Review Summary: It's a lack of creativity that makes Khaos Legions such a difficult album to listen to.
Everything you need to know about Khaos Legions
is nicely summed up in the first three songs debuted by Arch Enemy over the last couple months. "Yesterday Is Dead and Gone" emphasizes individuality and freedom. "Bloodstained Cross" is a song about how god isn't real. And of course, "No Gods, No Masters" has something to do with individuality and freedom from a god that doesn't exist. If this sounds familiar, it's because this is blueprint Arch Enemy has spent the past decade following. If such themes were ever particularly inspiring, their continuous regurgitation has rendered them uninteresting. While vocalist Angela Gossow rasping "All the prayers in the world/won't help you now" in "Bloodstained Cross," may have sounded edgy eight years ago when Arch Enemy was the first death metal band you listened to, in 2011 it's stale. Put simply, Khaos Legions
doesn't say anything that hasn't been said roughly the same way over the past four or five albums.
Likewise, Khaos Legions
recycles the same musical ideas that listeners were subject to on Rise of the Tyrant
, Anthems of Rebellion
, and virtually every other second-rate melodeath album released since the turn of the century. Guitarists Michael and Christopher Amott are often credited as being skilled players, and while this may be true, they don't do very much with it. Gossow highlights Arch Enemy's major shtick (there is a woman
fronting a death metal
band), but once you get over that, the band has very little to separate them from their peers. At its best, Khaos Legions
is standard, barely passable melodeath faire; a song like "Bloodstained Cross" somewhat catchy, if unmemorable. At its worst, Khaos Legions
is a mess of ideas haphazardly thrown together. Too much of the record features ill-advised tempo changes, inane, out of place soloing that is supposed to sound impressive but instead sounds tacky. "Through the Eyes of a Raven" is the worst offender, offering a bizarre hodgepodge of slow grooves, monotonous melodeath clichés, and an instrumental section that sounds as though it was lifted from an Iron Maiden song from the 1980s. It's a frustratingly incohesive record for a band that has previously released seven.
Detractors frequently cite Angela Gossow as being the weak link in Arch Enemy. While her efforts behind the mic certainly do not help (ranging from merely overproduced to downright ridiculous), the problems with Khaos Legions
run deeper. Arch Enemy seem content with resting on their laurels, and while that may please the kind of fans who are upset that In Flames haven't be repackaging Whoracle
for the past ten years, it ultimately lacks substance. It's this lack of creativity that makes Khaos Legions
such a difficult album to listen to; the band's seeming unwillingness to address these problems makes it difficult to care.