Artist: Arch Enemy (http://www.archenemy.net)
Album: Doomsday Machine
Release Date: July 26th, 2005
Label: Century Media
Recommended Tracks: Taking Back My Soul, I Am Legend/Out For Blood, Hybrids of Steel, Machtkampf
You'd have to have been under under a rock with no TV inside of it to not know who Arch Enemy is these days. They have been plastered all over the covers of numerous metal magazines and placed in heavy rotation in various metal video shows, thanks in large part to the fact that their lead singer has a pair of breasts and a vagina. Pretty much every mainstream metal television show/magazine review writer is gonna be riding vocalist Angela Gossow's jock telling you this album is the greatest thing since the last time they jerked off in their mom's bra, but let me set the record straight - this album is pretty damn good at times, but it won't be the second coming of Slaughter of the Soul like MTV2, Revolver, Metal Maniacs etc. etc. will more than likely have you to believe.
Rising up from the carcass of Carcass, guitar fiend Michael Arnott wanted a vehicle for his sickly sweet riffs after the demise of his former band, and thus Arch Enemy was born. Brother and fellow guitarist Christopher Arnott, drummer Daniel Erlandsson, and vocalist/bassist Johan Liiva were recruited and put out album after album of quality catchy melodic death metal throughout the late 90's, but never really hit the big time until Liiva was replaced by the previously unknown female vocalist Angela Gossow and 8-feet tall former Witchery/Mercyful Fate bassist Sharlee D'Angelo for 2001's excellent Wages of Sin album. It was on Wages that the world was introduced to Gossow, whose raunchy growl and electric stage presence during live shows quickly garnered her a legion of fanboys and helped thrust Arch Enemy into the national metal consciousness.
Of course, with that came major label support and an inevitable screw-up of their original sound. Their follow-up album to Wages, 2003's Anthems of Rebellion, was a softened up and formulaic album designed to get them more mainstream acceptance a la the last two In Flames albums. Unfortunately that's still the case with the new album Doomsday Machine - you'll find yourself easily predicting when a breakdown is about to happen, when the chorus is about to kick in, or when the Arnotts are about to set off some dual guitar pyrotechnics. After yet another boring intro track (just like the last two albums - see what I mean by being predictable?), the album gets kickstarted with the vicious, thrashy "Taking Back My Soul", but unfortunately the rest of the album can't keep up the intensity of this song except for brief moments here and there. There are riffs galore in each and every song, which is an Arch Enemy trademark, but most of them get bogged down in the middle of uninspiring choruses or cookie-cutter metalcore, with the exceptioins being the recommended tracks listed above which rock from start to finish.
Furthermore, the lyrics on this album are, in a word, atrocious. Now normally lyrics aren't even an issue for a metal album because they're impossible to decipher in the first place, but this album has some of the corniest couplets this side of the crappy poetry you used to write to try to convince girls you were "sensitive" back in high school. Angela's unique growl is both a blessing and a curse, as it's cool to actually have a frontwoman who can growl with the big boys and still enunciate clearly, but like most women it sucks that we actually have to hear what's coming out of her mouth. Take the first single "Nemesis" for instance - the chorus goes something like "One for all, all for one/We are strong, we are one!" Yes, you read that correctly... Arch Enemy has resorted to ripping off the fucking Three Musketeers for lyrical content. I cringed shortly after hearing that line for the first time because it's so awful and embarassing for me as a fan of metal just to hear something like that actually growled in a song, and unfortunately there are several other verbal mis-steps throughout the whole album. In fact, the best song on the album may be the instrumental "Hybrids of Steel", which is a refreshing 4-minute break from the lyrical silliness near the end of the album and really showcases the chops of the dueling Arnott brothers.
I really, really wanted to like this album more than I have after these first five or six listens through it, but it just isn't happening so far. Maybe at some point I'll be able to get over the cheesy lyrics and the overall color-by-numbers performance because almost every song does have a killer riff or two in it or something else interesting going on, but unfortunately it's all offset by the problems mentioned above (hence, a score of 5). There's nothing really bad about this album (except for some of the lyrics), as it is well played and has crystal clear production, there's just nothing really spectacular about it either. This album is definitely head and shoulders above 2003's Anthems of Rebellion, but falls well short of Wages of Sin and the band's superior earlier pre-Angela albums, although I do recommend catching their live act as they come off a lot heavier live and it's fun to see Angela do her best impression of a Mexican jumping bean trapped inside a Coke can while she's bouncing around on stage. If you're a diehard Arch Enemy fan, or an Angela fanboy, or your hobbies include trying to pick up wannabe fat goth chicks at your local Hot Topic on weekends you're definitely gonna want to check this out, otherwise there is just a lot more and much better metal out there just waiting to be discovered outside of the comfort zone of Headbanger's Ball and Uranium. Get out there and find it! One for all! All for one!
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Artist: Arch Enemy (http://www.archenemy.net)