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Rise! The Tyrants Rise! - 93%

Mark_Palangio, August 18th, 2007

When Arch Enemy decided to replace vocalist Johan Liiva with Angela Gossow back in November of 2000, many people thought bringing in a female vocalist was just a gimmick. Gossow soon proved that she wasn’t a gimmick, but Arch Enemy just wasn’t the same without Johan to a lot of long time fans, including myself. With Rise Of The Tyrant, I can safely say it’s the best album Arch Enemy has recorded with Angela in the band, and also the best album they’ve released since Burning Bridges.

What makes this album different from their previous few albums (Wages Of Sin, Anthems Of Rebellion, and Doomsday Machine) is the fact that the band seems to have went back to their older style a bit. What I mean by that is more aggressive riffs, more subtle synth sections, and more catchy melodies throughout the songs. Doomsday Machine was filled with lots of crazy solos, but I thought it lacked on the melodies that the Amott brothers are famous for. There’s no shortage of them in Rise Of The Tyrant however. The opening song, “Blood On Your Hands,” has one of the most epic sounding melodies I’ve ever heard. It’s also the best song on the album, and one of the best songs the band has ever written. It would honestly fit in perfectly on Stigmata or Burning Bridges. I would just love to hear Johan come back and do the vocals for that song, but the chances of that ever happening are pretty nonexistent. Some of the riffs here and there will even remind you a bit of Heartwork era Carcass stuff. Those riffs are pretty few and far between, but it’s still cool to hear some stuff like that again. Other songs like “The Last Enemy,” “I Will Live Again,” “Rise Of The Tyrant,” and “The Day You Died” have really memorable melody lines as well.

One main reason I think this album is a bit of a throwback to their older style is the fact that the band went back to Studio Fredman to record with famed producer Fredrik Nordstrom. Considering the band recorded their first 4 albums (Black Earth, Stigmata, Burning Bridges, and Burning Japan) there, it’s no surprise that this album turned out the way it did. The production on Rise Of The Tyrant is also very different than any of the bands previous albums, and especially different from their old albums recorded at Studio Fredman. The guitars have a huge, thick midrange crunch to them, and the low end frequencies are no longer overwhelming. More importantly, Angela’s vocals are no longer drenched in layers upon layers of effects, which makes her sound significantly better. Overall the production is exactly what you would expect from Nordstrom, perfection.

There’s really nothing negative I can say about this album. It does take a couple listens to really appreciate though. After listening through the first time, I wasn’t really that impressed aside from “Blood On Your Hands.” After a few more listens I started liking it more and more though, and now I love it. There are no bad songs on the album, and there are more great songs than good songs, but I really wish every song would have been as good as the opening track.

If you’re a big fan of Arch Enemy’s older albums and have been disappointed with their material since Angela joined the band, this is definitely an album worth picking up. I’m not saying this album is better than Stigmata or Burning Bridges, but it’s definitely got the feel of those older albums.