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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Enemy is probably the most famous band which features a female growler - that used to be famous Angela Gossow who's now been replaced by Alissa White-Gluz.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.