Arch Enemy
Burning Bridges


3.5
great

Review

by Dan Smith USER (74 Reviews)
November 7th, 2005 | 36 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist


What is it about the Japanese? They hve one of the most weird and quirky cultures with music to match (and yes I am speaking from experience, I've been there), yet they fully embrace countless metal bands and make them international stars, when the rest of the world turns a blind eye.

Arch Enemy were in this position circa 1999. Ex-Carcass man Michael Amott had formed the band some 5 or so years before and they had released two well-received (in the European underground metal scene) albums which helped to define the Melodic Death genre which Carcass had spawned with 1993's "Heartwork," yet the only country where the band were truly getting the headlining shows mass-adoration and recognition they deserved was Japan.

"Burning Bridges" didn't really change this situation, which is a shame, because it is among their most focussed work to date (only rivalled, IMO by its successor "Wages Of Sin" which incedentally, was the first album to gain the band wider recognition throughout Europe and eventually the USA). It was also their last album to feature the quite frankly scary vocal talents of Johan Liiva.

Those familiar with latter-day Angela Gossow-fronted Arch Enemy may find the former's vocals hard to deal with. I personally think they are on a par with Angela's. Whereas Angela has a very strong delivery, Johan tore his tonsils clean out in every song, and had a much more aggressive vocal style (the only comparison I can think of would be Peter Dolving of The Haunted, but rougher). The only downside is that on a few songs, he appears to unleash a torrent of words that don't quite fit, almost as though he is cramming as many words into one space as possible. Sometimes this works well, sometimes not so well, but it always makes for a varied and interesting listen.

The guitar work is pretty much what defines Arch Enemy, and on "Burning Bridges" there is much more variation than on the albums the band has released since. There are crushing riffs, such as the one which kicks the album out of the speakers with "The Immortal" and truly jaw-dropping solos, in the aforementioned opening track, (just when you think it's all about to spiral out of control, everything comes together again in a huge melodic orgasm of a second solo!) "Seed Of Hate," "Angelclaw," and "Silverwing" to give but a few examples. The Amott brothers' ability to harmonise is absolutely second to none, a trait most noticable in the nifty descending intro licks of "Angelclaw" but present almost everywhere in the albums eight impressive tracks.

Like most metal albums the bass is fairly nondescript, but Sharlee does a good job of providing a solid backbone to the Amott brother's guitars, and complimenting the amazing drumming skills of Daniel Erlandsson (who, incedently gets a solo of his own in the intro to "Pilgrim"). Of course, all these musical joys would be in vain if they were rendered in crappy sound quality, but thankfully this is not the case, as the team of Frederik Nordstrom and Mike Amott do a cracking job.

There is also an element of the unexpected in the form of the epic, doomy title track which brings the album to a close. An unusual choice for Arch Enemy, and not one that necessarily suits them well, but its good to see experimentation pushing the genre forward (these guys are arguably the leaders) and an interesting twist to end the album.

If any criticism can be levelled at "Burning Bridges," it is that the lyrics are a bit of a let-down. The content seems to be split half and half: half good quality lyrics, and half cheese. This doesn't leave too much of a bad taste though.

So...

PROS
+ Amazing musical skill from all of the band.
+ Some great melodies.
+ More agressive than their later work.
+ Great production.

CONS
+ Occasionally ropey lyrics
+ Although arguably as good as Angela's, Johan's vocals may be an acquired taste for some.

Overall, this is definitely an album worth getting if you have even a passing interest in Death Metal, or just good guitar-based music, and is definitely some of Arch Enemy's finest pre-Angela Gossow work.

3.5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
spoon_of_grimbo
November 7th 2005


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can't believe I'm the first one to review this! I've heard people raving about how good it is!

24.05.2008 - In a recent re-evaluation of my reviews, I've changed the rating for this album from a 4.5 to a 3.5.This Message Edited On 05.23.08

Shadows
Moderator
November 7th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, but I disagree with it. This was definitely a step down from their earlier stuff. This can't hold a candle to Stigmata or Black Earth. The music was still damn good, but it was obvious they were fading. Johan's voice also sounded much higher here than before, whivch was weird. He'll always be better than Angela though.

spoon_of_grimbo
November 7th 2005


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i havn't heard black earth or stigmata yet, aside from the odd song or two, but if theyre better than this, i better check them out, like yesterday!

Dead_Trench
November 7th 2005


159 Comments


Why does it go like this:
Pros
+ ...
+ ...

Cons
+ ...
+ ...
?

Cons usually use this symbol, -.

Shadows
Moderator
November 7th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't think that's what he meant. I use dashes ( - ) to signify everything, so I think he was doing the same thing, but with a different symbol.

spoon_of_grimbo
November 8th 2005


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

well i used asterisks to start with and that looked crap so i used the nearest thing to bullet points i could find lol!


canadapantsman
February 8th 2006


236 Comments


ive heard demonic science, and i didnt like it at all

bizzare6543
February 12th 2006


2 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is easily their best album. Johan vocals are much better than Angela's, IMO.

I love Asa!
March 15th 2006


10 Comments


Demonic science is kinda good.

I love Asa!
March 15th 2006


10 Comments


well to me it is
but i guess you have a diffrent opinion on that song


Shattered_Future
March 15th 2006


1540 Comments


Ergh, I hate Johan's voice on this release. He lost his low end growl, and replaced it with something even MORE irritating.

The music seems really uninspired too. There are some gems on here, but overall it's kinda lame...

Drunken Viking
March 15th 2006


1023 Comments


Worst Arch Enemy album. ^Is that why he was replaced.

k4t4lyst
June 13th 2006


201 Comments


I dunnoe why, but I like Angela's vocals slightly more than Johan's, but I like both of them.This Message Edited On 06.13.06

Yazz_Flute
April 4th 2007


18802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very good album, the immortal and pilgrim kick ass.This Message Edited On 04.05.07

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Bleak123
August 16th 2008


1902 Comments


Angela is a better vocalist than Johan.

Aeksis8745
February 25th 2009


448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This blows anything they've done with Angela so far out of the water. The music is just at a higher level here, yes the vocals did get better with Angela but they sacrificed the music for it I guess.

JonasJH
November 22nd 2009


12 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This album is okay, But "Silverwing" ruined it for me.

Becouse the intro in Silverwing is basicly the intro in Dark Tranquillity - Punish My Heavan , but just played in a slower pace...

pride
December 12th 2009


227 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't particularly like the vocals on this but they dont irritate me either. Sounds kinda like a hardcore shout.

TheSpirit
April 4th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

best arch enemy album

Digging: Wreodan Heahl - Laecig

StormChaser
August 10th 2010


342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Their best work, absolutely brilliant. A classic work of melodic death metal. Liiva at his best.



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