Review Summary: An attempt to surpass the past and add another nail in Johan Liiva’s coffin...
The cyclical debate of Angela Gossow’s superiority to Johan Liiva in Arch Enemy’s vocal division will unquestionably be taken to the grave. It’s an aged squabble that left fans divided on 2001’s Wages of Sin
, only to be made successful by cutting edge instrumentation inscribed on earlier stones. Liiva is certainly departed, but there’s a revived significance in this argument during The Root of All Evil
. In a year where they’ve elegantly compiled a greatest hits of music from 2001 onward through Manifesto of Arch Enemy
, resourcefully reissued (though not unexpectedly) their first three albums, they’ve also gone in so far as releasing this: a best of compilation of those same three with Gossow manning (or womaning) the helm with alleged conviction. Unsurprising are its intentions: for those who remain partial to the dissimilarities between young and old sounds. Such fans are quite possibly the easiest to convert, but are also the ones who need this darkened mistress from the south to prove an ability of doing justice to old pieces.
But already, the individual internet releases have painted a pitiable image for Angela’s act here. Showing that diverse percussiveness and accentuation are as important to her as making the performance sky-high above Liiva’s is a lost battle from the get go. She’s possibly at her best (dare I say) screeching as opposed to bellowing confided in inhuman territory, but this also begs the question. Why? Angela, you don’t sound anymore wicked here.
The Amott brothers now have the arduous task of contending with a messy vocal line, and unfortunately while their music is predominantly identical to their original castings, the tone is muffled and the form overly measured. Their self produced grit sounds closer to duelling guitars in a tapered wooden box that Andy Sneap fails to conceal. Furthermore, raising themselves from the earlier B to a higher C tuning paradoxically creates little piercing energy that makes you consider how such a progression would sound lifeless (compare “Silverwing” ’99 to ‘09
as an epitome to this). Other questions go unreciprocated. Why faintly slow the tempo during songs like “The Immortal”
, “Dead Inside”
which salivate over aggressive momentum in all departments? Why deviate from the originals to add an unnecessary bridge or half time outro just for the sake of being ‘diverse’?
It’s by retyping the heady day tunes “Diva Santanica”
, “Bridge of Destiny” “Bury Me an Angel”
and “Beast of Man”
that show Enemy at their best -- the latter of which tones this album deceivingly well at number one via a droning tremolo and mechanical ride cymbal. From here it could be argued that once settled in, most will find something tangible to enjoy here in the confines of a certain selected tracks. The performances are without doubt quality overall, but increasingly suffer from other aforementioned factors; tone, tempo and temperament. Whether or not Gossow is the best thing that ever happened to Arch Enemy still doesn’t offer authenticity to the reasoning behind this.