Wednesday, November 28, 2007

He's A God Now!

Arch Enemy - Rise of the Tyrant

Arch Enemy have blown me away with great live performances twice in a year now, and I've finally gotten around to getting some of their music on record.

At their heart Arch Enemy are a straightforward kick ass thrash band. Rise of the Tyrant bursts out of the gate ferociously and doesn't let up for the full running time of the album (save for a misguided mellow instrumental towards the end that it would be uncharitable to dwell on). The rhythm section hammers away with an energetic viciousness that more than makes up for the fact that we've all heard this kind of thing done many times before, and the raw, exposed (but polished) production gives it a punkish kind of urgency. The first guitar contrasts the thrash with more restrained, classic rock style leads that tend toward the epic and melancholy. A tasteful touch of choirs and synths is added here and there help to keep things interesting. And of course in true thrash metal tradition there's plenty of wild soloing to be found, which on this album evokes the styles of both Slash from Gunners and Terrance from Suffocation (a pairing which is much more successful than you might expect).

As is the order of the day in metal currently political allegory is all over this album, and unlike so many of their peers Arch Enemy actually know how to do a real allegory. There are few overt statements to be found, just smartly ambiguous references to the scenario of the albums title and an inspired choice of audio sample (from the movie Caligula) to open the title track.

Of course Arch Enemy's true point of difference is vocalist Angela Gossow, a petite blonde capable of grunting out death metal bellows with the best of her male counterparts. Curiously enough her voice on the album sounds less brutal than when I've heard her 'sing' live, but it's still fucking impressive! Her guttural howls may be higher in pitch than is conventional for a death metal band but there is something far eviller about this vocal style when it comes from a woman. A guy doing death metal growling is always on some level engaging in testosterone driven macho posturing, but when a woman is forcing such unholy noises out of herself, there's no question that it's all purely in the service of evil and for the glory of Satan.

Here's the official video for 'Revolution Begins':

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