Rating:
8.0
Arch Enemy - Black Earth
1996


01. Bury Me An Angel
02. Dark Insanity
03. Eureka
04. Idolatress
05. Cosmic Retribution
06. Demoniality
07. Transmigration Macabre
08. Time Capsule
09. Fields Of Desolation
10. Losing Faith [2002 re-release bonus]
11. The Ides Of March [Iron Maiden cover] [2002 re-release bonus]
12. Aces High [Iron Maiden cover] [2002 re-release bonus]


Let's go back in time a little, to the year of 1988, when a talented quintet by the name of Carnage was formed in the Swedish underground. In a short period of time they released an EP, two demos and a full length, "Dark Recollections," which would forever mark their country's scene. For many it was the genesis of the Gothenburg Death/Thrash blend, a start shamefully forgotten by many (a condition that the short duration of the band helped serving, unfortunately). When Carnage disbanded the future was uncertain for the then not so known personalities such as Kärki, Blomqvist, Estby and Amott. If the first four soon went to concentrate on a new colossus, Dismember, it took the last a bit more time to get back in a new similar band. In 1995, after he left Carcass and already after At The Gates' breakthrough, he and his brother went out to form Arch Enemy. As "Black Earth" proves, they were finally set to create the project that would make them the leaders they were destined to be in this style.

Here we have a debut that not only reflects the maturity the members' previous experiences gave them, but also contributes to synthesize clearly the influences this new wave of Swedish Metal was trying to put together. Direct songs with generally mid-paced heavy Thrash riffs, Death Metal growls and a very intense melodic approach, reminiscent of the leads immortalized by bands like Iron Maiden - all this Arch Enemy knew how to mix for "Black Earth." While bands like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity struggled to create more experimental and intricate albums, Arch Enemy tried to present simpler structures, but with a more captivating and fresh sound; the hooks and catchy chorus are a constant.

With this I don't intend to say that "Black Earth" is a one dimensional or repetitive album, far from that. It may be pretty straight forward and easy to digest, but there's more to it then what you might think, as with most of Arch Enemy's records that followed. To prove it there's "Cosmic Retribution," which features all the typical characteristics but also a very interesting mid section where electric and acoustic guitar solos jump in, one after another; "Demonality" surprises with its Doom influenced riffs, a small song that seems to work as an interlude; and then there's also an atmospheric Metallica-like intro to the final song, "Fields Of Desolation," a seemingly average track clocking over 5 minutes that hides the best solo of the album to the very end of it.

Years have passed and the band has suffered some changes in the meantime, most notably the departure of Johan Liiva, and ended up releasing more prominent and interesting albums, "Wages Of Sin," for example, was a step forward and even technically it's a more developed album. Clearly there has been evolution in Arch Enemy's career, but "Black Earth" was quite a strong statement at the time it was released and it has aged well. Though personally I still consider it inferior to "Dark Recollections" and "Lunar Strain," it will hold its place in the Melodic Death Metal scene, if not for its high quality then for being the debut of a great band. For that, it is a recommended listening, along with the ones I mentioned previously. 8 out of 10.


Band profile: Arch Enemy
Album: Black Earth


 


written by Passenger | 18.08.2006


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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gojko88 - 13.02.2008 at 03:03  
I totally agree with the 8. I enjoy this album quite much, but cannot help wondering why they chose Liiva to sing for them with so many vocal talents out there. It literally sounds like a 15-year old screaming over his favourite song. I can but dream of a re-recording of this album with Angela Gossow in the vocal department. That would be a punch.
K†ulu - 18.02.2008 at 18:24  
Loved the guitarwork on this album.
doof_meister - 09.06.2008 at 01:16  
What? No way!!! Angela Gossow is terrible! Liiva >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Gossow! Case in point: when Liiva left the band, so did all the creativity and character. It maybe true that without Liiva, AE's still got talent...but, what good is talent if the music is boring as shit? Currently, it sounds as if AE writes their music because it's what they do, 5 days a week, 9-5. No creativity...no character...just growl, guitar solo, growl, guitar solo, end.

As far as this album is concerned: overall, it is one of the three best melodic death metal albums in existence...the other two being Arch Enemy - Stigmata, and Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges! 10/10.
Uirapuru - 13.04.2009 at 12:44  
Written by Guest on 09.06.2008 at 01:16

What? No way!!! Angela Gossow is terrible! Liiva >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Gossow! Case in point: when Liiva left the band, so did all the creativity and character. It maybe true that without Liiva, AE's still got talent...but, what good is talent if the music is boring as shit? Currently, it sounds as if AE writes their music because it's what they do, 5 days a week, 9-5. No creativity...no character...just growl, guitar solo, growl, guitar solo, end.

As far as this album is concerned: overall, it is one of the three best melodic death metal albums in existence...the other two being Arch Enemy - Stigmata, and Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges! 10/10.


That is kind an extreme statement, but I agree with you. Johan Liiva vocals don't seem so forced like in Angela..her voice is highly overrated. I also agree that the albuns with Liiva are the best ones from Arch Enemy, but the other ones are not shit.

Anyway, ''Eureka'' and ''Cosmic Retributions'' are songs that deserve special attention, they are simply amazing. The solos in this album are among the best that i've ever heard, in an appropriate song structure that always makes the next move unpredictable. One of the best in the style.
GamlaSonn - 29.08.2009 at 15:13  
Agree with doof. Arch enemy post liva is extremely generic and boring, except some good moments on doomsday machine. Liva's vocals are much better, but a bit weak on stigmata, all tho i love all their three first. Burning Bridges is the best
Sword_Chant - 24.10.2012 at 16:21  
Black Earth is a good release.. but (for me), the production on the original release is not that great. On the other hand, the song-writing, originality and performance were all things Arch Enemy got slightly better at within each release.. i'd recommend Black Earth to the people who have bought 3 or more of the band's albums, not to someone who has just heard about the band. I'd say Burning Bridges, Wages Of Sin, Anthems Of Rebellion or Doomsday Machine are worth checking out first.

The riffs/solos and overall guitar work on this album is cool it's just the production quality is fairly poor.

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