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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, 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.