Arch Enemy was founded in 1995 by ex-carcass guitarist Michael Ammot and his younger brother Christopher. Johan Liiva joined as the vocalist soon after.
Unlike Arch Enemy’s current vocalist, Angela Gossow, Liiva’s vocals almost aren’t even harsh vocals. He actually really just screams, not deep or raspy really, just very aggressively. His vocal stylings are very interesting, and do work on some songs, but i overall feel that Gossow’s vocals are better, as Liiva’s get very annoying sometimes.
Of course, the guitars are really what shine. Michael and Christopher Ammot are two of the best guitarists out there, and among the top in harmonizing, soloing as well. Throughout the 35 minutes of this album, they lay down some breakneck solos and amazing harmonized leads. Save the doom metalish title track, every track is a shredfest, amazingly fast, and very catchy for the most part. The opening track, The Immortal
is quite easily the best track here, it also the only song in which Liiva’s vocals really don’t annoy me in any point of the song. The song starts with an all on assault with each of the instruments, an aggressive guitar riff is played with even more aggressive drumming. The chorus has some infectious licks in it as well.
About midway through the song, we are introduced to what Arch Enemy does best: soloing. The Ammot brothers immediately thrust the listener into some of the best harmonized solos ever, full of melody and aggression. Each song (save the title track) features many of these amazing solos. The track Pilgrim,
which is the next best on the album is basically built around solos. every time there isn’t a verse, there is an incredible solo raging forth. It even starts with a drum solo from Daniel Erlandsson, which propels the listener straight into four and a half minutes of madness. The chorus, which is probably the catchiest on the record also features a solo as Liiva screams, adding to the amazement of it.
Seed of hate
is also an amazing song, which starts with another amazingly catchy and melodic riff. During the verses, the song actually mellows out a bit, with clean guitars and Liiva basically whispering. The harmonized leads following the chorus are more melodic treats to the ears.
Aside from the great songs, there are a few let downs. Angelclaw
opens with a promising ascending riff, but then turns into a bit of boring listen, with basically recycled riffing. The title track is also a bit boring, as it was definitely stretched out too long. The last two minutes of it is the same slow, doomy riff repeated as it slowly fades out. The whole song rarely changes actually, which isn’t a problem at first, but soon turns extremely boring.
Still, the good outweigh the bad here. As mentioned before, seven of the eight tracks features harmonized riffing and soloing at its best. The drumming is consistantly strong, and never seems too recycled or bland. I’ve never really listened for the bass on this album, but like most albums of the genre, it provides a strong backbone to the music.
As for the cons, the only one i can really see is Liiva’s vocals. Take for instance, the song Dead Inside.
It’s one of the more in the middle songs on the album, only because Liiva’s vocals really seem messed up during the majority of the song. It’s not horribly out of place, it’s just annoying, and quite hard to describe why it’s so annoying. Aside from his vocals, and the occasional recycled riff, the only other con is the length of the album. At only 35 minutes, it’s a very quick listener, and could’ve had one or two more songs, but the album overall seems fine where it is.
This is a great album overall, and could’ve been even better if Liiva’s vocals were a little bit more tolerable.
Final Rating: 3.75/5