and not hearing "Ace of Spades," or Black Sabbath neglecting "Paranoid." You know, those songs you say you never want to hear again but secretly adore, especially live?

Someone forgot to tell Exodus — one of thrash metal's original outfits — about that rule. On this eve, the purveyors of "good friendly violent fun" were a strange mixture of both greatness and frustration. Not lacking one iota of energy or spirit, the quintet was engaging, inspiring and virtually note-perfect.

What's the problem then? Well, the fact that in an effort to maintain that ever-elusive relevance some three decades into their work, they've all but ignored the majority of their past. During an hour-plus set, the band performed a whopping three older tunes, two of which were from their debut, 1985's Bonded By Blood, and the third an obligatory rendition of their most renowned tune, "The Toxic Waltz."

Now, sure they're a great band and their recent work is passable, and we're all for moving forward. But these guys need to realize that in a room full of people who remember you before your first hiatus, sticking with the new stuff isn't always the best plan. Not to nitpick but at least one dusty gem makes the new medicine go down a bit easier.

Speaking of fresh pharmaceuticals, Arch Enemy — who are pups at 15 years old in comparison to Exodus's 30 — were loud, abrasive, engaging and brutally thick; everything one would expect from the melodic death metallers.

Moreover, they managed to spread the set list out amongst their eight studio efforts, not forgetting that the latest, last year's The Root of All Evil, is actually a re-recording of their oldest material. Still, even if they were short on surprises, at least they knew how to balance between the curious greenhorns and the dedicated long ones, proving why they're headlining and Exodus is but a support act at this point.