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Arch Enemy
Khaos Legions
May 2011
Released: 2011, Century Media
Rating: 2.0/5
Reviewer: Demonator

Describe Arch Enemy to someone whose idea of heavy music draws to an abrupt halt at the mention of Bon Jovi, and they'll think that you're talking about any self-respecting death metalhead's wet dream. Swathes of technical riffing and fleet-fingered solos? Arch Enemy's mantra since day one. Throat-searing vocals, pummeling drum lines? A given - replete with the sort of glossy production typically reserved for the genre elite. And yet, with the exception of 2005's DOOMSDAY MACHINE, I have found their every trip to the studio abhorrent.



The reasons for this are manifold, not least of all their inability to conjure up an even vaguely malicious atmosphere. Where a sense of danger is virtually omnipresent in a band like Immolation, Arch Enemy strikes me as manufactured extremity for juveniles, and nowhere is that more clearly underlined than on their eighth full length's opening instrumental. Here a guitar lead is interrupted by a hokey narrator announcing: 'From the ashes of a corrupt and dying world, they rise like a phoenix, a godless entity, they are the KHAOS LEGIONS!" Concepts and artistic license aside - that sort of shit sounded hackneyed and lame a decade ago. In 2011 it's embarrassing.



Respite comes by way of the very promising first track, "Yesterday Is Gone" - suggesting that the idea to re-team with producer Rickard Bengtsson may have been an inspired one. Accompanied by a hulking riff, and accentuated by a stunningly catchy chorus, Angela Gossow's raspy vocals in particular sound bang on on target. Sadly no such heights are scaled anywhere else on the album however. "Bloodstained Cross" is an anti-religious whinge that makes early Deicide sound introspective, set to well-performed but ultimately uninspiring and too-typical melodic death metal. Both "Under Black Flags We March" and "No Gods No Masters" slow things down considerably, showing off more traditional influences, but once again providing little by way of anything remotely fresh or exciting.



And that's really the problem here; as much as Arch Enemy are actually quite good at what they do, KHAOS LEGIONS finds them sounding just as boring and predictable as they've always been - a shame given the album's early promise. Some may find comfort in that sameness; I unfortunately can not.
Track Listing

1. Khaos Overture
2. Yesterday Is Dead and Gone
3. Bloodstained Cross
4. Under Black Flags We March
5. No Gods, No Masters
6. City of the Dead
7. Through The Eyes of a Raven
8. Cruelty Without Beauty
9. We Are a Godless Entity
10. Cult of Chaos
11. Thorns in My Flesh
12. Turn to Dust
13. Vengeance Is Mine
14. Secrets
15. The Zoo
16. Snow Bound

Lineup

Angela Gossow − Vocals
Michael Amott − Guitar
Christopher Amott − Guitar
Sharlee D'Angelo − Bass
Daniel Erlandsson − Drums
Per Wiberg − Keyboards


Next review: » Arch Enemy - Khaos Legions
Previous review: » Arch Enemy - Doomsday Machine

Arch Enemy
Khaos Legions
July 2011
Released: 2011, Century Media
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

I’ll state it up front, I’m not the world’s greatest Arch Enemy fan. I’ve enjoyed the band over the years, seen them half a dozen times but I don’t run out and buy the albums the minute they hit the store shelves. As an old-timer in the metal scene I don’t buy the hype that Angela is the most extreme front-woman etc, etc, etc. I slightly prefer pre-Angela Arch Enemy but I’m certainly not opposed to what the band has done in the past 10 years.



I always approach a new Arch Enemy album with an open mind but after several successive albums that did not excite me I slowly relegated the band to a lower status in my personal hierarchy of listening importance. I think that the band has really benefitted from the return of Christopher Amott. Although he returned just before the band entered the studio to record RISE OF THE TYRANT, I don’t believe his song-writing presence was really felt in those sessions. Accordingly, this is the first album in four years that Chris has really had an impact on. I feel he brought back a much-needed ‘Metal’ element to Khaos. The past few albums had been tainted (not ruined, just tainted) with too many ‘core’ elements and a hyper-kinetic, red-lined, red-hot, production that buried the riffs and songs. This is the first album in many years to get back to a truly Metal feel.



In addition, the band had been really productive in the past decade. Arch Enemy had put out 10 releases in 10 years, and personally think the band was burnt out and it showed in the songwriting of the past few records. The four-year break since RISE OF THE TYRANT really helped the band bring back some of that creativity, and the addition of Chris Amott back into in the writing team, and the change in producer, all combined to make a very, very strong album. In fact this might be my favorite Arch Enemy yet.



There are a variety of tempos and styles on this album. I’ve read a few reviews that said this is basically a Power Metal album, which while is inaccurate I can see why a die hard Death Metal fan might say that. The riffs are better, the acoustic interludes are great, and the songs are more dynamic and interesting. The guitar solos just kill as well! This is likely their most diverse and dynamic album in a long time. The lack of intense speed might have people saying it’s too mellow but I don’t agree, it’s still heady stuff. Angela also sings a little more on this record, having proven what she needed to prove on the first few, namely she can go toe-to-toe with any guy in terms of brutality. Now, thankfully she can concentrate on singing a bit more.



If you are like me and have been mildly disappointed or unimpressed by the past three or four albums (Angela-era) by Arch Enemy, the new album, KHAOS LEGIONS is the one you want to listen to and really give it a fair chance. I’m glad I did.
Track Listing

1. Khaos Overture
2. Yesterday Is Dead and Gone
3. Bloodstained Cross
4. Under Black Flags We March
5. No Gods, No Masters
6. City of the Dead
7. Through the Eyes of a Raven
8. Cruelty Without Beauty
9. We Are A Godless Entity
10. Cult of Chaos
11. Thorns in My Flesh
12. Turn to Dust
13. Vengeance Is Mine
14. Secrets

Lineup


Angela Gossow Vocals
Michael Amott Guitars
Christopher Amott Guitars
Sharlee D'Angelo Bass
Daniel Erlandsson Drums

Contact

N/A


Next review: » Arch Enemy - Stigmata
Previous review: » Arch Enemy - Doomsday Machine





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