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Getting Into: Arch Enemy


Written by: doez
Published: 27.06.2021


Ah, Arch Enemy, one of the most divisive metal bands; most people either love them or hate them. Founded in 1996 by guitarist Michael Amott, they've been playing melodeath / Gothenburg metal for the entirety of their career, a genre Amott pioneered in Carcass a few years prior. Although they were a little late on the scene (In Flames, At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity were already established by that point), they still had quite an impact and successfully amassed thousands of fans. They grew to become what's very likely the most popular female-fronted extreme metal band, and they've seen a lot of changes in their music over the years. On a personal standpoint, Arch Enemy's music played a big role in my metal journey, especially when I was a beginner, being as far as I remember my first ever "favorite band of all times", and although they've lost that title a good while ago now, I probably wouldn't be where I am without them. They're also most importantly the very thing that led me to discover Metal Storm! We will see in this article how they evolved through the years; let's get started.





1996 - Black Earth


After the Amott brothers, both of them guitarists, recruited Johan Liiva on vocals alongside session musician Daniel Erlandsson on drums, they recorded their first ever album: Black Earth. Truth be told, it's a Michael Amott solo album rather than a real Arch Enemy release, as he composed pretty much everything in there and played the bass on the record (even though Liiva is credited for it). This debut is quite an interesting one in their discography. The production is worse than on the next releases, and yet the energy is already there. Everything is much rawer, more aggressive, faster and brutal than what followed (although of course still very melodic; it's Arch Enemy we're talking about, not Dying Fetus).

You already have classic tracks like "Bury Me An Angel" or the fantastic closer "Fields Of Desolation" (the only track of that era they still sometimes play live) and the album is quite consistent in quality. There's not a single track here that I'd consider bad; everything ranges from at least enjoyable to some of the best stuff the genre has to offer. It started some recurring traditions for the band, for example having an instrumental track before the last song, or the first track being a highlight of the album. It feels very primitive when you know the rest of their discography, but it's a really fun album overall, and the closest in sound to Heartwork-era Carcass.

Sadly, some tracks lack originality and are quite forgettable, although, as stated earlier, they're still enjoyable. The album's run time compensates with that by only being 32 minutes long; it knows exactly when to end without getting boring. My favorite tracks in there would be the two aforementioned ones, as well as "Cosmic Retribution" and "Transmigration Macabre". It's overall quite a solid release that set the basis for what Arch Enemy was: fun, energetic death metal, relying mostly on thrashy riffing and with absolutely sick solos. It also was apparently pretty successful in Japan back then.


1998 - Stigmata


Two years later, the band recruited Martin Bengtsson from Armageddon (Chris Amott's other band) on the bass, making Liiva a full-time singer. They also asked for Daniel Erlandsson to be on the drums once again, only this time he'd join as a permanent member. To this day, he's the only person aside from Michael Amott that's played on every of Arch Enemy's release. Following a pretty strong debut, Stigmata had the task of improving upon it and hopefully becoming another success. The album is notably more melodic than its predecessor, the production is cleaner and the songs are more ambitious, with two of them getting to the 7-minute mark. This, however, is a bit double-edged, as some tracks can feel somewhat too long, like "Bridge Of Destiny". That feeling is accentuated by the fact that the tracks are slower paced than on the debut. Liiva's voice is also not quite as good as it was on the previous record.

Another issue I have with this release is that it just doesn't flow well at times; there are sudden changes in the pacing and melody of tracks that just feel weird, as if they had two cool sections and didn't know how to go from one to the other, and just decided to not add a transition. Also, I said that the production is cleaner, but it's kinda weird; it might just be my version of the album but I hear some annoying white noise in the background, and I actually prefer the sharper tone of the debut. This album, however, started something pretty cool: the deluxe editions. A nice tradition that Arch Enemy has kept for most of their releases since Stigmata is to have deluxe editions containing additional tracks as well as covers, and they're really cool pretty much every time. Stigmata, for example, features "Diva Satanica" and "Damnation's Way" as bonus tracks, which are both some of the best tracks on the record, as well as fan favorites, especially the first one. The album also continues the already established traditions: a killer opener and an instrumental before the last song. My favorite tunes in there would be "Beast Of Man", "Stigmata" (one of their best instrumentals), "Black Earth" and "Diva Satanica".

This release overall doesn't really improve on the debut, but rather tries out new stuff, which also works, but sadly not as well as what the debut achieved. It's always good to experiment, it just doesn't always pay off. Still, Arch Enemy were just getting started, and their next release would bring some newfound greatness far beyond what their early career could hope to reach.



After trading Martin Bengtsson for Charles Petter Andreason, a.k.a Sharlee D'Angelo, former Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and Dismember bassist, who's still in the band to this day, the last album of the first era was ready to be unleashed. Only a year after Stigmata, they managed to release the crowning achievement of their first era. It's much more melodic, the production blows the first two releases out of the park, Liiva's vocals are at their absolute best, and the track list is absolutely phenomenal. Literally every single song in here is a contender for the best Arch Enemy track, my very favorite being the fantastic "Angelclaw", although "The Immortal", "Dead Inside" and "Silverwing" are quite close. The overall tone of the album is also much darker, feeling both sad and angry, and that's where Liiva's vocals shine the best, in conveying these emotions. His weird mix of just shouting at a low range and doing the "goblin"-type scream works a charm.

The solos, although a bit cheesy, are just the cherry on top, they're all just so good and display yet again the creativity of the Amott brothers. On top of that, you get the deluxe tracks: a really good Europe cover and a remade version of "Fields Of Desolation", the best song on the debut, and it completely annihilates the original. It probably stands as my second favorite of this record. This might as well be their best release and definitely was the strongest finish the first period of the band's existence could have had. Bonus points for the cover art also, which is by far their best. The only odd thing this album does is not following the tradition of having an instrumental, which it does not need anyways. Another slight discontent I have here is that sometimes the transitions to the solos are a bit odd, but it's definitely not as blatant as on Stigmata, so it doesn't really shatter the experience of the album.

===

A year later, in 2000, came out a really good live album: Burning Japan Live 1999. It sums up what 90's Arch Enemy is all about: great riffs, great solos, great tracks, and a surprising amount of popularity in Japan. The track list in there is quite awesome and could serve as a "best of" of the era, and the performance of the band is nearly flawless; I definitely recommend it if you enjoy the first era records.

However, everything great has to come to an end. This is sadly where the first era, the Liiva era, ends.

===



2001 - Wages Of Sins


"New millennium, new me" must be what went through Arch Enemy's head in 2001 when they decided to swap Liiva for Angela Gossow, making them one of the rare extreme metal bands with a female singer. In addition to a change of lineup, the band's entire sound shifted away from what had been established during the previous decade. This might as well be what propelled them to worldwide popularity, more than ever before. Meet the new Arch Enemy: thrashier, more aggressive, with a cleaner production, but keeping one major trait: absolutely sick solos. The songs are built in a different way from the previous era, so much so that it sounds like a completely different band, but it's still one of the places where the album shines the most. Angela's voice probably forced them to change their musical direction, as it's quite different from Liiva's, but it's nonetheless quite good on this release.

The album is also more upbeat than the other ones, and more fun as well. I quickly mentioned the solos already but they've been pumped up so much, it's probably what people like the most in here. On the last album they were amazing; this time they're fantastic, definitely some of the best in their career and the highlights of the album. The track list is also phenomenal: "Enemy Within", "Burning Angel", their most played live song "Ravenous", "Dead Bury Their Dead", "Web Of Lies", there are so many great tracks, it's absolutely amazing. The only songs I have a small problem with would be "Behind The Smile" and "Savage Messiah"; the tone of their respective choruses doesn't really work with Angela's vocals, although that's the only complaint I have with them. "Snow Bound", also, feels like a pointless instrumental.

This release followed with the usual traditions: killer opener, an instrumental before the last track and a sick deluxe edition containing a nice additional track, as well as two covers recorded while Liiva was still on the vocals: Iron Maiden's "Aces High" and Judas Priest's "Starbreaker". That last one is quite special to me, as it was the first Arch Enemy song I ever heard, and I absolutely fell in love with that solo at the end. It might as well be my favorite Arch Enemy solo, probably just by pure nostalgia but it's absolutely great. Overall, you guessed it, this album is absolutely wonderful. Although I don't love it as much as its predecessor, it's a fantastic start for the new era of the band, and it laid some new groundwork for them to build upon in the new millennium.



Something strange happened for this album. For the first time since their inception: Arch Enemy had a stable lineup. Following the trend set by its predecessor, Anthems Of Rebellion is cleaner, thrashier and once again more aggressive than what preceded it. In fact, this album is very likely their heaviest and most brutal. It's all showcased in the first track: "Silent Wars", which starts with a great very thrashy riff. It's got quite an unusual time change in the middle and doesn't really go into the over-melodic stuff that we were used to. It sums up pretty well the evolution of the band and might as well be my favorite in here. Angela's voice probably reached its peak here, I really like it. Sadly one of the things that is missing is a key trait to the older Arch Enemy sound: the solos! Here they feel a bit restrained, as the band went for a heavier sound, they left most of the fun behind, which doesn't work as well.

Some of their most iconic tracks are there, the two most important ones being "We Will Rise" and "Dead Eyes See No Future", both factors to their mainstream success as these are still some big fan favorites. This album also innovates with the use of keyboards / synths, as well as backing vocals on tracks like "End Of The Line" or "Dehumanization". The track list is quite great, the four songs I already mentioned, as well as "Leader Of The Rats", "Saints And Sinners", or the short, sweet and quite brutal for Arch Enemy standards "Despicable Heroes" are all really good tracks. The release keeps the essential traditions; however, something's missing. Something very important. THE DELUXE EDITION! Thankfully, this issue is solved by the Dead Eyes See No Future EP released a year later, which contains a few live tracks, as well as three covers, including a song our good old Michael Amott wrote himself: Carcass's "Incarnated Solvent Abuse".

Overall, this album marks a shift in style and a departure from the fun, over-the-top Arch Enemy established in the previous release, instead focusing on a heavier and more serious sound, also more political, discussing about anarchy for the first and definitely not the last time. It's still a great album; I wouldn't change it for anything, as it forged an important part of Arch Enemy's identity.



Stable lineup you said? Well Arch Enemy definitely agrees, you don't change a winning team! Something you change though is your sound, and here they finally did it; they stopped being thrashier and more aggressive! This album takes the established sound of the last release and just builds upon it for once instead of making it angrier, and it works perfectly. While the last album sounded a bit unpolished at points, this one is an absolute treat. It's still darker and more serious than the rest of their discography, but it feels a bit more mature this time. Songs are slower paced and take the time to breathe, which is quite a contrast from the mostly non-stop aggression of the previous release. For once, this album misses on ALL of the traditions: the first song is just alright, there's no instrumental before the last track, and most importantly: THE DELUXE EDITION. It is nowhere to be found. Absolutely horrific. Am I overreacting? Maybe.

Now, onto the track list. Although as I already indicated, "Taking Back My Soul" is a bit underwhelming, the rest of the track list is just top-notch, and just like the last album, two tracks here are more important than the others: "Nemesis" and "My Apocalypse", two big fan favorites that are still some of their most popular tracks to this day. They might also be responsible for one massive achievement: for the first time ever, Arch Enemy entered the US charts. Finally, their popularity was really showing. As for the rest of the tracklist, it's quite diverse; you've got your thrashier songs, with "Nemesis" and "I Am Legend/Out For Blood", your instrumentals with "Enter The Machine" and "Hybrids Of Steel" (that one being my favorite instrumental from them), your slower paced songs, which for once are done really right, with "My Apocalypse" and "Mechanic God Creation", the latter being my favorite track on the album. Finally, something that was absent from the previous release, a fun song! "Machtkampf" is the only song here that doesn't sound as serious as the rest, even feeling somewhat "danceable", I really like it.

On the whole album, Angela's vocals are a bit weird; they probably added some kind of effect on it, but it's not really a negative thing, it doesn't change the quality of the tracks all that much. This album does the whole "serious atmosphere" better than its predecessor, with slower, albeit more interesting tracks.



You know, after 6 great albums, it was surprising that Arch Enemy still had it. Well, for some reason, they lost it here. Chris Amott was temporarily replaced by Fredrik Åkesson (who'd later join Opeth) for the whole year of 2006, but I don't think that's what caused the leap in quality that happened here. What's wrong with this album, you might ask? Well, first off: have you heard that mix? My god, I have no idea what happened in the studio; someone must have pressed the wrong button or something, because this is on par with a Mütiilation release. Everything is just so muffled and weird, and Angela's vocals are just plain bad here.

The album nonetheless does have some positives. There are a handful of pretty good tracks: "Blood On Your Hands", "The Last Enemy", the very, very cheesy "I Will Live Again", as well as the very good instrumental "Intermezzo Liberté", so there's definitely some enjoyment to be had with this album. In fact, I'd say pretty much every track here is at least alright. The global sound of the album is quite a return to roots; the songs definitely have the fun factor that the previous two releases missed, as well as the cheesy over-the-top solos. They still got the thrash and aggression and all you'd expect from Arch Enemy, just with some of the poorest mix you'll ever hear in a professionally recorded album, and some of the blandest songs ever. Because yes, while I said the songs were enjoyable, it doesn't take away the fact that they all sound like copy-pastes of each other, sounding like stadium anthems made for live shows more than for an actual album, which is probably why they all sound similar. Of course it's still Arch Enemy, you'll have a lot of fun hearing the sick riffs and solos, but there's not much more to it this time around.

As far as the deluxe edition goes, you got a KISS cover, which is pretty good, and on the Revolution Begins EP that was released alongside the album, you got a Queensrÿche cover. Overall, I might have been harsh on this release; it's definitely not the worst thing ever (that one's for later), and you can still get some enjoyment from it if you can stand the horrendous mix and the poor vocals. It's just pretty average for Arch Enemy standards.

===

Now this specific period in between two studio albums, from 2007 to 2011, had a good chunk of noteworthy content. First off, released in 2008 was Tyrants Of The Rising Sun: Live In Japan, which is, you guessed it, a live album recorded in Japan, keeping up their good relationship with the land of the rising sun, and honestly it's a pretty neat album! Angela's vocals are better than on Rise Of The Tyrant (which isn't really an achievement but hey, better than nothing), but they fall flat on some songs, like "Silverwing" or "Burning Angel". The tracklist is pretty good, albeit with sadly only three Liiva era tracks. You get "Ravenous", "Dead Eyes See No Future", "Silverwing", "Nemesis", "We Will Rise" and "Fields Of Desolation", and the new tracks are WAY better here than on the album; hearing people singing along in "Blood On Your Hands" or "Night Falls Fast" genuinely adds to the songs, which only amplifies the "stadium" feel of the album that I mentioned earlier.

===




What interests us the most, though, is a compilation, this one called The Root Of All Evil. It's comprised of only Liiva-era tracks, but here's the catch: they're all sung by Angela. This might have been done in an effort to familiarize the new fans with their older material, which is quite a nice thing considering how rarely these tracks were played live. The track list is quite good, with "Beast Of Man", "The Immortal", "Bury Me An Angel" and "Silverwing" to name a few, as well as of course in good old Arch Enemy fashion a Japanese exclusive deluxe edition containing two pretty okay covers and three live tracks, most notably "The Immortal" with a new bass solo that I didn't know I needed in my life. The tracks aren't bad; none of them are butchered or anything, but they ironically lack something, and that something is Liiva's vocals. Angela's voice simply doesn't fit with the older tracks. Her vocals are at least better than on Rise Of The Tyrant, as is the mix, thank god, but that doesn't mean much. Most songs are just inferior versions and kinda pointless apart from of course familiarizing them to a new audience.

There's one track that I'd actually consider better than the original though, namely "Dark Insanity"; I never really liked the original all that much and it's one of the few that actually matches Angela's vocals. Other than that, eh. Rock bottom is hit with "Bury Me An Angel" which, although not bad in itself, feels like it got its energy sucked out and just feels pretty lame. Overall, unless you really like Angela's vocals, there's not much point in listening to this; it's inferior versions of great tracks. It can be good if you want to get used to older tracks but can't stand Liiva's vocals, but other than that there's no real use for it.


2011 - Khaos Legions


After the mixed album that was Rise Of The Tyrant, Arch Enemy needed something real good to get back on track, something that would erase their mistake and just bring everything back to normal. Unfortunately, they instead chose to make Khaos Legions. Now you know what, I came back to this album expecting way worse; my memories were much less positive toward it, but I actually enjoyed some tracks this time around. "City Of The Dead", "Through The Eyes Of A Raven", "Cruelty Without Beauty", "Vengeance Is Mine" and "Secrets", as well as maybe half of "Thorns In My Flesh" and "Yesterday Is Dead And Gone". The rest of the album? Well uh it exists.

Honestly there's not much I can say on the rest of the tracks, and that's for one simple reason: it's some of the most boring stuff Arch Enemy has ever written, but with the catch that the choruses absolutely suck. I don't know how they did it, but two thirds of the tracks are ruined by their boring, uninspired, mid-tempo sing-along chorus. It feels like a continuation of the previous release on that stadium track feel, but even worse than before, feeling lazy, monotonous and repetitive. This is only amplified by the fact that the tracks are much slower than on the previous release, reaching Stigmata levels, and that was one of the things that didn't work well in Stigmata. It doesn't work here either. As far as positives go, the mix is much better than whatever happened on the last album, Angela's voice is much better too and the solos are finally back, and the ones here are quite good, maybe even some of the best since Wages Of Sins.

Now is, of course, time for the most interesting part of the review, it's deluxe edition time baby. This one is pretty eh honestly, the major problems being that: i) out of the 6 tracks, only 2 are new covers, plus 1 re-recorded one and an acoustic version of the instrumental "Snow Bound" from Wages Of Sin; and ii) Angela's vocals and the mix are pretty bad on most of them, thanks to the fact that they were recorded during Rise Of The Tyrant era. So, for a verdict: eh deluxe edition. Overall, this album is just pretty bad; most of it is painful to hear, the rest ranges from alright to good. It definitely feels like the dream lineup was struggling for inspiration.


2014 - War Eternal


After all this time, the winning team wasn't really winning anymore, and when the team isn't winning, you change the players. For the first time since 2001, Angela Gossow would not be doing the vocals on an Arch Enemy release, and for the first time since the very creation of the band, Chris Amott wouldn't be there on a studio recording. Instead, it was time to welcome Alissa White-Gluz as the new frontwoman and Nick Cordle as the new guitarist. First track, first riff, first scream, you know what's up: this is gonna be fun. The direction of the band changed a lot between two releases, and it's quite impressive what a breath of fresh air this album is. It radiates one thing the last few Arch Enemy releases missed: pure unadulterated passion fun. Actually, you know what, scrap that joke, it feels like this one really has a lot more passion put into it than the last few records. The solos are back to their former glory, not on the level of Wages Of Sin but honestly not far off; they went back to the over-the-top and never-ending style they previously had and I absolutely love it.

My only complaint with the release would be that the vocals are under-exploited. In The Agonist, Alissa switched between harsh and cleans, and it worked absolutely great; I'd say this release would profit from a few cleans here and there just to vary the pleasures. Otherwise, for the first time since Burning Bridges, there's not a single track here I'd throw away. "Never Forgive, Never Forget", "War Eternal", "No More Regrets", "Time Is Black", honestly everything here is just fun, though "On And On" and "As The Pages Burn" are kinda generic. Overall, this is a great comeback and deserves to be considered as such. Maybe it's my nostalgia speaking, or just finally being free from listening to the previous two releases, but I can confidently say this is a very good album and I enjoy it quite a lot.

Now wait a minute, am I really gonna get to the next album without even mentioning the deluxe edition? Of course not, who do you think I am!? Now this is one of the areas where they really threw every random thing they had lying around. A questionable? Mike Oldfield cover in addition to a... respectable? cover of "Breaking The Law", but the meat of the deluxe version is that you get an instrumental version of each song. It's a rather nice bonus, although definitely not the best thing in the world either; they definitely chose quantity over quality here.

===


This release was a massive success, peaking at 44th place in the charts, which they had never reached before and gaining an incredible new amount of success. This is still their most popular release on Spotify; the new lineup was already set in stone for a newer generation of fans, a generation that I was definitely a part of when I discovered them. However, right after the album was released, Nick Cordle was swapped for another guitarist, and they clearly have good tastes because the newcomer was none other than the legendary Jeff Loomis from Nevermore. In late 2014, Arch Enemy released a random split with Kreator, followed by an EP in 2015 containing two new covers, a new version of "Stolen Life" and some demos. Finally, in March 2017, they released a live album: As The Stages Burn!.

This one has a very special place in my heart, being the first live album I ever listened to. Sadly, the track list is not really the best; although it has five pretty sweet songs from War Eternal, it only has five tracks from any release before Khaos Legions, only one of them being from the Liiva era, and they didn't even bother playing the track in its entirety, it's just half of "Fields Of Desolation", specifically the ending solo. That's not even the worst thing about it; what really sucks is that they play four tracks from Khaos Legions, and my four least favorites at that. Other than that, it's quite a good record; Alissa's vocals are pretty good and the songs are played flawlessly.

===




2017 - Will To Power


The lineup is the same, and after three years of waiting it was finally time for a new release. With a much bigger audience, new expectations were set: topping War Eternal. For some, it did; this album gathered another large number of new fans. Just have a look at "The Eagle Flies Alone" on YouTube, it's got 70 MILLION views, the most viewed video clip Arch Enemy has ever made. Sadly, it didn't do it for me. It's not a bad album per se; it has several good ideas and exploits them pretty well in some tracks. "The Race", "Blood In The Water", "The World Is Yours", "Murder Scene", "Dreams Of Retribution" and "My Shadow And I" are pretty good songs, my favorite being "Dreams Of Retribution", and "Reason To Believe" experiments with clean vocals. It tries out new things and is honestly very different from any other Arch Enemy release.

Alissa's vocals have improved since the last release, and we have the very occasional appearance of some cleans here and there. The solos aren't as good as last time, but I still enjoy them quite a bit, and the riffs are as usual pretty sick. However, the main problem here is simply that the rest of the album is pretty bland, just not interesting at all, and I find it quite sad with all of the talent in there, especially the newcomer Jeff Loomis, who for some reason didn't take part in the writing process?? This release at least has the merit of setting a new standard of light experimentation for the band, which makes me quite excited for their next effort, as this time Loomis will hopefully be participating in the actual writing of the album, which only promises good stuff.

Now, finally, for the last time today, let's have a look at the deluxe edition. And honestly, this one is really good. Although it's only two tracks, two covers, they're both extremely cool ones. "City Baby Attacked By Rats" is a cover of punk band GBH, and I really like it; it's quite different from their usual style and works really well. The second one is a cover of "Back To Back" by the Danish heavy metal band Pretty Maids, and I'm gonna go ahead and say this is my favorite song on the album. It uses Alissa's cleans absolutely perfectly, the solo is quite good, everything works well in this track; it's probably one of the best covers they've ever done.

===


After this release came the EP Råpunk in 2018, which contains four cover of the swedish D-beat band Skitslickers, showing off once again that they really liked punk. Finally, in 2019 came the compilation Covered In Blood, which has most of the covers Arch Enemy has ever done and that I've been talking about so much. So, here it is, Arch Enemy, you now know everything about them.

However, there's something I haven't mentioned that happened in 2016, something quite important. Michael Amott founded a new band. The lineup, if you please: Michael and Chris Amott, Sharlee D'Angelo, Daniel Erlandsson and... Johan motherfucking Liiva. Yup, you guessed it, this is the Burning Bridges lineup reunited. The band's name is simple: Black Earth, founded exactly 20 years after the release of... Black Earth. They were probably missing the good old times or something like that, and decided to tour... Japan. Of course.

The band released 20 Years Of Dark Insanity: Japan Tour 2016, which is, as its name indicates, a live recorded during their tour in Japan in 2016. Only old tracks are played it, and in fact, pretty much the entire early discography of Arch Enemy is present here. Out of the first three albums, only 8 tracks (excluding covers) aren't played: "Losing Faith", "Stigmata", "Dark Of The Sun", "Hydra" (a minute-long instrumental), "Damnation's Way", "Burning Bridges", and to my despair, "Demonic Science" and "Seed Of Hate". As such, you get pretty much the entirety of their early discography played live, including Black Earth played track by track on the second disc, which is quite a treat. Liiva's vocals are obviously not as good as they were 20 years ago, but they're nonetheless quite enjoyable, and all the tracks are played pretty much perfectly, so everything here is a treat. And in addition to that, you get a brand new song, "Darkness Has Returned", which is quite good, albeit different from their old sound. This live album was followed in 2019 by the compilation Path Of The Immortal, comprised of 17 old Arch Enemy tracks, although none of them are rerecorded or anything, it's just the old versions. In addition, you get two brand new tracks: "Burn On The Flame" and "Life Infernal", which are way closer to how the old-school tracks sound and are actually really good. It's really great to see that the old Arch Enemy lives again, although it's sad that these tracks aren't played in regular setlists anymore. This is a huge nostalgia trip, and with three new tracks already I hope it'll end up being something more.




You now know Arch Enemy, but where do you go afterwards? Well, there are a few side projects that you might want to check out.






Before everything he's really known for today, Michael Amott was in a death metal band in 1990 (which also was briefly joined by Liiva). This band only released one album which is now considered a cult classic by many. Don't expect something similar to the melodic stuff that came afterwards in Amott's career; Carnage is pure death metal. It's raw, unapologetic, but still knows when to breathe and slow down, which it does in several tracks, something akin to the rest of the Swedish death metal movement (led of course by Entombed) that it is a part of.

This release has some original touches, like some synth here and there, but other than that it's pretty much pure death metal. Though the riffs are sick and it's overall a pretty enjoyable experience, it's still sadly fairly standard and doesn't really do anything new and particularly interesting. It stays anchored in death / thrash most of the time, and as someone not too much into OSDM, it's not really what I like the most. The tracks though are all quite good; there's not really any that's lacking compared to the others, but they don't distinguish themselves from each other all that much. I'd still say "Torn Apart" is my favorite; the main riff in it sounds a lot like the one in "Bury Me An Angel", which it probably inspired. "Infestation Of Evil" and "Deranged From Blood" are both also good contenders thanks to that sweet bass section in the first one and the more melodic moments in the latter one. This is most likely a must have for OSDM fans, which I'm not, so I'm giving it three and a half stars because it's still quite a good release.


Carcass - Heartwork (1993)


Of course, this wouldn't be a complete guide without Carcass. This album is for a lot of people, me included, the one that gave birth to melodic death metal altogether, and it's a staple in the path of most metal listeners. It remains much rawer and sharper than most melodic death metal, but it has a few things to distinguish it from regular death metal, these things being key traits of Michael Amott's play style: sick riffs and great solos, which all sound melodic. This album is the closest you'll get to Black Earth if that's what you're looking for, although, as I stated already, it's much rawer. The tracks in here are all classics, with "Heartwork", "Embodiment" and "Death Certificate" being my favorites. The vocals are quite different from any Arch Enemy release, being closer to regular death metal vocals while still keeping a unique trait of being pretty high-pitched. It's a classic, and for a good reason, it spawned a new genre and showed that Michael Amott was a great guitarist.



Right between the releases of Black Earth and Stigmata came another melodeath album in 1997 featuring three (at the time) Arch Enemy members: Chris Amott, Martin Bengtsson and Peter Wildoer. This album was called Crossing The Rubicon.

I'm gonna go ahead and say I didn't expect anything from this release. This is one of the biggest surprises that came with writing this article. In case you might not have noticed the rating, I love this album; it's absolutely excellent and I believe that every single track in there is fantastic. This is melodeath done right, not just simple songs with repetitive structures, there's a lot of variation in there. I'd even go as far as to say that it has several prog elements in there. This is pretty much the best you can find in the genre: not a single weak track, neat solos, good vocals and overall phenomenal songwriting. There's some experimentation here and there, like on the instrumental "Funeral In Space", which contains some flute, or "Galaxies Away" and its odd percussion. You might have noticed the space theme, and it's quite a good fit because this album takes you on a journey through galaxies; it just explores so much in less that 45 minutes, I'm honestly impressed by how insanely good this is. Pretty much every track could be my favorite in there, but "Asteroid Dominion", "Children Of The New Sun" and "Into The Sun" are probably the biggest standouts. Overall, this is an album I'd recommend above everything, top-tier melodeath and far more interesting than Stigmata, which leaves me wondering where all of this inspiration was for the Arch Enemy release that came the following year.



In 1998, the year of Stigmata, Michael Amott released another album. This one was with his stoner rock / metal band, Spiritual Beggars. I'm gonna go ahead and say that the Arch Enemy release is more successful in what it tries. Now I'm not particularly a stoner fan. In fact, I don't think I've ever listened to a stoner album in its entirety before this one, but somehow this still feels extremely bland and unimaginative. It just feels pretty formulaic, stoner for the sake of stoner, and simply does not try anything new really. Is it a bad album though? Not one bit. This release, albeit very standard, is still pretty good and enjoyable. There are parts where it drags, a lot, and I found myself bored quite a number of times, but there are some redeeming qualities to be found in there. It's well crafted and the songs don't feel out of place; they're just too repetitive, which ultimately is my sole problem with the album, it's too long for what it is. There are some standout tracks, most notably "Cosmic Romance" and "Mushroom Tea Girl", but they're drowned in a sea of similarity, which makes it so I don't really see myself ever coming back to this release. Bonus point for the cover art though, which I really like.



Before joining Arch Enemy, Alissa White-Gluz was in another noteworthy band, playing a mix of metalcore and melodic death metal. This album is probably the one that uses Alissa's vocals the best in her entire carrier, frequently switching between cleans and growls, making for really interesting tracks. Every song is different and the album is quite varied, with "The Tempest (The Siren's Song; The Banshee's Cry)", "Birds Elope With The Sun" and "Chlorpromazine" being my favorites. Another really interesting track is an a capella cover of Tchaikovsky's famous Swan Lake, and Alissa's vocals really shine in here; it shows once again that she has a lot of talent in her cleans. The only thing I don't really like here is the production; it's not really good to say the least. It's not 'Rise Of The Tyrant' bad but it's definitely sub-par. Other than that, Alissa's growls become a bit monotonous after a while, but this is still a very good album nonetheless; I like it a lot and it's a good way to discover Alissa at her full potential.








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


Comments

Comments: 29   Visited by: 166 users
27.06.2021 - 22:02
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Never really was a big Arch Enemy fan, but this was a fantastic article! You sure do love your deluxe editions.

The biggest crime is giving Heartwork such a low rating.
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27.06.2021 - 22:27
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by RaduP on 27.06.2021 at 22:02

Never really was a big Arch Enemy fan, but this was a fantastic article! You sure do love your deluxe editions.

The biggest crime is giving Heartwork such a low rating.

Thanks! I started writing it in like January, probably one of the things I've worked the most on in my life, it's quite satisfying to finally see it published.
For Heartwork, I don't know why but I never could get too much into Carcass, with the exception of Symphonies Of Sickness and Surgical Steel, but I'm not really the biggest melodeath guy anyways (that might sound odd coming from the guy who wrote an entire article on Arch Enemy).

And don't mess with deluxe editions
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28.06.2021 - 00:56
Nejde
Green Devil
Nicely done! I've listened to Arch Enemy since the beginning and I can only agree with you. You're more or less spot on with every album. To be honest I listen to Arch Enemy much less nowadays but the album I mostly return to is Doomsday Machine which is my favourite. "I Am Legend / Out For Blood" is the best song they've done imo and I really enjoy "Machtkampf" too.

Also I became a fan of Alissa when she was in The Agonist and I actually prefer her albums with them since she has such an amazing clean voice. So when it comes to Arch Enemy, Angela will always be number one.

And apparently one can't be aware of all bands out there so thanks for introducing me to Armageddon, what a great discovery. Better late than never. Cheers!
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28.06.2021 - 11:54
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Great article, never liked band, just Johan Liiva period. Most I hate band us, i dont like Angela, but more I dislike Alicca. Band can write some good, melodic riffs, classic band, but they should choose front man, or better front women
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28.06.2021 - 12:56
AndyMetalFreak
Mr Nice Guy
Having a female singer is no problem to me, Alicia performs well, Angela also did a good job, but to me the music is not that great IMO compared with other bands from the Gothenburg scene, I always preferd DT, In Flames and At the Gates.
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28.06.2021 - 13:20
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by AndyMetalFreak on 28.06.2021 at 12:56

Having a female singer is no problem to me, Alicia performs well, Angela also did a good job, but to me the music is not that great IMO compared with other bands from the Gothenburg scene, I always preferd DT, In Flames and At the Gates.

I feel like their sound is pretty different from the rest of the gothernburg scene, they don't really fit in with the others, which is probably why I enjoy them so much because I genuinely dislike listening to the bands you just cited lol
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28.06.2021 - 13:35
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by AndyMetalFreak on 28.06.2021 at 12:56

Having a female singer is no problem to me, Alicia performs well, Angela also did a good job, but to me the music is not that great IMO compared with other bands from the Gothenburg scene, I always preferd DT, In Flames and At the Gates.


I have not problem that female fronts, I have problem to those 2....
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Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

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28.06.2021 - 14:10
musclassia

Written by AndyMetalFreak on 28.06.2021 at 12:56

Having a female singer is no problem to me, Alicia performs well, Angela also did a good job, but to me the music is not that great IMO compared with other bands from the Gothenburg scene, I always preferd DT, In Flames and At the Gates.


Yeah, a blast of Nemesis or We Will Rise can be fun, but overall I've never really clicked with Arch Enemy in the way I have with several other Gothenburg bands, on disc or live, although I've not explored their full discog - I've put down a couple of albums to try based on this article (nice work doez!)
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28.06.2021 - 14:14
AndyMetalFreak
Mr Nice Guy
Written by Bad English on 28.06.2021 at 13:35



I have not problem that female fronts, I have problem to those 2....

I understand, I'm not really a fan of them both either, but of the two I prefer Angela, and like you I prefer Johan Liiva period.
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28.06.2021 - 14:17
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by AndyMetalFreak on 28.06.2021 at 14:14

Written by Bad English on 28.06.2021 at 13:35



I have not problem that female fronts, I have problem to those 2....

I understand, I'm not really a fan of them both either, but of the two I prefer Angela, and like you I prefer Johan Liiva period.


how to put it, I like a air dried reindeer not sallat sea grass on my table.
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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28.06.2021 - 14:49
AndyMetalFreak
Mr Nice Guy
Written by Bad English on 28.06.2021 at 14:17



how to put it, I like a air dried reindeer not sallat sea grass on my table.

Very clever description 😉
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28.06.2021 - 14:50
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by AndyMetalFreak on 28.06.2021 at 14:49

Written by Bad English on 28.06.2021 at 14:17



how to put it, I like a air dried reindeer not sallat sea grass on my table.

Very clever description 😉


Thats the only true reason
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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28.06.2021 - 21:50
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by musclassia on 28.06.2021 at 14:10

I've put down a couple of albums to try based on this article (nice work doez!)

Glad this made you try and come back to them, hopefully you'll find something you like in there!
Also thanks for editing the article!
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29.06.2021 - 16:26
Asat0r

I haven't really listened to Arch Enemy in years, and they used to be one of my all time favorites. This inspired me to go back and listen to their discography, and I'm really enjoying it. I'm digging Rise of the Tyrant a lot more than I did when it came out. I definitely agree with the production, her voice is much more raw than it was on previous recordings.
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29.06.2021 - 18:29
Lanthros

I stopped paying them any attention after wages of sin. They just weren't the same band for me any more. Nothing at all against Angela or Alissa, but Johan just had that spark that caught my attention.
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29.06.2021 - 21:21
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by Asat0r on 29.06.2021 at 16:26

I haven't really listened to Arch Enemy in years, and they used to be one of my all time favorites. This inspired me to go back and listen to their discography, and I'm really enjoying it. I'm digging Rise of the Tyrant a lot more than I did when it came out. I definitely agree with the production, her voice is much more raw than it was on previous recordings.

Glad I made you come back to them! Hope you enjoyed the article
Also on an unrelated note, I realized you created your account on the website before I was even born :0
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29.06.2021 - 21:23
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by Lanthros on 29.06.2021 at 18:29

I stopped paying them any attention after wages of sin. They just weren't the same band for me any more. Nothing at all against Angela or Alissa, but Johan just had that spark that caught my attention.

They definitely went through quite a shift in style with wages of sin, I definitely understand your position since burning bridges is my favorite, but I do enjoy all 3 eras of the band, which is quite nice because that means more music to listen to haha
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29.06.2021 - 21:29
ickoriss

Love reading everyone's perspective on this band. Arch Enemy's one of the two key bands that got me into extreme metal (the other being Cradle of Filth), so they'll always be super special to me and were my favorite band throughout most of high school when I initially discovered them.

The Angela-era albums are special to me in particular, since Anthems was my first extreme metal record and Angela's probably my all-time favorite death metal vocalist. Something about her voice just does it for me and I wrecked my voice trying to mimic it for years and even though I couldn't get it down, I've definitely ripped off some of her vocal patterns and the way she enunciates certain words.

I've never understood the hate Rise of the Tyrant gets. I can get why it might not be everyone's favorite AE album, but I absolutely love it and have it tied as their crowning achievement, the other being Anthems. I've never had an issue with its production and I love how raw Angela's vocals sound, since it's much closer to how she sounds live.

I definitely agree that they should utilized Alissa's clean vocals more. That's what made her so great in The Agonist. I think both of the records they've done with her are good, just not near on the level as any of the Angela-era stuff.

Nonetheless, fun read and great article!
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29.06.2021 - 22:27
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by ickoriss on 29.06.2021 at 21:29

I've never understood the hate Rise of the Tyrant gets. I can get why it might not be everyone's favorite AE album, but I absolutely love it and have it tied as their crowning achievement, the other being Anthems. I've never had an issue with its production and I love how raw Angela's vocals sound, since it's much closer to how she sounds live.

[...]

Nonetheless, fun read and great article!

It's probably the weird shift in style to being so cheesy that didn't do it for me. Went for a more basic approach than what the previous two album had established and it happened to not be my jam, production / vocals issues aside.

Also I'm glad you enjoyed the article, as you said yourself it's pretty fun to see other people's opinions on bands you like, especially other fans, so I'm glad you took some time to write your comment, peace
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29.06.2021 - 23:01
Asat0r

Written by doez on 29.06.2021 at 21:21

Written by Asat0r on 29.06.2021 at 16:26

I haven't really listened to Arch Enemy in years, and they used to be one of my all time favorites. This inspired me to go back and listen to their discography, and I'm really enjoying it. I'm digging Rise of the Tyrant a lot more than I did when it came out. I definitely agree with the production, her voice is much more raw than it was on previous recordings.

Glad I made you come back to them! Hope you enjoyed the article
Also on an unrelated note, I realized you created your account on the website before I was even born :0


It was a great read, thanks for posting!

Also, ouch. That's brutal. I created this when I was in high school, probably close to your age now, and check the site periodically with rare posts.
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30.06.2021 - 00:18
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by Asat0r on 29.06.2021 at 23:01

Written by doez on 29.06.2021 at 21:21

It was a great read, thanks for posting!

Also, ouch. That's brutal. I created this when I was in high school, probably close to your age now, and check the site periodically with rare posts.

Hahaha sorry, didn't want to make you feel old, just something fun I noticed
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30.06.2021 - 00:21
Lanthros

Written by doez on 29.06.2021 at 21:23

Written by Lanthros on 29.06.2021 at 18:29

I stopped paying them any attention after wages of sin. They just weren't the same band for me any more. Nothing at all against Angela or Alissa, but Johan just had that spark that caught my attention.

They definitely went through quite a shift in style with wages of sin, I definitely understand your position since burning bridges is my favorite, but I do enjoy all 3 eras of the band, which is quite nice because that means more music to listen to haha

I can understand that. And I'm certainly not trashing what they've done since. At the end of the day it's all about what does it for each listener.
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30.06.2021 - 01:06
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by Lanthros on 30.06.2021 at 00:21

I can understand that. And I'm certainly not trashing what they've done since. At the end of the day it's all about what does it for each listener.

Exactly! No need to listen to music if you don't enjoy it, and if you do enjoy it then that's neat !
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30.06.2021 - 01:19
MetalDoomMaster

Great article, and totally agree that Burning Bridges is without a doubt a total banger. By far my favorite Arch Enemy record. Lilva's vocals were so raw and powerful.
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01.07.2021 - 12:53
Enemy of Reality

Getting into Arch Enemy is basically listening to the first 4 albums. Then enjoy the cheesiness of the mid-era Anthems/Doomsday Machine and after those forget all albums even exist.
Rating these is very easy:

1. Wages of Sin 9/10
2. Burning Bridges 9/10
3. Stigmata 8/10
4. Black Earth 8/10
5. Anthems of Rebellion 8/10
6. Doomsday Machine 7/10
7. Rise of the Tyrant 5/10
8. Will to Power 5/10
9. War Eternal 5/10
10. Khaos Legions 5/10
11. The Root of All Evil 4/10
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09.07.2021 - 05:31
Dream Taster
The Enemy Within
Great article, do check out this new band for an Angela Gossow retro sounding Arch Enemy revival:

Hiraes
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12.07.2021 - 23:55
nikarg
Mod
Finally, found the time to read this. It's a long read but definitely worth it even for someone who does not really like Arch Enemy. I am with those who prefer the Liiva period, although that is still not exactly my cup of tea. The guitar work is sick for sure.

My favourite album of the article is Crossing The Rubicon.

You should be proud, your writing style is easy and enjoyable to read, often humorous, and you have good structure. Well done, young lad, keep on writing and we will keep on reading!
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13.07.2021 - 11:48
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by nikarg on 12.07.2021 at 23:55

My favourite album of the article is Crossing The Rubicon.

It's definitely one of my favorite in there as well, really surprised me when I first listened to it, it's quite an awesome release

Written by nikarg on 12.07.2021 at 23:55

You should be proud, your writing style is easy and enjoyable to read, often humorous, and you have good structure. Well done, young lad, keep on writing and we will keep on reading!

Thank you a lot! I poured a lot of effort in that article and seeing how well received it is makes me unbelievably happy! I shall keep on writing for as long as I can
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13.07.2021 - 15:19
Darkside Momo
Retired
Written by nikarg on 12.07.2021 at 23:55

You should be proud, your writing style is easy and enjoyable to read, often humorous, and you have good structure. Well done, young lad, keep on writing and we will keep on reading!

Totally agree
Congrats, Doez, and keep it coming!
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I'm stealing back my soul
I am awake"
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