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The exploded hand - 89%

gasmask_colostomy, September 15th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Century Media Records (Digipak)

The important thing with opening tracks sometimes is that they rip your head off and spit down the hole, leaving the listener reeling in the wake of the assault and unable to recover for the duration of the album. That sort of happens here, whereby 'The Immortal' is so completely and utterly destructive that picking holes in songs like 'Demonic Science' or 'Seeds of Hate' becomes easy in comparison, as well as rather mean. I think the cover image is absolutely perfect for this album, since it's probably a selfie of someone after listening to that first track, with their ragged bloody stump still in the position their arm was when they pressed the play button. Anyway, enough buffoonery: is 'Burning Bridges' really good enough to cause such personal injury?

Yes and no, to be honest. For me, it's always difficult to consider Arch Enemy as a chronological beast, since I heard the Angela Gossow-era material before any of the Johan Liiva albums and prefer the early work so strongly that this seems to weigh in at about 100% when stacked up alongside 'Doomsday Machine' and 'Anthems of Rebellion', which relied too much on groove and production rather than song quality, speed, and riffs. One thing that has always puzzled me about the Amott brothers is that they are both very, very talented but don't seem able to compose and structure songs efficiently. Looking at the later material, the slower pace and plainer riffs are baffling; why would you downplay your best element? On the other hand, 'Stigmata' also had some slow sections, though the problem with that album was its messy nature - the songs seemed to have a lot of rough edges and not fit together fully. 'Burning Bridges' is not quite "song-writing for dummies" though it favours a much simpler technique. The general approach to any given song is as follows: 1. Take a riff and play it a few times, perhaps with one change. 2. Take another riff and use it to lead into the verse. 3. Take a third riff and get Liiva to shout something over it. 4. Play one of the first riffs again. 5. Chorus. 6. Repeat steps 1-5. 7. Do solos for a minute. 8. Chorus. Really, it's quite simple, uses a fair number of riffs, and doesn't give many opportunities to fuck things up.

The fact that this formula works so well is proof of the band's abilities. Anyone who's spent more than a year or two listening to metal must have come across at least one of the instrumentalists on this album, while anyone more experienced should understand that 'Burning Bridges' is the kind of release on which these musicians built their reputations. Daniel Erlandsson, in the first place, is practically ubiquitous in the melodeath and extreme metal scene in Europe, with stints in so many bands it's actually become difficult to keep track. His style here is not exactly typical of melodeath as a genre, but typical of Arch Enemy as a band, including so much variation and such a high level of precision that even some of the rhythm riffs sound like they are written by the drummer rather than by the guitarists. Perhaps his defining characteristic is a lightness of touch and relentless energy that might seem at odds with each other, but keep the album pacy and upbeat. Sharlee D'Angelo has been around as well, though doesn't get quite such a strong outing, often being hidden by guitars, except for some small features in 'Seed of Hate' and 'Angelclaw'. The guitarists are arguably at their creative and performative best on this album: there are a whole slew of amazing riffs and a lot of lead material (perhaps 10 minutes of this 35 minute album contains lead guitar), which maintains an incredibly high quality in general, despite a few mindlessly chuggy and over-rhythmic sections. The catchiness is another important factor that they provide, since Liiva doesn't have the voice to produce hooks, although he is consistently brutal and sometimes emotional, which grounds the album, allowing the guitarists to add melody. The production benefits all of these elements and fortunately doesn't sound too clean, helping Liiva with his slightly rough voice and ensuring that quality is paramount, while groove isn't really an issue.

Now, I need to justify that comment about 'The Immortal'. That song gets my nod as the best here simply because it displays such a phenomenal amount of energy and drive and has the most memorable riffs of the album. The first one is not bad, the second is raging, and the chorus riff might never leave your head again, while the solos certainly don't disappoint - it's that kind of song. The other numbers are all a little slower and some, like 'Dead Inside' and 'Demonic Science' have a couple of naff parts, but the quality is generally very strong. The album benefits from having only 8 songs, since they are slightly similar and might get boring after 45 minutes, but the virtuosity accounts for a bit of the variety and we are never too far from something memorable. 'Pilgrim' and 'Silverwing' edge it as the catchiest and most distinctive of the mid-paced songs, while the closing title track changes things up for an epic doomy crawl, complete with orchestral sounds that leave the album with a lamenting, hollow feeling far from the exuberant melodeath of the first half hour and entirely befitting of that statue on the cover. Some editions also include 'Diva Satanica' and 'Hydra', which are decent additions, the former being a fast-paced song with some hooky riffage and the latter a short creepy instrumental.

I'm not completely sure if there is any Arch Enemy album that I can give myself over to loving entirely, but 'Burning Bridges' comes as close as possible to perfection in this style and with these songwriters. Nothing is bad, most of it is great, and everything has plenty of replay value. Just adjust the volume setting before 'The Immortal' - up or down, your choice.

The actual shining moment of Arch Enemy - 94%

christhjian, May 20th, 2015

Arch Enemy is probably the most famous band which features a female growler - that used to be famous Angela Gossow who's now been replaced by Alissa White-Gluz. They became widely known with Gossow in the front of the band. Musically, however, they slowly started to stagnate during that era. Arch Enemy actually started off with Johan Liiva as the vocalist and Amott brothers being out of the planet guitar duo. Michael Amott was also involved with English extreme metallers Carcass, from where he brought over many ideas to kickstart Arch Enemy. The first couple records had more of the Carcass tunes in there, on this one they achieved more original sound.

There is a debate going on among the fans about which vocalist was better - Johan or Angela. Angela's voice is certainly powerful, but she tended to frequently overdo the vocals. Liiva on the other had nowhere near as deep a death metal growl, but was a very emotional vocalist during his tenure with Arch Enemy. While he was somewhat disappointing on "Stigmata", then this was easily his best effort. It also tops AE's debut. It's all about the heart he put in. His voice floats above the amazing riffing, rather than cutting through it - and it is fairly melodic as well. Presumably, most of the people who have found out about the band started their journey with some release featuring Gossow, and therefor Liiva's vocals may sound strange at first, but actually they fit in the music really well. It does take some time though, because the transition is pretty big.

Liiva is good, but the show is stolen by the already mentioned Amott brothers. The effort they've put into that record is simply amazing. This album is a little bit more melodic than the two predecessors, but "Burning Bridges" made AE really sound like one of a kind. While it is very melodic, there are a lot of thrashy riffing to be found also. In fact, main riffs are derived from thrash, but they also feature melodic trickery and super catchy hooks. And yet the guitar duo manages to be aggressive all the time, even when it comes to incredible dual leads. The seemingly never ending juicy riffing is backed up with some class act drumming that's precise and interesting all the time and adds heaviness to some more melodic parts.

While the word "melodic" has been used a lot in this review, this album remains rather gloomy for the most part thanks to aggressive rhythm sections and Liiva's vocal delivery. Still, melodic riffing gives the album a little more lighthearted feel at times... for some tastes maybe even too much at times. One song they kill atmosphere by overdoing it a little is "Angelclaw", where last solo sounds too "happy". To counter that, the last song "Burning Bridges" has the darkest atmosphere of all the songs off this album, and even delivers doom metal feeling. The slow and sinister chugging this track features may not be the real highlight of this album, but is a surprise and a nice final accord to the album.

"Burning Bridges" is THE Arch Enemy album. The first two and some of the later albums by the band are brilliant also. From Angela's era "Wages of Sin" and "Doomsday Machine" nearly always do it for me. Sadly, the riffing has lost its magic and become less exciting over time. Arch Enemy can be accused of taking too safe road on many albums, but that's not the case of their early releases. It is an insane Gothenburg styled riff fest - a must for every melodeath fan and even more so, for every Arch Enemy fan. And definitely a fine album to get started with melodic death metal.

94/100

A turn up for the books - 86%

PorcupineOfDoom, December 7th, 2014

If you've checked out the two releases that came before this one then you'll probably know what's coming: I'll praise the musicianship in terms of Daniel's drumming and Chris and Michael's skill on the guitars and then I'll slag off Johan Liiva. Then I'll probably bang on about the sound being unclean and then go back to bitch a bit more about Johan and how he sucks eggs. Maybe throw in a comment or two about how I'm glad they changed their direction after this album and then top it off with something about Angela being better than Johan. That's pretty much how it tends to go.

The opening twenty or so seconds of The Immortal were actually an interesting experience for me, and it continued on throughout that song: the guitars sounded weird and out of tune in the parts that I'd normally consider the highlights of the tracks. Admittedly the solo section is a fine one (what else do we expect of one of the best guitar pairings in the business?), but for the most part they fail to sound appealing to me. Normally I'd just gloss over it, but there is another unexpected entity in this song: Johan Liiva actually sounds decent. It sounds as if he's actually trying to do something interesting here rather than just randomly speak over the top of epic guitar hooks, and suddenly I find that it's bearable. More than that, it's kind of enjoyable. Weird, I never thought I'd say that about Johan.

It's not a trend that continues for the entire album (the next song goes back to something more reminiscent of the last two albums), but as a whole Johan sounds much more engaging and like he actually cares about what he's doing. It does make me wonder why he suddenly found himself sacked after his first performance that was somewhat okay, but I'm just going to go out on a limb and say that his replacement still outclasses him by a long margin. Still, well done Johan. I'm pleased to see that you did something that could be seen as good while in AE.

For the most part the sound on this album is cleaner, and thankfully for the rest of the album the guitars are in tune. I do enjoy most of this album a lot more than the past two Liiva albums thanks to that, along with the vocals being much improved. It's strange how much one thing can impact the rest of the band, but this shows it.

The music on this album is also more catchy than that of Stigmata and most of Black Earth. That helps me to engage with it that little bit more than the past two albums as well, and I really find myself getting lost in the stuff that's being played. Maybe this points towards the style that they shifted their focus to after the end of this (albeit in a slightly different way than this), but I enjoy most of this album to a great extent.

Sadly there is an exception to the great progress they've made that isn't The Immortal, which happens to be the title track. It's more like a doom/death mix, more specifically something along the lines of sludge. While it's interesting to hear them try something different, I've never managed to enjoy doom metal to the same extent that many other metalheads do, and I do find it very boring at the extremely slow pace they're playing at. The atmosphere is admittedly very good (not many times that I pick up on that), but I enjoy the tracks along the lines of Seeds of Hate to a much better degree.

All in all though this is a nice record and I'm left to ponder exactly why it took this long for Liiva to leave any kind of impression on me. It came at last though, and he has (to some degree) saved his reputation, but I'll always look back and think of him as the guy that came before Angela who was terrible at his job thanks to the two previous albums. Maybe he should have tried doing his job sooner.

It's all about catchiness - 73%

erebuszine, April 12th, 2013

Ah, Michael Amott. I have been an enthusiastic admirer of his professionalism going all the way back to his days in Carnage, his first appearance as far as I can remember. While that band was short lived, being swallowed alive in the melee of Entombed clone bands that suddenly appeared like poisonous fungi after the release of 'Left Hand Path' (an amazing record, still), its roots went deep into the Swedish death metal underground, being an archetype, of sorts, for the kind of incestuous band-trading that Swedish musicians are now famous for - from the ashes of Carnage (or rather, its still-warm corpse) were spawned a number of bands, Dismember being the easiest to recognize. The Carnage album did come out on Earache (or was it one of that company's little side labels? I can't remember), at the same time as the exquisitely strange first Cadaver record, and while it didn't receive the recognition it deserved, it didn't exactly go unnoticed. Amott hopped from Carnage very quickly into Carcass, a band that was just beginning to peak in terms of popularity and technical song-writing (the nexus in the history of death metal where Michael Amott and Bill Steer came together was extremely fortuitous - we can thank fate, or the powers that be, that such a collaboration came about). This is the point where I first saw Amott play live - at a Death/Pestilence/Carcass show in Houston in (I believe) 1990 or '91. Pestilence were supporting the release of 'Consuming Impulse' and Carcass were there to play songs off of 'Symphonies of Sickness' - eat your hearts out, death metal novices. I remember very distinctly the first time I saw him in the flesh - it was a magic moment. He walked out on stage to test his guitar and effects setup... calmly strolling towards his stack while the packed house was busy chatting, drinking, and otherwise ignoring what was going on right in front of them. He took out his guitar, plugged it into the rack effects, turned on the speakers, and strummed it lightly - quickly playing a few riffs. The result was catastrophic - out of the house system oozed this monstrous downtuned black stench of a guitar sound (that beautiful Carcass guitar sound, you know what I mean), cutting through the noise of the crowd and over the music on the club stereo...all the heads in the place immediately snapped around and turned towards the stage, the talking stopped, glasses were dropped back to the bar, a hush spread throughout the audience, and mouths hung open in awe all around me. Carcass had arrived.

Amott has said in several interviews that he considers Arch Enemy to be a continuation of his days in Carcass, and because of the success 'Necroticism' has had in influencing the latest generation of Swedish bands, what he is doing with this band doesn't sound out of place in any way with what is going on all around him, in his home country. I think that Arch Enemy, along with In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and The Haunted, are now a complete music scene amongst themselves: going from one band to the other, you come across pretty much all the different ways that the Swedish sound can be manipulated. Everything else outside of this little group of musicians can be seen as derivative.

The guitar work on this album is (as you would probably expect) never less than dazzling. Michael and his little brother Christopher (who is a very good guitarist in his own right) wrote most, if not all, of the music on this record, and this band is really about all the different ways these two brothers can bring their combined talents to bear on forging a new melodic sensibility out of the typical Swedish death sound. Going from crushing rhythmic pounding to lighting-fast twin leads, sugary sweet harmonies to inebriating technical flairs, and from extremely aggressive tremelo picking to slow, drawn-out smothering melodies, they strive to exhaust the range of the metal guitar. There are several very good riffs or arrangements on this album - the intro/first main riff on 'Demonic Science' (absolutely magnificent - the drums syncopating perfectly, like a quickened Carcass riff), the intro/first riff on the opener, 'The Immortal, most of 'Dead Inside' (a clinic in writing melodic death metal), the harmonies beginning 'Silverwing' - there are too many to name them all. If you are a fan of the Swedish melodic sensibility, prepare to be completely overwhelmed by this record.

Having said that, I can't help but be a little pessimistic when it comes to reviewing this album on any other level. The Amotts have put so much into the guitar work that they have left very little for all the other elements that make up great music: there is not much depth to these songs at all. Perhaps that is as it is supposed to be: most of the NWOSDM bands are not exactly profound when you get past the flashy melodies. It is a strange predicament - while their melodicism is almost always brilliant, there is very little weight or substance to the music beyond that - their songs exists in the present almost completely, as something to be experienced, felt on the surface, and then forgotten. Ear candy, really. You don't find yourself returning to these melodies and pondering them, or searching in them for anything deeper than entertainment. Reading the lyrics on this album was frustrating for me, mainly because they didn't seem to really have that much thought put into them. They fulfill all the requirements of 'death metal lyrics', but the impression I received from a look at them was that they were done almost as an afterthought. How does the vocalist feel about that, I wonder? This is strange, to me, because they seem to deal with subjects or events from Michael's own life - including his divorce. I wonder what it's like to take horribly emotional events from your own life and turn them into catchy lyrics - I don't think I could do it. 'Burning Bridges' is all about catchiness. If you take it as such, not looking for anything else other than a diversion, this release is excellent. If you are looking for something more heartfelt, or emotional, then you would be wise to turn North from here. This is something that seems to infect the entire Swedish scene, even the black metal bands - I wonder why? They just approach the writing of music differently.

UA

Erebus Magazine
http://erebuszine.blogspot.com

Super Amott Bros. 3 - 92%

OzzyApu, March 16th, 2013
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Century Media Records (Digipak)

This final album in the original trilogy of Arch Enemy's career is a different breed than its two predecessors. It's got the same burning distortion and ripping riffs that defined the Amott style of playing up to this point, but its emphasis on catchier songs made it lose that menacing, baleful edge that defined Black Earth and Stigmata. Burning Bridges moves even closer to heavy / power metal with lots of the harshness that wasn't foreign to the band at this point. The songs themselves aren't any worse for what they intended, except for the title track.

Now of all the songs of Arch Enemy's first three looming albums, the song "Burning Bridges" is dogshit. It's very doomy, but it's so boring as it tries to fry melodic leads without any real direction. Liiva's coarse yells rule, as they do commanding the rest of the album, but the song is governed by robotic drumming and some annoying as hell mellotron. The rest of the album's drumming is like an artillery battery with actual fills and blasting that's potent and flow-friendly. The drumming on this one song is in a totally different realm than the rupturing blitz of riffs and arcane-like melodic death, but most of all it isn't good.

The best on the other end of the album are songs like "Pilgrim," "Silverwing," and "Seed Of Hate". Basically anything on here except "Burning Bridges" is awesome heavy / power metal influenced melodic death with classic singular / twin solos, pronounced harmonies, and sadistic delivery of riffs, bass, and drumming. It's the same early Arch Enemy unity, but with a radiant slant. The best of these is the cryptic, brooding verses of "Seed Of Hate" preceding the song's unassailable tightness in untouchable lead prowess and Liiva's fervent delivery.

The bonus tracks make a great expansion and top this album off better than the uneventful title track does. It includes a nifty, inscrutable instrumental called "Hydra" that'll leave chills. Title track aside, this is another stellar offering that ends the original trilogy of awesome Arch Enemy albums. To have continued down this direction would have made them a powerhouse in a different right than the mundane joke they're considered now.

An aesthetically pleasing bridge of embers. - 86%

hells_unicorn, December 18th, 2011

The earlier days of Arch Enemy are a curiosity of sorts, inspiring a strong devotion amongst older school melodeath and death metal fans, and even roping in some outside of the general paradigm. At first glance, one might assume the preference for the period over the Gossow era to be merely a vocal one in the alleged chauvinistic tendencies that the extreme metal scene is often alleged to carry. However, a thorough parsing of the radical difference in overall sound reveals that with maybe the exception of the soon to follow “Wages Of Sin”, this is all but an entirely different band, exuding a character more in line with the archaic irreverence and socially conscious traits of the earlier 1990s.

“Burning Bridges” has been likened to a continuation of the spirit of what Michael Amott was bringing to the latter day Carcass sound (along with the two preceding albums). While there is a bit to this, the overall sound of this album actually points a bit more towards the “Symbolic” era of Death, though accented with some of the melodic contours in line with In Flames. The pacing is along the lines of a mostly up tempo thrash album with a somewhat depressive atmospheric veil, particularly during the vocal sections when riff layering creates a shimmering atmosphere that lightens the otherwise heavy punch of the usual lower end riffing associated with straight line death metal.

Much like the later albums with Gossow, this era is heavily guitar oriented, maintaining the soloing showmanship that was generally associated with the style’s thrash roots and avoiding the more recent trend of dumbing down the style. The Amott brothers prove quite apt at rivaling a number of progressive outfits with a variety of stylistic influences, sometimes embracing the wildly erratic character of Slayer, at others leaning towards a Petrucci sound that incorporates as much idiomatic melodic material as it does fluid shredding licks. A good example of this sense of contrast manifests in the mellow neo-classical interlude of “Demonic Science”, which all but hearkens to something heard on an early 90s Helloween album and is among a few of the quirkier moments on here.

Vocalist Johan Liiva, whom the band soon ejected for allegedly not getting the job done behind the microphone, is something of an outlier when measured against other bands that have embraced the Gothenburg sound. He’s more in line with a mid-80s Teutonic thrash vocalist mixed with a less guttural John Tardy than anything else, at times almost sounding like he’s actually singing. It brings a more old school feel to the overall arrangement, morphing faster songs like “The Immortal” and “Angel Claw” into something not all that far removed from a Kreator song mixed with a tiny hint of Iron Maiden during the brief instrumental passes, and on the lone doom-infused title song “Burning Bridges” almost hits upon the early death/doom sound of the early 90s.

Ultimately, what makes this album unique also proves to be a slight Achilles heel of sorts. It’s clear that while the overall air of this is pretty conservative, there is a clear effort at versatility that makes for a few odd, out of place moments (particularly on “Demonic Science”). But this is definitely on the more essential side of the equation, particularly when measured against the bulk of many contemporary melodeath offerings. It manages to be catchy and also nasty enough to remind of what originally shocked the masses when death metal was first born, which is an impressive middle ground to accomplish for a style that is often dismissed as too mainstream for the truer wings of metal’s true believers.

Johan Liiva, man. - 89%

Andromeda_Unchained, December 5th, 2011

Arch Enemy have always been a band I've enjoyed, and they were - along with Carcass - instrumental to my wanderings into the more extreme side of the metal spectrum. I especially enjoyed the band when Johan Liiva was unleashing his furious, neurotic vocal style. In fact I'd say he was amongst my favorite death metal vocalists, as the way he conveys emotion throughout his tormented barks really strikes a chord with me, and comes off excellent.

The earlier Arch Enemy material often felt to me like the spiritual successor to the work Carcass laid down on Heartwork, (and okay, I guess Wages of Sin had one or two moments which would bring Carcass to mind). This of course would spring from the guitar approach of the Amott brothers, particularly Mike, who I feel did a lot in helping shape Swedish death metal in general. Their approach to melody and harmony is about as identifiably Scandinavian as it comes, with that decidedly home-grown style of down-tuned Maiden harmonies which again was one of the hallmarks of Heartwork.

Here Arch Enemy were right on the cusp of becoming the power metal band on steroids that recorded Wages Of Sin, fortunately they still had their balls firmly intact (no pun intended what-so-ever), although this is definitely the cut off point in the band's discography, heralded by both the coming stylistic change and change in vocalist. Here though, the band could still tear heads like their leaner, meaner brothers in Stockholm. As I've said before, this album is fairly reminiscent of Heartwork, though light years away from being a carbon clone. Tracks such as "The Immortal" and "Angel Claw" display this notion quite well quite well.

"Dead Inside" is about the most atypical Arch Enemy number here, and especially at this particular point in their career signposts their stlye perfecty. Certainly one of the bands finer numbers. "Seed of Hate" sees the band treading the waters of eighties metal worship, with a definite "Bark at the Moon" vibe going on. Without a doubt an enjoyable track, although just like "Dead Inside" would signpost Arch Enemy at the time of recording, "Seed of Hate" stands as somewhat an indicator to the future. Those looking for some of the aforementioned head tearing should look towards "Silverwing" and "Demonic Science" which deliver some serious Swedish style death metal chops.

I tend think Burning Bridges is the finest of the Arch Enemy offerings, and would definitely say that this was one of the stronger releases to come from the oft maligned Gothenburg crowd. The band didn't put a foot wrong here, and if there was any Arch Enemy album you should hear once my vote would go to this.

Edited 24/11/13 to actually make sense.

Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges - 90%

Orbitball, August 12th, 2010

Alright, well this album is a great follow up from "Stigmata" (1998), but it lacks the heaviness of that their predecessor dishes out. Yes, it does this, but that doesn't make it a not so phenomenal release. Too many people, after they heard "Burning Bridges", gave it a lot of negative press and I heard a lot complaints. That would be such as the production not being thick enough, the leads were half-assed, and some guitar parts are just merely monotonous. The hell with that because there are some riffs on this release, especially the chorus of the song "Pilgrim", which makes my arm hair standup just to hear it.

I agree that there will be no more "Stigmata" for the band. But like releases because that one is almost impossible for them to ever duplicate. But they didn't give up like At The Gates did after "Slaughter of the Soul" (1995). Sit down and listen, Arch Enemy has tons of material on here I think you'll learn to respect over time. To those metal guitarists, they are in B-tuning on here. That makes the music sound heavier and more brutal. However, this album remains to pull off melodic riffs with Johan not drowing out the riffs. Michael Amott coached Johan through the release to this album. His vocals go hand in hand with the songs quite well.

Check out the songs "The Immortal", "Pilgrim", "Dead Inside" and "Silverwing." These, to me, are my personal favorite tracks. The later version of this release contains live songs, both new and old. The bonus CD features 17 tacks in all and runs for about 75 minutes in-length altogether. They are still able to pull off great the melodic riffs captured on their live songs. Definitely a good thing.

A lot of the lyrics and sounds of it reveal dark depression some of us humans go throughout every day of our lives. To connect with that type of melancholy is great when you're really in that type of mood or maybe not? Nevertheless, "Burning Bridges" offers variety in songwriting style with no blast beating, but just great overall melodic death all the way through. They have a bonus track on here by Iron Maiden entitled "Aces High."

Johan Liiva, their previous vocalist, puts for I think his best vocal effort ever for Arch Enemy, making it that much easier to get into. Plus, it fits the music much better than say on the first Arch Enemy release entitled "Black Earth" (1996). The regular release of "Burning Bridges" isn't that track lengthy, but cherish every song because it will not let you down with just mediocre melodic death metal. Come on, this is Arch Enemy we are speaking of, they are giants within their own genre. Own it, now.

Burning bridges since '99 - 88%

octure, June 11th, 2010

I was fortunate enough to have received this album as a freebie when Arch Enemy came to play here in the Philippines last year. I consider this to be my favorite pre-Gossow Arch Enemy album. While this isn't as heavy as 'Stigmata' or 'Black Earth', this is a more focused and consistent effort rather than merely a Michael Amott solo project that some people felt with the previous records.

The songs move towards a mix of thrash, melodic death, groove and at times, 80's metal. This made them differ from other Swedish melodic metal bands in the day. Even though they put more emphasis on melody this time, tracks are still generally fast paced with hints of thrash and groove all around. Worth mentioning is 'Silverwing', one of the highlights on this album with its amazing harmonious intro, the thrashing verse section, and the very melodic and anthemic chorus and solo section.

Unsurprisingly, the guitar work is tremendous here, thanks to the Amott brothers. A hardcore Arch Enemy listener could probably always recognize Michael Amott's signature sound. That is what is present here, especially on the leads and solos. The solo section on 'The Immortal' is another highlight here as well as 'Angelclaw'. Christopher Amott deserves his kudos too, given that he is the more technical of the two soloists. One of the reasons why I pointed out that this was a focused album is that the rhythm division (bass & drums) could really keep the structure and cadence of the songs even if they are uncomplicated and straightforward. The oddest song here would have to be the title track. It is quite slow-paced, and backed with atmospheric keyboards and piano towards the end but sad to say, it was ultimately lackluster. I would have preferred a simple instrumental track and another shorter full song. Finally, Johan Liiva’s trademark vocal delivery is still what it is, the mid-ranged and abrasive bark, although I felt that it was a bit weaker now than on ‘Stigmata’.

What I hear is an Arch Enemy that shifted to a more melodic approach which in turn could have most likely marked the transition towards 'Wages of Sin'. Overall, the album has a cleaner and more refined sound than its predecessors, almost giving a feeling and sense of triumph and conquest. Sacrificing intensity of previous albums for catchy melodies and grooves does not signal a regression from form. In fact, I believe that Arch Enemy had attained their true essence with 'Burning Bridges'. If you’re interested in checking out the old Arch Enemy, this is a pretty good starting point.

Words can't do this justice - 100%

Kilroy, November 12th, 2006

The mixed reaction this album gets on here really surprises me. Musicianship from another planet, massive hooks, great melodies...what more could you want in an album? Okay, so it's not a straight-up thrashfest, and it's obviously very 80s influenced, but I don't see Arch Enemy ripping earlier bands off so much as paying them tribute. Burning Bridges is still very original, and would mark the turning point in Arch Enemy's career between aggression and catchiness.

First off, there's nothing wrong with being catchy if it's done well, and this album does it better than almost anything. Looking for an anthemic chorus? Look no further than "Silverwing," Arch Enemy's most melodic song and perfect for explaining to your not-so-metal friends what you're doing listening to all this screaming. Want to rip the paint off your neighbor's walls? Crank up the beginning of "Demonic Science" and feel the floor shake. Most of these songs shift around and change ideas a lot, and in ways more noticeable than, say, a slightly different thrash rhythm every half-minute. We're talking melodies getting stacked on top of each other and total mood shifts behind soaring solos. You'll find this stuff getting stuck in your head fast, but you won't object to it being there.

Though Johan Liiva does a good job with the death vocals here (he would be replaced by Angela Gossow after this album), the real stars are, of course, Mike and Christopher Amott. This is one of the best overall efforts by a guitar duo to hit tape. It's not as shred-tastic as Cacophony, but it still rips, and these guys have a load of feel to their playing too. Mike, in particular, practically shows the Kirk Hammetts of the world that they know nothing about the wah pedal. Honestly, I will put Mike Amott's wah phrasing above anyone to ever use the effect, and his overall feel is better than most blues players. Chris is more of the straight shredding counterpoint to Mike, and he comes up with some great stuff too; that seriously awesome opening riff in "Seed of Hate" is entirely his work, as is the rest of the song. Anyone who likes good guitar playing has no excuse not to track this album down.

The only weak spot in this album is the closing title track. It's more straight doom metal than anything, and compared to the total melodic insanity of the previous tracks, it's out of place. The lyrics for it are also incredibly lame (not that you should be listening to this sort of thing for the lyrics anyway!), and it doesn't even end with a crushing final chord; instead, it stops like a vinyl record. Arch Enemy would later perfect occassional doom moments, as in the intro and interlude to "Savage Messiah" from Wages of Sin. But the rest of the album is so ridiculously good that this little experiment doesn't ruin it. In my opinion, this is Arch Enemy's best album and the de-facto starting point if you've never heard them. It's also one of the best melodic death albums ever recorded...no, wait, I'll go further and call it one of the best metal albums ever. Like the title of my review says, words can't do this justice. Go listen to this now.

Simple and effective - 83%

invaded, July 20th, 2006

This is the Arch Enemy lineup that many fans wish still existed today. But gone are Johan Liiva and Christopher Ammott. However, this record showcases the first lineup, with simple and catchy riffs, simple song strucures and some very cool lead playing. This is how AE should have kept it. This album doesn't show off full on wankery, more like tasteful and skillfull playing by one of metal's top brother tandems.

The band was still pretty green, yet there is an undeniable intensity and authenticity about this release that appeals to me. "The Immortal" is a classic, a song the band still plays often live to this day. The main riffs and leads are great and the rythm is pummeling and worthy of the horns. "Dead Inside" has a nice intensity to it, "Pilgrim" has some ferocious riffing mixed with a catchy as hell chorus that inspires my head to bang. Once again the lead playing is tasteful and fits the tune really well. "Demonic Science" is another standout track with a ferocity so genuine you can just picture the dudes jamming in a crummy basement. "Seed of Hate" is another rocker. I'm a sucker for catchy and groovy riffs and this album has these to the brim. "Angelclaw" is a very melodic track, very reminiscent of what the band would go into a little further later on. The track gets to a fast paced tempo and the riffing is once again very clean and precise.

The vocals on the record are not outstanding. I prefer Angela Gossow's pipes myself, although her last couple of records have not been that good(although she can hardly be blamed for it!). Johan Liiva was pretty good and fit the band's sound on this release. He doesn't stand out but nor does he dimninish the record's quality. The playing here, especially on guitars, is spectacular. The leads seem so effortlessly produced and the Ammott brothers always have a very accurate touch on their respective instruments. The drums are also steady, but Daniel Erlandsson left his best playing for Wages of Sin.

My only real flack with this record is that the closing track is not very good at all. The title track is slow and boring and does not encompass anything of what the band's sound is about. This track did not belong on what besides this is a pretty good record.

For those who like to wave the nostalgia flag, this one's for you.

Gothenburg that doesn't utterly suck - 58%

UltraBoris, December 30th, 2002

Okay it's not good either. But at least the Iron Maiden riff recycling isn't as hideously overt, and there are even some thrash riffs in here. And, best of all, the riffs aren't completely forgotten under the verses. They are, however, completely forgettable. That is the main drawback of the album, that while there are some neat intro riffs, and whatnot, the entire structure of the song is not dominated by them. Under the verses, the guitar work just tends to get kinda sloppy... for example, note "The Immortal." Before the first verse, a cool intro riff. After that verse, a very nice riff as well. Under the verse? Some noise, really.

"Pilgrim" - special mention. The chorus riff is totally David Bowie's "Panic in Detroit". Yes, there are such overt melodic moments and at times the album sounds almost Helloween-ish (see intro riff to "Silverwing" which is one section of some Walls of Jericho solo, repeated over and over again).

So overall what we have here is a real mishmash, which is typical of Gothenburg. The riff construction ranges from the horrible to the decent, and is more of the latter. However, there is really only one or two really really great riffs in every song, and they tend to get buried. For instance, the best riff in Silverwing is at around 1.13 and occurs for all of one second.

"Angelclaw" is probably the highlight, because it rides that nice thrashy intro riff for a while, and then in the middle has some great lead work. Oh yes, there is no questioning the lead work here - that's absolutely fantastic. It's the riffs that need some help. Too little attention is paid to the transitions between good riffs, and bad ones are put in way too often.