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There's 2 periods to Arch Enemy: The Johan Liiva early days and the more modern Angela Gossow days. This is her first album with the band. I didn't buy the last album as i'd got bored of this band by then. However, this album is a near classic of melodic death metal. The early stuff is ok but i've never been a massive fan. The musicianship is excellent but Johan's voice is bland and the songwriting just wasn't as good. 'Wages of Sin' is the first album where the Amott brothers really stepped up to the top level.
Michael Amott has history with melodic death metal from his time with Carcass. Angela is a known fan of Carcass and does her best to sound like Jeff Walker. This has led to many unfair criticisms of Arch Enemy being a mere Carcass clone. Although the influence is there, i'd say AE are much more melodic and safe. I say safe because after this album AE pretty much copied this blueprint for 5 albums to varying degrees of success. This album not only benefits from being the first of the new era, but also from a solid but not overdone production. Crisp and punchy without being too shiny.
The album starts with a creepy piano intro leading into 'Enemy Within' and then the riff-fest begins. The Amotts wheel out riff after riff on this album and most of them are great. I especially like the monstrous, near-doom riff of 'Savage Messiah' and it adds a nice change of pace to the album. Solos are also exceptional as you'd come to expect from these lads. They can play so well they should've had their own Guitar Hero spin-off! Easily one of the best guitar partnerships in the history of metal.
Daniel Erlandsson capably handles the drums. He may not be the best drummer out there but his playing suits this style of music perfectly and he gets the job done. Same goes for Sharlee's bass playing, solid and dependable. he even gets a bass solo on 'Dead Bury Their Dead'! Angela's vocals can be a little monotonous after a while but they are certainly venomous and deliver these lyrics with real force.
The album goes a little flat after track 6 but only down to a level of decent as opposed to rubbish. Then we get a short instrumental, 'Snow Bound' with a nice guitar lead and suddenly we're hit with the album highlight 'Shadows and Dust'. Michael Amott's guitar solo is one of my favourites of all time, just fantastic fretwork.
My version of this album has a bonus track which is nothing special, but also a disc of rarities from the Johan era. 3 cover versions and 4 rare tracks from Japanese releases. All are of a reasonable quality and you've probably never heard Judas Priest like this before!
i rate this album very highly, its appeal hasn't worn off despite the band no longer exciting me. A top quality Swedish melodeath album.
Recommended tracks: Enemy Within, Heart of Darkness, Savage Messiah, Dead Bury Their Dead, Shadows and Dust
There are some bands that have stuck fairly close to the original death metal template, to the point that they are frequently accused of releasing virtually the same album over and over (some have levied this charge at Cannibal Corpse), but what is that original template anyway? Is it the just shy of thrash metal, all fast all the time character of the early Death albums spearheaded by a toneless grunt in Chuck Schuldiner rather than a tonal yet often limited shouter? Or is it the albums of the early 90s where things were slightly progressive in character, of which Death is also a major player? Which ever case may be, the advent of the Gothenburg melodeath trifecta and its affiliates brought in a somewhat different answer, so much so that some dismiss the style as being something other than death metal.
Arch Enemy, a project that rose out of the demise of Carcass, conformed fairly closely to the mid 90s Gothenburg paradigm. It took on an almost power metal character meshed with an archaic nod to the formulaic, fast and heavily Slayer infused early Death albums in "Scream Bloody Gore" and "Leprosy", while also bringing in an equally fierce lead guitar barrage via the Amott brothers, who are equal, if not somewhat superior in their ability to cut heads to Schuldiner and his various co-axe wielders. In fact, the principle thing that excluded this band from being a full out Gothenburg cliche was the less sepulchral, more hardcore oriented shouts of Johan Liiva, a vocal character bearing more similarity to early Possessed or Kreator than any of the seminal Florida or Swedish death metal vocalists of note. With his exodus and the entry of the auspicious person of Angela Gossow came something closer to the nasty, quasi-blackened character embodied in Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates.
"Wages Of Sin" could be likened to better version of the last couple of In Flames albums before their stylistic departure a year after this came out, and with a more competent screamer. Yet at the same time, it's a bit faster and closer to the thrashing character of more aggressive acts that still manage to be melodic. It's nestled somewhere between the chaotic rage of "Deathrace King" and the somber agony of "Clayman", all the while outclassing both in the guitar shredding department to the point of rivaling Dream Theater. A few listens to "Enemy Within", "Ravenous" and "The First Deadly Sin" showcases a brilliant merging of darkness, melodic contour, and aggression that is worthy of any extreme metal's attention, yet also not wholly beyond the realm of someone who doesn't normally venture beyond the level of extremity put forth on a standard Amon Amarth album. There also seems to be a slight nod to Iced Earth nestled at the beginning of the album (which sounds fairly similar to the intro of "Burnt Offerings") and the brief melodic serenade "Snow Bound" which conjures up images of a slightly less agitated Malmsteen ballad/instrumental.
The superiority of this album to subsequent works with Angela Gossow at the helm is mostly a result of this still having one foot firmly placed in the older side of the Gothenburg equation where the modern rock presence was minimal and the aesthetic was a bit colder and otherworldly. The production is a bit choppy, in part due to the clicking bass drum clashing somewhat with the heavier, bass heavy guitar tone. It's almost to the point that despite Gossow's presence, this album is more in the realm of the 3 with Liiva at the helm. Anyone with a taste for the 90s Gothenburg scene should like this, though it does have a bit of crossover appeal to harder edged listeners who want a harder stomp and less pomp.
This one takes me back to being around sixteen. Wages of Sin tends to be the favorite where the majority are concerned with the Arch Enemy back catalogue. After Johan Liiva parting ways with the Amott's and co, the band hired femme fatale Angela Gossow, who sparked the whole "fucking hell, no way is that a lass singing" thing.
While I will always prefer Johan's stylings, Angela was hardly a bad choice and her vocals are a venomous, vitriolic growl, that without prior knowledge probably could fool anyone regarding gender. Fredrik Nordström's production gave the band a much bigger, clearer production and as a result Wages of Sin was Arch Enemy's most modern sounding release (at the time).
The album is packed with clicking double kick drums, and heavy yet glossed guitars. When compared with the bands previous opus, Wages of Sin sounds like a macho power metal album. "Enemy Within" kicks in with an open string lead guitar line, before exploding into low end thumping. Everything the would characterize the second half of Arch Enemy's career can be found here. "Burning Angel" is one of the bands finer numbers, and again has quite a bit in common with the power metal style, Michael Amott's wah pedal infested guitar leads are out in force here. Fan favorite "Ravenous" established the blazing double kicking Arch Enemy track, this set a formula that the band would utilize on just about every post Wages of Sin release. Furious speed for two verses, broken up with a Chris Amott trem abusing pyrotechnical break, melodic chorus, rinse repeat, intense guitar solo - you know the score.
The latter half of the album is a little heavier, introduced via the post thrash stylings of "Dead Bury their Dead". "The First Deadly Sin" and "Web of Lies" are two of the bands more furious odes, with the former having some great guitar work. Wages of Sin isn't without its share of duds though, the almost Nu-metal edge to "Behind the Smile" is an entirely skippable affair, and "Savage Messiah" stands as a poor mans version of the closing dirge of the previous albums title track.
Fortunately the band unleash maybe the albums finest track at the end, "Shadows and Dust" is Arch Enemy at their finest, with great yet simplistic riffs and some quality themes. All in all Wages of Sin is a quality yet somewhat uneven release. The killer here really does fucking kill, and the album houses some of Arch Enemy's finest tracks. However the filler blows, and as a result I rarely spin this album in its entirety. Wages of Sin is a noteworthy release in both Arch Enemy's career, and of course the whole Gothenburg scene. A flawed modern classic at best.
By far, Arch Enemy's first 3 releases in my opinion are their best. This is the only album by the band where I can tolerate Angela Gossow's vocal outputs. Johan Liiva, their previous vocalist, was for the most part, the most well suited for the band. His voice didn't drown out the melodic guitar riffs. He was supposedly kicked out of the band for failing to perform well during Arch Enemy's live performances. Damn shame.
The opening features soft piano bits which then segues into the band's march of awesome melodic death metal. There are so many riffs that really stand out here, but some clean guitar that I didn't think too highly of. The music throughout the album is filled with bits of melodies which are stunning and captivating. What caught me the most was track 2 entitled "Burning Angel."
Angela's hoarse throat on here is still annoying, but less so then more recent releases. On here, she doesn't use many vocal effects to block out the Amott's keen guitar. Her voice is hoarse, but not so hoarse that you can't hear the music. It's very difficult to have the band relying on her as the lead vocalist. As I've previously mentioned, her voice bothers the hell out of me.
There are many segments of music on here that is quite original and sticks to you, as "Burning Angel" does for me. A good follow up from "Burning Bridges", but not as worthy as that album is for me. I'd say for most of the album with exceptions didn't impact me very much mainly because of the vocals and a lot of the guitars are just aren't as good.
A lot of the wah-pedal was used by Michael Amott and was good on some songs, but I think that he used it a little bit too much. Christopher Amott's leads aren't as striking as on previous albums. I think that most of the riffs are good, however, they could've been better than they actually were on here. The guitars could've meshed better with Angela's throat. I don't think that they put in enough time to weave in the guitars with the voice.
As far as the production goes, I'd say that all of the instruments were well mixed in together to the point to where you can hear everything. The bass guitar could've been a bit louder, but you still can hear it some. Angela's vocals aren't as loud on here, so you can still hear the guitars. I'd say that the guitars could've been a bit chunkier like on "Stigmata."
This release is a good output and worth getting. I've waived out some things that needed to be discussed discreetly so you know what to expect. To me, the last good Arch Enemy release definitely legitimately investing in. The guitars are the highlights as always, but Angela really doesn't fit the band's melodic twists. Johan is deeply missed and the band isn't the same without him.
Chris and Mike Amott are some of the best guitarists in any band respectively. I appreciate fine musicianship and talent when it is applied to good guitar metal. I however cannot decipher 'Wages of Sin' and call it refreshing or give any song its own identity, for this reason I have to say that the Swedish sound is getting rather watered down. 'Wages of Sin', although a rapidly well played effort, is no different than anything else guitar orientated coming from this gothenburg/melodic sound. The riffing an be best described as choppy, finely pitched and repetitive.
The only decent track I found of this album was 'Burning Angel'. Angela's vocals cannot be any more ferocious and come through very manly. I used to have to convince my non metal listening friends that it was a woman, no doubt she has a well endowed throat (no pun intended) and she is a better singer than Johan ever was but like the guitars,her voice is the same all the way through. Daniel is a pretty damn good drummer and Sharley, well Sharley has done his time in the metal world with the likes of fellow countrymen 'Witchery' and 'Sinergy', both great bands. To put it simply this is pretty much an all-star ensemble a la 'Oceans 11, 12 and 13' but when it comes down to it, its just too much.
I got rather bored with this listen and then the next and finally gave up on 'Wages of Sin'. I can name you dozens and dozens of bands who sound the same, play it the same everything the same. I just hope that as the melodic sound progresses it finds new territory to invade and conquer for its fine music but just not very deep.
Arch Enemy is a pretty good death band. They have had two good albums so far. That is "Wages of Sin", and "Doomsday Machine". Both albums inquire fast guitar work, insane and impressive drum beats, and death growls from Angela Gossow. Which is my opinion is a descent vocalist. This album has more impressive and challenging songs than Doomsday but both albums are good solid CDs.
Christopher Amott and Michael Amott have always shown use their insane guitar work and impressive solos. In every song they have they solo and I must say each one is different and challenging. Both of these musicians can’t get much better. In the song "Burning Angel" they have a very intense and catchy guitar rift that I must say caused me to like the band more than I already did. This band is very impressive all around and these brothers cannot get much better, but it’s for the better.
Daniel Erlandsson has influenced me so much as a drummer he is the main reason why I love this band. His drum work is very intense and fast paced which is what a drummer needs to do. He can play drum solos very well like in many songs on this album. He has also been in many other bands I enjoy like "Carcass". In my opinion he does a better job in this band and I believe he is the best drummer for Melodic Death/Gothenburg of all time.
Angela Gossow is a very impressive vocalist. I really don’t understand how that deep death growl comes out of someone like her. It really catch’s your attention when you hear that a female sounds like she does. I hope she continues with her impressive deep emotional growls and continues to make the band unique and interesting.
The one thing I would have to fix with this band is the fact that some songs sound the same and others sound completely unlike them at all. For those songs that are impressive and talented keep working out those kinks I know this band very well and love what they have produced so far.
I really shouldn't like this, but I do. This whole genre is complete crap and I can't stand any of the bands in it. At the Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquility they are the popular things in Sweden it seems as of the past decade. Quorthon must be rolling over in his grave. Anyway, for some reason Arch Enemy does something all the other bands of the genre can't do: not make me puke.
Alright, you get it. I hate Gothenburg much like others that have written reviews here, but what about Arch Enemy? Well, this band actually has a riffs and catchy melodies that don't come off as faggishly repulsive as other bands of the genre. Not to say the band doesn't have their flaws though.
I'll start with the good.
The band can craft some catchy riffs, speed or thrash riffs will dominate the verses, occasionally with the second guitar playing 3rds along with it giving it that Gothenburg sound and usually some kind of power metalish riffs under the solos. Check out the intro riffs for Heart of Darkness and Dead Bury Their Dead or the verse riff to Ravenous. You'll see what I'm talking about. The lead guitar is quite spectacular. The Amott brothers are quite excellent and creative with their leads, sadly not so much with the goofy melodies that the genre cannot just do correctly. The drummer is actually quite restrained, backing the riffs for a nice powerful sound. He never resorts to overplaying, but relies on double bass a bit too often. Angela is not bad at all. I hear people bitch and moan about her and I can't see why. Most of those that praise her are mainly looking at her tits and those that dislike her usually just dislike her because she replaced and inferior singer and they're just homosexual or something. I'll take the middle road and say I think she's got a decent set of melons....err...pipes.
Now the bad.
Well, the production of course has that modern feel to it. Some of the choruses are atrocious. Heart of Darkness may ride that killer intro riff, but man is that chorus about as awesome as a bowel movement. "Behind the Smile" is just a really bad song. This band should never go slow to be honest. usually the fast stuff is pretty good, but the slow stuff is really hard to listen to. Savage Messiah is another example of this. Good verse and prechorus riffs especially the slight build up with the keys, but then falls completely flat at the chorus. Then there is the bad harmony thing that all Gothenburg bands fail at. Burning Angel actually has a good riff in the chorus, but the random goofy melody they like to do is really bad in this song. This problem pops up every few songs, and becomes a bad staple in every song on the rest of their albums.
Highlights: Ravenous for sure and Dead Bury Their Dead. These two actually slay the whole way through, no parts that make me cringe.
Should I recommend this? Well, fans of the style I'm sure cream over it, but this band really isn't that bad and I found a lot of parts quite enjoyable. Probably the best band in this genre.
(Note: Originally written by me on September 10, 2005 for Amazon.com)
Without a doubt, this is the best metal album to come out of Sweden in the melodic death metal field for a long time. The scorching solos, fist-pumping harmonies, vicious drums, and a superb production job make "Wages of Sin" quite possibly AE's best album, rivalled only by "Stigmata".
The Ammott brothers are absolutely impeccable. There is a great balance here in the sound. The precision is unparalleled in their intricate, meticulously-crafted harmonies and the INSANE shreddage on the solos. (It has to be heard, especially on "Burning Angel" and "Ravenous".) The trade-off allows both of the guitarists to have their turn to rip your head off. There's plenty of melody and catchy riffs here, but for the old-schoolers, "The First Deadly Sin" and "Dead Bury Their Dead" serve up some brutal, technical, and ripping thrash-fests. The clean guitars, while used sparingly, give off an eerie, dark atmosphere. (See the beginning of "Savage Messiah" for best example.) All around, an absolutely astonishing performance is given here.
Daniel Erlandsson's drums are just as great. He may not be the fastest, nor the flashiest, but his bludgeoning double bass and full-throttle thrash attacks give the songs an extra dose of venom. He does have his technical moments, and even some minature solos. His fills are pretty crazy on "Web of Lies", and "Lament of a Mortal Soul" helps show off his fusion/jazz intricacies. A great performance.
And of course, we have Angela's vocals. I actually prefer her over Johan, as she seems a bit more consistent and polished with her delivery. The lyrics aren't the best, but hey, they get the job done. (Even though "Savage Messiah" has some pretty good lyrics.) Her raspy screams and semi-growls fit the attitude of the songs perfectly. At times, she uses a frightening semi-whisper. Though she may not be the most dynamic vocalist and hasn't improved much on subsequent AE albums, this is more than enough to convince me that her vocals are pretty damn evil for coming from a blonde bombshell such as herself.
Every song has its own attributes that make it stick to you. From the deceptively calm intro of "Enemy Within", the variety of "Dead Bury Their Dead", (download this song to see what the album sounds like, it encompasses the whole album in one song and has some brutal guitar work in it) or the malicious assault of "The First Deadly Sin", all the way to the calming instrumental "Snow Bound", this will be one melodeath release that never gets old because of its consistency and variety. A highly recommended release to all metal fans.
The best music isn't always complex. Some of the best is catchy.
Just an above average performance all around. Of course the Amott brothers put in a good performance, Angela sounds great on vocals (not too shrieky, not to br007hur1,just right).
Starts off well, although the piano intro doesn't really build up any sort of anticipation or excitement, otherwise a rocker despite a couple forgettable riffs.
Drums aren't anything spectacular, just solid, and production is perfect.
Burning Angel is a good reminder that you don't have to have nothing simple to make a good song. The melody (who would call that a solo?) is catchy. Catchy. Catchy. Did you catch that? And the harmony that comes in under it only augments the effect. Good running music.
Heart of Darkness is an odd, song. There's a strange mixture of styles here. A refreshing melodeath, a familiar groovy riff, and the melodic/Maiden-esque flavor. It works, and keeps my attention. The clean break is a bit of a blemish, there's really no excuse for it. But the riff after the break is really really good and melodic and catchy and powerful, so it evens out I suppose.
Ravenous. The crown jewel without question. A dash of syncopation in the intro, speed, melody, impressive drums during the mid-paced melodic parts (usually talking place right before the chorus). The clean break is just enough for the song to hit you in the face when it comes back in. Might not end in the most original way but it works, so it works.
It's really the little things that make Savage Messiah acceptable, all the little artificial harmonics and holds in the background work until the verse, and then the synths supplement the pre-chorus riff, and so on. This might seem plodding, but it still holds the listener's attention and has a good atmospheric quality (doomy) without killing more adrenaline than the listener has already most likely spent.
Other highlights: The First Deadly Sin being varied and blazing in sections, Snow Bound for being a legitimately written mini-ballad instrumental with some classical elements in the chord changes, and Lament of A Mortal Soul for being a blaster and having a bit of a bluesey pattern in the main riff, which isn't exactly typical of their style.
Complaints: Some of these songs will be too modern for some without a doubt. I'm one of the few that doesn't mind all that much.
There's a huge negative connection with two of the songs here.
Beginning of Shadows and Dust == Megadeth - Secret Place.
Web of Lies is better than but still equates to We Will Rise.
It's enjoyable, it warrants enough attention to let the flaws seem less glaring.
There certainly isn't a bad solo on this disc. There really isn't a throwaway track either. Unfortunately, things would go really downhill after this release.
This album features two of the world’s fastest, most complex and talented guitarists. Heavy, thundering bass accented by pounding, precise drumming which even out the rhythm section. All topped off by a woman with the face of an angel and the voice of the Devil. This is Arch Enemy’s Wages of Sin.
The guitar work on this album is second to none. The riffs come flying from the rest of the music on the album. The Amotts’ solos perfectly add a new layer to the songs, standing alone against one another, as well as strong against solos from any other band on any other album. The album has parts where the guitars frantically spit out notes at top speeds, chug along very low and intimidating, create a softer and moving sound, make a creepy haunting vibe, and soar high majestic and proud. This is melodic death metal perfection.
Competing with the excellent guitar work is the remarkable death vocals of Angela Gossow in her first album with Arch Enemy. Quite honestly, as far as death metal singers go, her voice is incredible. While not quite the highest or lowest of all death metal growlers, she has a great range. From flat out screaming to a high, almost seductive, whisper-like sound to a low, impressive growl. What separates her from many other death metal singers is she doesn’t have just one “death voice”. In many other death metal bands, the style of singing sounds the exact same on every single song, only with different lyrics. Angela, on the other hand, manages to handle each song differently, using varying nuances and inflections in her voice on every track. In Johan Liiva’s absence, she has turned out to be more than a worthy replacement.
Now, for those of you who are not death metal fans and are still reading, I’ll say this to you. Even if you’re not a big fan of harsh vocals, give this album a couple spins. It may take you a few listens to get used to Angela’s voice, I won’t doubt that. But, I also don’t doubt that you’ll be sucked into the technical instrumental work, while possibly being put off by Ms. Gossow’s screaming. I know this because I AM a melodic death metal fan and that’s how I felt about Arch Enemy at first. But hang in there; once you gain an appreciation for the music, an acceptance and maybe even enjoyment of the vocals could follow. Once you get to the point where you want to hear the Amotts’ slam out a little guitar, you’ll find yourself hooked. Just give it a matter of time.
Now, back to the album. It begins with an array of songs that should be death metal classics. Not just Arch Enemy classics, but songs that should be included when making the death metal time capsule. Some of the greatest tracks Arch Enemy’s ever recorded sit right up front on Wages.
A deceptively calm piano piece serves as the intro to the album, lulling the listener in a false sense of security and peace. This peace is soon shattered as the guitars and rums of “Enemy Within” explode from your speakers. What it starts with is probably one of the best riffs ever laid on tape which leads a short, sweet and insane metal track that will either immediately make you want to hear the rest of the album or send you screaming into the night, unable to handle the metal overdoes. You’ll then spend the rest of your poor existence listening to Kenny G records, trying to unwind and settle down from the metal madness. But, for those of you who managed to survive this first track, the best is yet to come.
Some nice demonic overtones along with a chilling but catchy opening harmony are just a couple reasons why “Burning Angel” is one of, if not my absolute, favorite Arch Enemy songs. While not quite as fast as its predecessor, this track is just as intense. A consistent rhythm section, some excellent double guitar harmonies, Angela screaming her heart out and a guitar solo that could make Yngwie Malmsteen say “Damn, that was pretty cool” flesh out this awesome death metal classic.
“Heart of Darkness” continues the album. Quite a bit slower than the last two, but a very complex song with several different parts and really takes advantage of Angela’s range. “Ravenous” is an extremely intense song, and was the first single from this album. It starts with some unusual riffing, but soon explodes into a fast-paced headbanger’s delight with some pretty gruesome lyrics. It’s the kind of song that makes you throw your devil horns in the air proudly, all the while wondering what the hell is going on inside their heads. All the while being sure this is a song that will be on their live setlist for years to come. Then, a more epic feeling comes from “Savage Messiah”, which is probably one of the few Arch Enemy songs you could say that about. From a slow, ominous opening, ripping into full metal fury, to a truly mighty refrain, this song is probably an example of some of Arch Enemy’s best songwriting. Definitely a fine example of what Arch Enemy can do, rounding out the classics that open up this album.
The rest of the songs on the album each have their own appeal and have a unique sound. While not quite as good as the songs that kick off the album, each should still remain in the death metal hall of fame. There’s the trudging, ugly, angry “Dead Bury Their Dead”, with it’s excellent drum work, time changes and bass lines. The excellent guitar licks towards the end of “Web of Lies” make the track MORE than worthy of a listen. “The First Deadly Sin” is an obviously Slayer-influenced track, with some classic speed-metal parts. While “Behind the Smile” starts very different, with a groovier, almost nu-metallic opening, this is just Arch Enemy branching out in a different direction and doing it pretty well. “Shadows and Dust” is an excellent song, almost taking a page out of the Megadeth playbook (the main riff sounds suspiciously like “A Secret Place”), everything in this song works perfectly, from the catchy tech riffs, to Angela’s screaming and the constant pounding rhythm. This is a song I’d love to hear them play live some day. Finally, the album is laid to rest with “Lament of a Mortal Soul”. What begins as a standard, catchy metal song is given an interesting touch with some unusual, seemingly misplaced guitar work during the refrain, but in the end it all works pretty well.
So, there you have it. In my mind, death metal perfection. You’ve got a pair of metal’s best guitarists doing what they do best. Writing excellent metal tracks and performing them as only they can. This is one of the few albums where I can honestly say I don’t need or want to skip a track. Which is very rare for me to say about a death metal CD, even if it is melodic. I can’t say it enough, this is an album that does everything right. From the piano at the beginning of “Enemy Within” to the last notes of “Lament of a Mortal Soul”, this is a 90-MPH heavy metal roller coaster, with hills, valleys and even a couple loops. For those of you who are death metal fans, this is absolutely recommended listening. For those of you who aren’t… this absolute recommended listening, it may even convert you to the darker side.
After reading the back and forth about this disc on this website, I decided to check it out. I was a little nervous about the idea of melodic death metal, as I own things like In Flames "Colony" at Gates of Ishtar, and they are not in the constant rotation list. Somehow, without a focus on evil and heavy death metal just doesn't seem to be death metal. And why (just to get this out of the way) is Opeth considered melodic death? Bash em all you want, but the majority of Opeth's riffs are pretty heavy, with melodic parts thrown in which don't have to do with the heavy parts too much at all. Or maybe that is just me. Ok, enough, the review itself.
This CD is awesome. The sheer speed, rad vocals, vicious main riffs, and amazing drum work allow me to look past the very very 80's guitar solos. Arch Enemy have managed to make metal that is perfect for bringing the uninitiated, those who think they "might" like metal, into the fold. The music is heavy without being indecipherable and indistinguishable, and there are no accursed clean vocals. In fact, Angela lays it the hell down, and if you don't find yourself hissing "carnivorous jesssusssss" you need to throw back in your favorite Motley Crue piece of dung.
That being said, there is some 80's here - the solos being the main offender. Then again, they are so over the top that one cannot help but air-guitar to them. The only moment that is so 80's that I must skip it is the instrumental "Snowbound" - blech, disgusting.
But there is precious few negative moments to talk about. Almost every song is good, and most are great. Fine examples being "Burning Angel," "Lament of A Mortal Soul," "Savage Messiah," "Behind the Smiles," "Dead Bury Their Dead," damn, just about every song on this disc is fucking cool.
Then there are the two true masterpieces in my mind - good not only for established metalheads but for those you are trying to trick into spending all of their meager income on Satanic nonsense. "Ravenous" is just tremendous - fast as hell, a little melodic breakdown, great transition between the bridge and chorus, vocals that just beg a hiss-along - wonderous. My second favorite on here is "First Deadly Sin," if just for Angela rasping - "Love turns to hate hate hate hate....Fire turns to IIIICCCEEEEEEE!" Way to go metal.
So despite the talk of Gaythenburg, this is one album worth owning. Plus it comes with a second disc that gives you a little insight into the history of the band - and the old vocalist doesn't sound that good to me. A pretty necessary chunk of melo-death, better than anything else I've heard in the genre.
When people look back on the metal of 2001, what will be best remembered? Slayer's return to form with 'God Hates Us All'? Slipknot failing to live up to the hype with the dire 'Iowa'? Emperor's final exit with 'Prometheus…'? Deicide's crazed contractual obligation album 'In Torment In Hell'? If there was any justice in the world, 'Wages of Sin' would be hailed as the defining album of 2001. It won't be, but hey, life ain't fair.
Right from the get go, Arch Enemy command respect. Even on first listen, the technical brilliance of the band is awe–inspiring. The riffing and soloing is amazing. It immediately gets in your face, grabs you by the ears, and shakes until you can't help but give it your full attention. This is not something to listen to while you're working, as you'll be constantly distracted. That's not to say it's overly technical in a prog–rock kind of way. No, this is interchangeable twin guitar rifferama, as pioneered by Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, where it's difficult to tell where rhythm and lead guitar blend seamlessly.
Choosing the outstanding tracks on this album is impossible. As each new track begins you think "this is the one!" but then the next track begins you think "or maybe this". There is not a dud, filler, or weaker track among them. Just as a random example, "Heart of Darkness" starts with what sounds like a riff left over from Carcass' pathologically essential 'Necroticism: Descanting The Insalubrious'. Angela Gossow's guttural growl (it says here it's a female vocalist, though it's difficult to believe!) also sounds a lot like that produced by the Carcass lads.
Latter day Carcass seems to be a reference point time and again, and if any band deserves to revisit the likes of 'Heartwork' and 'Swansong', it's Arch Enemy. After all, Michael Amott helped define their post–'Symphonies of Sickness' sound. All the same, it would be misleading and unfair to call Arch Enemy Carcass clones. This band has it's own unique musical identity, out–muscling a majority of so–called melodic death metal bands, but still retaining that essential listenability and attention to detail missing from more brutal bands.
While the brainwashed, baggy–trousered hordes think they have found the essence of "extreme" metal in Slipknot and System Of A Down, anyone with an ear for what metal CAN be will be tracking this down and smiling quietly and blissfully.
This is Arch Enemy's fourth effort. This is also the first appearance of new vocalist Angela Gossow, who replaced Johan "Liiva" Axelsson, who left the band after losing interest in the music industry.
This album comes across something of a mixed bag, with some songs being quite ripping and aggressive, with other songs being more plodding and uninspired. The album is definitely rooted in the Gothenburg death metal style, a little more overtly than previously, but still retaining an aggression that is rarely seen in other Gothenburg-style bands (later In Flames in particular).
Angela Nathalie Gossow (vocals) - The totally uninitiated listener will take one listen and then swear blue and green that it isn't her singing. Unlike the hardcore-ish roar of her predecessor, Angela, formerly of Mistress, favours a hoarse blackened scream/growl that is full of intensity. Excellent and hair-raising performance.
Michael Amott (guitars) - One half of the famed Arch Enemy guitar team, Michael locks tightly into this brother to create a thick rhythm base, and also teaming up with Christopher Amott to weave melody lines over the top. His lead style is more melodically-based and restrained here, making a nice counterpoint to his brother's style.
Christopher Amott (guitars) - The other half of the guitar team, Christopher interacts tightly with his brother throughout the album. His lead style is more over the top than his brother, favouring a more frenzied approach with fast flurries of notes and some rather advanced guitar techniques, best evidenced in his lead on Ravenous.
Sharlee D'Angelo (bass) - A bassist whose extensive resume includes the likes of Mercyful Fate, Sinergy and Dismember. He lends a strong presence, laying down a thick low-end to the album. He doesn't really deviate much from the rhythm, with only one exception at the end of Ravenous.
Daniel Erlandsson (drums) = Another musician with an impressive resume (In Flames and Armageddon of particular note), Erlandsson puts in an electric performance here, rich with tight double-bass. He doesn't seem to fill-happy, and is more concerned with keeping a steady groove, which he pulls off to a T.
Production was handled by Fredrik Nordstrom and Michael Amott, with the mix handled by Andy Sneap. The drums are mixed clearly, and the guitars are full and heavy. One particularly notable point about the production is the bass tone. I haven't heard any bass tone so unbelievably heavy and present within a recording. This contributes to the rather bass heavy feel of the album, and makes the cuts here even more punishing.
Enemy Within - This cut starts off with a melancholy piano intro that gives way to an uptempo section featuring a Gothenburg-esque melody line on top, also featuring impressive double-bass from Erlandsson. It also features a nice
lead section showcasing the contrasting styles of the Amott brothers. A great opening cut.
Ravenous - This song got made into a video, and it's not hard to see why. While being reasonably aggressive, it's also relatively catchy to boot. The song is totally saturated in double-bass in the verse and bridge sections, before a chorus featuring a rather catchy chord melody. The song drops out for a while where Michael puts forth a melancholy relaxed lead over Christopher's relaxed clean lines, before the song picks up again and Christopher tears it up with an intensely ripping lead. Excellent ride from start to finish.
Dead Bury Their Dead - Far and away the most aggressive cut on the album, it starts with a slow intro building into a midtempo section before all hell breaks loose around 0:44. Later this cut features some aggressive rhythm picking along with some unbelievably deep vocals from Angela. The lead section is totally over the top, beginning with a melodic lead from Michael, then an absolutely breathtaking harmony lead at 2:19 that had my jaw dropping instantly. The lead section ends with a relatively restrained lead (by his standards anyway) from Christopher, before a small passage consisting only of drum and bass, showing off Erlandsson's skills on the toms, before one last chorus.
Heart Of Darkness - This cut just seems to plod on forever and not really do anything. The main riff is boring and the chorus is dreadfully anticlimatic. Angela's voice also seems to lose some of it's bite here too. The saving grace here is the midsection, which picks up the pace and features some nice leadwork from the Brothers Amott, before unfortunately descending
back into mediocrity.
Web Of Lies - This one is just bland with a distinct lack of build within the song, along with a rather annoying chorus. As always, it's saved by an extremely good lead section, punctuated with double bass and some psychotic lead work from Christopher, followed by some restrained and melodic lead work from Michael. Another problem I have here is the lyrics. Arch Enemy's lyrics aren't all that good, but this is just silly.
Savage Messiah - Gawd, this is a right shocker! Plodding, boring, sludgy and uninteresting riffing does not make for a good listen. This one always gets skipped when I play this album. Recommended to insomniacs only. Not even the leadwork on this song can make it better.
This album could have been a fair bit better, considering there are some really ripping tunes here. However there are just too many goddamn throwaway tracks on this album to give it a higher rating. Fans of the Gothenburg style or fans of excellent guitar work in general will like this album.
First of all, this is about the regular single-cd version.
For some reason I've kept my distance to Arch Enemy before they released this one, I dunno if the reason had something to do with the fact that the singer sucked ass or that the music was such an obvious copy of In Flames' style. However, that's not important right now. The thing is they've gotten themselves a new vocalist so I thought I'd check the new material out. So what is the verdict? Well musically they've grown alot actually, sure they sound abit like In Flames (and other such bands, like Dark Tranquillity) in the bottom - but this album is really nice anyway cause they use lots of stuff other bands in this genre never done before.. for example slower intros and riffs ala Black Sabbath, how about that one?
Second, the new vocalist really has some growling talent! I was kind of shocked by the fact that it is a she! A female growler by the name of Angela. And she growls just as good as any male in this genre! So almost only good stuff on here. With that said I know I have to pinpoint some flaws (although no important ones), so here's the deal. I don't like those slower intros actually, it doesn't really fit this genre very good (I want double kicks goddamnit!!) and another thing is the lyrics which isn't always very lifting. For example "Savage messiah" (which is a good song) - "Savage messiah, take us higher" etc. I dunno about you but that's power metal lyrics to me. Yucky.
But like I said there's only very small flaws here, the rest is as elite you want it to be - superb fast/melodic riffs, great leads, tight drumming with lots of double kicks.. you name it. Overall a great album which I think every metal fan should go out and buy. I am for sure gonna support this band in the future (if their next albums are gonna be this good that is).
The most obvious aspect of Wages Of Sin (and one that is mentioned far too often) is Angela Gossow on vocals. Yes, she is a woman, and yes she has a great death metal voice. Now that that little tidbit is out of the way lets get down to the music and the release as a whole.
Wages Of Sin simply smokes from beginning to end. The songs are varied, with fast tempos, slow tempos, mid-paced tempos, atmospheric and dark sounding riffs all woven into each song. No song is a straight speed attack, and no song is a straight mid-tempo crunch. Because of that every song has its own identity, and it's a damn good identity because the overall feeling is one of a crushing but melodic force that engulfs the listener at every turn. I personally think this is very close to a perfect mix of Death/Thrash Metal riffs and subtle melodies- and that is without any keyboard use or clean vocals. This just goes to show what great song writers the band are and that they have improved from their previous releases, which while still being good, are inferior to Wages Of Sin in my opinion.
Other highlights of the CD include extremely tight rhythms that most Swedish based bands are known for. It's no surprise because we all know Eraldson and D'Angelo are some of the best in their field, and the tightness and precision from the two is outstanding. Of course, the great production helps; I just love that double bass power. Another aspect that is worth mentioning is the use of atmospheric parts to accentuate the guitar solos (which are very good mind you). These solos and many riffs, too, usually build up to something really amazing, and that leads for a high level of interest from the listener.
The only very minor fault of this release is maybe 1 to 3 very, very short lived lull's in certain songs that I could have done without- although is must be said that this is extreme nitpicking. Otherwise I enjoyed this release from beginning to end; although certain killer
songs such as "Enemy Within" and "Dead Bury Their Dead" are noticeably better than "Web Of Lies" and "Heart Of Darkness", even though the latter two songs are still very enjoyable. I highly recommend this release to Death/Thrash fans that also enjoy melody in their music.
To comment on the other reviews. I was never a huge fan of Johan Liiva, although I thought he sounded a lot better on Burning Bridges, and while Black Earth is a true classic, I preferred this release.