Reviewed: July 1999
Released: 1999, Century Media
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Listening to this album for the first time gave me the urge to run over to my neighbor’s house, ring the doorbell, and just thrash away on the air guitar when they answer the door! Arch Enemy is one of the best things to happen to death metal in the latter half of the ’90s. They’re like a death metal super-group that combines all of their influences to create some unique and very melodic music. So when word comes of a new album, your eyes can’t help but light up! This makes my review somewhat pointless, I mean, you’re going to buy the new album anyway right? Sure, but let me ramble anyway!
Stigmata was a big step forward from the debut album Black Earth. On Stigmata, Arch Enemy expanded their style, incorporating lots of different moods and influences, and injected tons of melody and beautiful guitar leads into their modern death metal to create one brutal masterpiece. Burning Bridges sounds like a compilation of leftover material from their previous two albums. Now this is by no means bad, as their previous two albums kill! It’s just that Arch Enemy doesn’t really present anything new style- and songwriting-wise. Again, this is good…if something isn’t broke, why fix it!? Plenty of obliterating Amott riffage is present, and together with Fredrik Nordstrom’s punishing production you have a devastatingly heavy album! And actually I am surprised at the amount of fast material, although there are no blast beats. With ex-Eucharist and original Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson back in the fold it would have been great to hear blast beats again, as he nails that stuff with such precision and conviction. Johan Liiva offers more variety this time, moving between his classic guttural belches to higher, blackened screeches. He truly delivers an impressive vocal performance! And in case you didn’t know, Sharlee D’Angelo (Witchery, Mercyful Fate) has joined in on bass! Although it’s too bad you can’t hear him.
Highlights would include “Silverwing”, with its fast and ferocious tempo, glorious chorus (“Fly on! Silverwing! Fly with me! Stay free! Silverwing!”), and nice soft breakdown during the lead section. Plus whenever Christopher writes (or writes most of) a song, it always tends to stand out the most for me. Thus we have “The Immortal”, another fast number and a perfect album opener. “Seed of Hate”, a more “upbeat” song, kicks so much ass you can’t help but raise both arms and give the metal sign when jamming to this song! I can hear Chris’ ’80s metal influences show here. Too bad Armageddon is history. Hey Chris: write some more!!! Finally, the title track closes the album in slow and somber doom and despair!
The Japanese version contains two bonus tracks. The first, a cover of Europe’s “Scream of Anger”, is a cool cover even though I never liked Europe. Power metaaaaall!! The second, “Fields of Desolation ’99”, is really pointless. Nothing is added to the song to make it different that the original version on their debut. But this track may have something to offer for those of you that don’t own the quite rare Black Earth album.
If Arch Enemy was a food, they would be your Mom’s hot baked bread…nice, fresh, and tasty! Do not hesitate! Get this album, and go play fucking air guitar on your neighbor’s front porch!
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