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I wasn’t sure what to make of the news that Arch Enemy were to re-record a mixture of tracks from their Johan Liiva-era albums, so as to have the unnatural vocals of Angela Gossow for newer fans (every time I hear her ‘sing’ I can’t help but think that there’s some poor guy out there somewhere with a woman’s singing voice in some sort of cruel mix up of nature), as well as boosted production duties.
The reason for my uncertain thoughts were mainly because I actually became a fan of Arch Enemy upon the release of Burning Bridges (after hearing “Demonic Science” on a Terrorizer magazine compilation CD), thus worked my way backwards from there. I did enjoy Angela’s first Arch Enemy album Wages of Sin (which I had to have imported from Japan at the time, as it didn’t have a European release back then). However, I felt they lost it big time with Anthems of Rebellion and Doomsday Machine, only to slightly redeem themselves with Rise of the Tyrant.
Thus, to curb my ramblings, I was quite happy with the original versions and actually quite liked Liiva’s vocals. Overall, I just didn’t feel the need for any re-recordings – quite like many a Destruction and Anthrax fan would’ve felt when they decided to re-record classic material too. Anyhow, having heard The Root of All Evil a good few times now, I can say it isn’t actually too bad at all. The songs are all re-created pretty much identically to the originals, albeit to my ears, with a looser more organic sound to the guitars (the originals sounded like they’d had the guitars overdubbed about a thousand times). One thing that has been overdubbed over and over in places are Angela’s vocals, with varied screams overlapping each other to make her sound not only unhinged, but really quite inhuman at times too. There’s a few little blink and you’ll miss it changes to solos here and there, but nothing that really stands out as being incredibly different or outlandish when held up in comparison to the originals.
Apart from the vocals and slightly better production (c’mon, lets face it – the original albums are only 10-15 years old anyway, their production wasn’t exactly horrific in the first place), there’s nothing more to mention really (bar a throwaway newly recorded intro track). As a bigger fan of older Arch Enemy material, I still prefer the originals and can’t see what the big deal is with people disliking Liiva’s original vocal work. But, Arch Enemy obviously saw it as a big enough deal to warrant this (or a big enough dollar sign/contractual obligation – one of the three).
Thus, if you really hated Liiva’s vocal work, and can’t live without Angela’s manly vocal cords being massaged into every inch of Arch Enemy’s catalogue, this will be mana from heaven for you – simply because the material IS that much better than the majority of Angela-era albums. The Root of All Evil is undoubtedly packed with the most excellent of Arch Enemy material, it just seems rather unnecessary. The material is more worthy than 56%, but this release is not.
Originally written for www.metalteamuk.net