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Arch Enemy
The Root of All Evil
December 2009
Released: 2009, Century Media
Rating: 2.0/5
Reviewer: Hanntu

So multi-platinum band Arch Enemy have decided to re-record some tracks from their first three albums with Angela Gossow, their singer for the best part of ten years now. Sounds like a case of Iced Earth-itis here, but whatever…For those of you who don’t know, Arch Enemy started out around the mid-90s as a cross between old-new Stockholm death metal and HEARTWORK-copycat melodic death with one Mr Liiva (ex-Carnage) at the mic. After three albums, Liiva was kicked out and Ms Gossow assumed singing/preening duties.

You really have to question the purpose of doing something like this. I mean, what’s to stop them from releasing high quality live versions of the old songs, rather than re-recording an entirely new album of old stuff? Anyway onwards and upwards. The only difference available to my ears are Angela’s vocals. The overall production is undoubtedly cleaner and slicker, and the guitars and drums do sound frigging awesome (albeit tuned up at least half a step). Messrs. Amott sound tight and sharp, and their lead guitar tone takes on almost Becker-esque warmth. The frantic buzz-y distortion (almost pseudo-early-90s-Swedeath) is gone, rounded out to an almost metalcore-ish production. It’s definitely in keeping with their latter nasty-but-clean image as one of the mainstream’s darlings of modern melodic death metal.

So, Angela. Johan Liiva was never the greatest of Swedish death metal frontmen, I think none of us would have a problem with saying that. Sounding rather unoriginal as a cross between a Barney Greenway and a less gruff LG Petrov, Liiva sounded average. On the good side of average, but still average nonetheless. But, without even being a die-hard fan of early Arch Enemy (or even Arch Enemy as a whole), I’d still rather listen to Liiva’s huffing and puffing than Angela’s over-processed growls.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen Angela live, and she can roar. I give credit to her for being one of the few female growlers out there, and she’s not as bad as a lot of haters make her out to be. But who are they trying to kid on THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL? Her vocals sound multi-tracked to hell, and over-produced to boot. Her diction doesn’t do the old songs justice, simply because Liiva could enunciate, and often did. Here the words are swallowed up by Gossow’s throaty RAO-YAO-RAO!! She sounds somewhat brutal, but in the Dani-Filth-wannabe-screamy brutal, whereas Liiva sounded like a rough-and-tumble redneck U-Haul driver. There’s too much yowling here for my liking, and the growling doesn’t amount to much either. There’s no life, no character in the vocals, and whatever intensity in there has either been artificially added or dampened by the slick production. Whatever it is, I’m not feeling the vibe.

This is Arch Enemy v. 2.0, and it’s not my thing. I guess they’re trying to alert their fanbase to the existence of the three albums prior to Angela – knowing the average age of their newer fanbase, this is probably a good move. But for the older fans, this release is pretty pointless, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the band and are (a) interested in hearing ‘Demonic Science’, ‘Diva Satanica’ and ‘Nightwing’ with cleaner and tighter performances from the Amotts (b) want to hear how Angela copes with the older stuff in the studio and (c) want to complete your Arch Enemy collection. For newer fans, this is probably the best way to get into the older stuff.

PS: Doing a bit more research on the album, I find out that Arch Enemy have already released remastered versions of STIGMATA and BURNING BRIDGES plus a ‘best-of’ called MANIFESTO OF ARCH ENEMY, all within this year of 2009. Okay, good luck balancing your bank account, you die-hard Arch Enemy fans.
Track Listing

1. The Root Of All Evil (Intro)
2. Beast Of Man
3. The Immortal
4. Diva Satanica
5. Demonic Science
6. Bury Me An Angel
7. Dead Inside
8. Dark Insanity
9. Pilgrim
10. Demoniality (Instrumental)
11. Transmigration Macabre
12. Silverwing
13. Bridge Of Destiny


Angela Gossow - vocals
Michael Amott - guitars
Chris Amott - guitars
Sharlee D'Angelo - bass
Daniel Erlandsson - drums

Next review: » Arch Enemy - Wages of Sin
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