ARCH ENEMY ON THE RISE
So let’s fucking talk about Arch fucking Enemy. This is a band that has put out awesome fucking album after awesome fucking albums for over a fucking decade now, yet still take shit from some people because their lead singer is a fucking chick (incidentally, a chick who I’m pretty sure could beat anyone of those shit talking motherfuckers to a pulp if they ever said “boo” to her face). These fucking people who cling to the fucking Johan Liiva era are like those fucking mo’rons who think Jesse Leech is coming back to KsE. Get fucked, dude.
So here Arch Enemy are, with Rise of the Tyrant – an album that should shut those people right the fuck up.
Arch Enemy don’t do a lot of things different from album to album, but they do somehow manage to do things better or worse than they have in the past. So I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the credit for Tyrant‘s success – I’ll say it now, if it’s the not best album the band has made with Gossow, it’s certainly the best one they’ve made with her since Wages of Sin – lies with producer Fredrik Nordström. This is the dude that did all of the band’s albums during the Liiva years, then walked out on producing the vocals on Sin in 2001 ’cause he couldn’t handle the idea of the singer having a vagina, leaving the position open for Andy Sneap to take over right until 2005’s Doomsday Machine. Nordström has now seen the error of his ways and re-upped as the band’s honorary sixth member.
But man oh man, was it worth the wait. Nordström is a fucking legend, and we don’t talk about him enough around here: forget Adam D., forget Suecof, forget Sneap or Richardson, forget Rick fucking Rubin – Nordström practically invented the Gothenburg sound. Your favorite albums by In Flames, Dark Tranquility, At the Gates, The Haunted, Opeth, Soilwork – this dude produced all of them. And he still has some tricks up his sleeve.
For one thing, Gossow doesn’t use any effects or filters on her vocals for a change. The result is that she just sounds fucking live and raw, like a bleeding slab of cold steak. Mmm, delicious. Yeah yeah yeah, there’s also a little less variance in her vox – but dude, she sounds scary angry. It’s not like she didn’t sound scary before; but this is some other level shit, and, frankly, it takes a little getting used to.
The guitars still sound plenty slick, though – but there’s a fuck’ve a lot more of ’em this go ’round. Part of that might be Nordström showing off – he mixed the damn thing, too, and pretty much perfectly, if I do say so myself – but some of it, to be sure, is just the Amott brothers having fun together. Christopher Amott, you’ll recall, left the band after the recording of Doomsday Machine, and even though he was away less than two years, this album just feels like he and brother Michael… unleashing. Seriously: there are wall to wall leads here, so many so that it can be a little dizzying upon an initial listen. There’s just no shortage of soaring, mournful, whiplash-inducing fret work. These dudes rule, and they have the balls to know they rule.
Once you settle in, though, this album is the shit. There’s no other way to describe it. And the second half is even better than the first: the choir on “The Great Darkness” is all fucking black metal and spooky, dude, and there’s one spot where Gossow squeals… it sounds like she’s crying for her very soul. “The Day You Died,” the operatic “Intermezzo Libre,” “Vultures,” “In This Shallow Grave”… sick. Just sick.
I really am just sitting here, laughing my ass off, because the riff that fuels “Night Falls Fast” is gonna make Vince jizz his jeans, and I know he hasn’t heard it yet, and it just makes me so happy to think about what his face is gonna look like when I play this for him.
ANYWAY… so this album is undeniably great, if just an ass hair shy of being, say, a Blackening-style instant masterpiece: after a while, it’s maybe just a wee too much, with not quite enough ambition, not quite enough thirst to stretch out and try something a little different, a little riskier. Then again, maybe I’m overthinking it. ‘Cause I can’t imagine not recommending this album to any metal fan, under any circumstances.
And if you’re still pissed about Angela Gossow: get the sand out of your vaj, grow a pair and get over it.
(four out of five stars)