Thursday, September 15, 2011

Arch Enemy's recipie proving stale on Khaos Legions

So I'm not feeling the new Arch Enemy album. It's got its moments, but something about it just doesn't quite ring right. For those who haven't kept close tabs on the band, they've basically stuck to their guns ever since installing the always dynamic Angela Gossow as vocalist.

The result? Well... these Swedish/Gothenberg melodic metal outfits tend to have a limited shelf life, and Arch Enemy isn't exactly proving immune to that trend. There has admittedly been little evolution in the band, and it begs the question of how fresh Arch Enemy's idea well is.

The entire record is horribly one dimensional. Structure wise every song is virtually the same. The verses are heavy, raw, and thrashy, but every time there's always a noticeable shift in tempo that leads to a catchy melodic chorus. It sounds like a blatant attempt at commercialism. Granted, I'm a big advocate of melody in  metal, but I'm really not feeling the approach they went for here.

Interspersed between verses and choruses are a patchwork of nice little guitar leads and interludes that definitely create an Arch Enemy flavor, but even here it isn't pulled off as well as it has been in the past.  

Wages of Sin, for example, was absolutely crackling with intensity. It was taut, well edited, and smacked your eardrums with the force of a jet engine. And the guitar leads on that album were deeply inflected with a Gothenberg flavor, something wholly absent on this record. So clearly Arch Enemy doesn't display the same zest and zeal they once did. But does that make Khaos Legions a bad record?

Not exactly. Guitarists Michael and Christopher Amott certainly are still talented, and Gossow puts together a great performance as usual. There is also a common lyrical thread that ties most of the ablum together, as there is a focus on the theme of rebellion and defiance.

On the back of the album Gossow can be seen wearing a jacket with the words resist, rebel, reclaim on it, which sums up the spirit of the album pretty perfectly. She has the troops fired up for battle on "Under Black Flags We March," while she seethes at religion on "Bloodstained Cross." Not the most original topics in metal, but the personality she displays helps make it a little more original.

In the end, though, it's hard to call Khaos Legions as anything more than mediocre. "Through the Eyes of a Raven" is the only track I'm really excited about, as it features an absolutely spectacular backing riff behind the solo, and also has a sweet acoustic outro. The closer, "Secrets," is probably the most intense track, and therefore stands as another highlight (although I use the term loosely).

But the lack of variation causes all the songs to flow into another, and what you do get isn't the best work the band has done. It's certainly not bad, but if you're looking for a great metal disc you could do much better.

Score: 73/100

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