Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Let the killing begin - 96%

Writhingchaos, July 29th, 2016

I unfortunately have been very late to the party as far as the pre-Gossow era Arch Enemy is concerned. Thankfully within the last year and a half I have been able to remedy that situation with haste and while I still can’t really pick an overall favourite among the amazing trifecta of Black Earth, Stigmata and Burning Bridges, this vicious slab of extremity is definitely the band at their heaviest and most creative to boot. The two other albums feature a different approach and style as far as brutality and songwriting is concerned that I also dig, but in my opinion this is the one to beat. I don’t know if a lot of you would be aware of this, but it has a lot of cross appeal to many different kinds of metal fans, especially fans of 80s heavy metal and thrash. Hell even the hardiest die-hard fans of old school death metal could definitely like parts of this album if they just gave it a shot. There’s definitely something for everyone here.

As all of you have heard a thousand times before, these guys along with Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates and In Flames were pretty much the pioneers of melodeath back in the mid-90s. Soilwork as well, but they arrived on the scene a few years later. The first song off the album “Beast Of Man” should be enough to tell you that this band were a hell of a lot more technical than their peers plus their vicious intensity was matchless back in the day. Think the perfect melding of Human / ITP era Death, (yeah I know I’ve been saying that a lot in my recent reviews) the flowing catchy melodies of Iron Maiden and the brutality of the early classic Swedeath bands namely Entombed and Dismember. I honestly think the slight technical death metal influence (of the old guard, of course) gave Arch Enemy an overall edge over other bands in the genre. The solo sections are aplenty of course, but this album merges both the lead and pummeling rhythm sections in a way that was rarely seen back in the day. Lastly everyone pretty much knows that the Amott bros virtuosity was unmatched and no more is it more evident than on this album. That too on every fucking song. Just trust me on that one. "Arch Enemy" is a beautiful emotive piano interlude with amazing leads that acts as a breather from the relentlessness of the previous 7 songs. There are even a few clean picking sections on songs like "Let The Killing Begin" and the like. Also surprisingly a boatload of later-era (to be more precise, the Gossow era) Arch enemy riffs are also found on this album. Not in an out-and-out plagiarizing sense, but they are definitely similar, so I really don't get how there are still some fans out there arguing that the music of the current avatar of the band is actually better than the music on this album.

Now Johan Liiva’s vocals being more of a hardcore bark/shout with a very slight undercurrent of growls to them seem to be a bone of contention for some and while I can understand that some die-hard melodeath fans would have a bit of a problem, the overall music is just so good that I couldn’t care less. In any case his vocals don’t come in the way or anything or is there anything wrong with them at all in that sense, just a tad weak in delivery plus you do kind of crave for a bit of variety in them, like a bit more high pitched screams to accentuate his vocals. Anyway that’s too small a complaint to even be bothered about. "Black Earth" is one hell of a scorcher and the best song on the album for obvious reasons with a killer bellowing chorus of "BLACK!! EARTH!! SAVE! OUR! SOULS!" and a hyper headbanging riff backing it. After an atmospheric intro, "Tears Of The Dead" kicks in with one of the best riff progressions of the entire album at 0: 15 that is bound to get your neck snapping in no time. "Bridge Of Destiny" is another winner and the outro progression that starts at 5:32 is just out of this world. Goddamn this is sick. Even though it probably won't happen, I would honestly kill to see the band perform any of these songs live.

Although I would still give the edge to Wages Of Sin for being the best all-round album, this one isn't that far behind at all. In fact, if it weren't for the slightly lackluster vocals and thin production this doozie would've gotten a straight 100 for sure and at the end of the day, it's right up their with the aforementioned album as one of their best. Like I already said, there's something for every metalhead out here.

Neither painful nor precise - 72%

gasmask_colostomy, January 17th, 2016

Let's not beat about the bush, this album frustrates me. As with the following year's 'Burning Bridges', the album jumps out of the gate with its best and most energetic track, then proceeds to wallow in mediocrity at later stages. My question is this: if Arch Enemy were capable of writing 'Beast of Man', couldn't they have written something else approaching similar levels of brilliance, or at least made sure that the other songs were free of tedious moments? My major gripe with the album is thus its varied quality and also the regular dips in intensity that are caused due to the longer songs seen on 'Stigmata'.

We are in the precincts of melodic death metal with Arch Enemy, though I believe that this band sounds little like In Flames or Dark Tranquillity, nor much like At the Gates. During some of the heavier sections, they play uncompromised death metal parts that barely differ from the tradition of that genre, while their leads always blend virtuosity and melody together, instead of concentrating on the folky exuberance of In Flames's signature sound. There are also many catchier riffs that sound modern in the same way that 'Slaughter of the Soul' sounded modern, prefiguring some of the metalcore bands who later emerged, though often using a more subtle, integrated approach to the chug-and-fill style. With Arch Enemy, there has always been a tendency to slow down as well, which we can witness on the gruelling death doom of 'Dark of the Sun'. This suits the band well in the crushing chorus, as well as for the licks thrown into the pre-chorus, but the chugging verse is plain and dry, while the whole song drags itself out to 7 minutes, making those disappointing parts glaringly obvious.

That slower, plainer style is what bugs 'Stigmata', since 'Let the Killing Begin' is a prime example of a track that has been forgotten (or should be forgotten), with that horrible nothing-y groove riff that lasts for ever and makes no impression. 'Black Earth' redeems itself by having more energy than 'Let the Killing Begin', but has the most horrible slow chords thrown in the middle of verses for no apparent reason, utterly breaking the momentum and atmosphere that the faster parts have begun building. The other songs generally fare better, with even the short introductions containing decent melodic material, though little of lasting interest. Aside from the strong statement of 'Beast of Man', 'Tears of the Dead' is great, getting a strong marching groove into the verse and a chorus that really kicks up the intensity.

All of the musicians are performing similar roles to those that they would later play on 'Burning Bridges', with the only grumble being the production, which holds the guitars back at times and makes the sound broader and sludgier than the melodic material requires. Bass is there or thereabouts, though isn't helpful at giving more definition to the sounds, in fact adding to the low-pitched and sludgy affair. Johan Liiva has been accused of ineptitude on vocals, yet his visceral, rather unskilled attack suits the style and doesn't particularly hold the band back. What Arch Enemy lack here is not the chops but instead the planning that would have made this album so much stronger: cutting weak riffs, attending to overlong structures, and bolstering the production could change this from a decent outing with several flaws into a really impressive and interesting melodeath release. This doesn't hurt nearly so much, nor has so precise an end point in view, as the needled blue guy on the cover.

It's just a shame about Johan Liiva's vocals... - 78%

PorcupineOfDoom, October 15th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Century Media Records

Well, I finally did it. I decided to take the time to listen to one of Arch Enemy's older records, and I have to say that even reading the other reviews I knew I wasn't going to like it. Many of them seem to say that Johan's vocals are fantastic (something I disagree with to a great extent), but I hoped to at least be able to count on the guitars being good enough to cancel this out. Thankfully, for the most part this does happen.

Pretty much every track is full of an epic mix of brilliant hooks and heavy riffs, and due to the fact that it's one of the best combinations of guitarists we're talking about here, it all blends together very well. Coupled with some good drumming and bass playing (although it's not Daniel and Sharlee on this record), the music is really quite good. It's just a shame that Johan's vocals are so poor that they drag the music down to a status far lower than it otherwise would be.

I liked the track 'Bridge of Destiny' from 'The Root of All Evil', which had been re-recorded on all the instruments and had Angela doing the growls rather than Johan. And as soon as the song starts, I can tell I won't like it as much. The guitars don't sound as crisp as on the newer recording and just generally don't sound as good. Coupled with Johan's vocals being nowhere near the caliber of Angela's (I can barely tell what he's trying to do here, it just sounds like he's talking), the song just isn't as good. People can say what they want about 'The Root of All Evil' being bad (and indeed it is a bit of a waste of time for a lot of fans), but most of the songs are far better after being re-recorded (there are some exceptions, such as 'Diva Satanica', one of the few AE songs that sounds better without Angela on it).

The best parts of the album are probably the solos. Every track manages to put something else into it, from 'Sinister Mephisto' (which is pretty boring besides the solo) to 'Bridge of Destiny' (even if it isn't as good as the newer version) to 'Tears of the Dead' (one of the best songs on the album). A lot of songs that would otherwise be lost on me due to Johan Liiva's voice suddenly have a lot more listening potential thanks to the work by Mike and Chris.

Not all of the tracks have to rely on a solo to get me there though. The opener, 'Beast of Man', is an excellent work of musical art, and I can listen to that track over and over and over again. The quality of recording does seem a little low here (although it does throughout the entire album), but the music is great. It's a lovely mix of heavy verses that are almost raw death metal and some memorable hooks in the chorus. Daniel Erlandsson is also on this track, so the drumming is more what I'm used to and it fits well with what the Amott brothers are playing (not that it doesn't on the other tracks). What I will say though is that even if it doesn't have to rely on the solo to make the song good, that's still the best part of the song, and it does help to tip the bar a lot further in the direction of liking the song than it would have been without it.

To sum everything on this album up, Mike and Chris deserve a big congratulations for performing such incredible stuff. Not just them, but the drummer Peter Wildoer and bassist Martin Bengtsson for the solid job that they do as well (even if I do prefer the guys that replaced them). The only thing that are missing from this record are better vocals (as you might have figured out by this point), and it's quite strange to realise how much of an impact they actually have on the music. Previously I could just kind of listen to the music for the melody that the other instruments create, but now I know that's not the case.

Only a Flesh Wound! - 94%

DemonFeces, August 26th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Century Media Records

After Mike Amott's last contributions to the legendary Carcass, he formed Arch Enemy with brother Chris to ride the wave of the then up-and-coming melodic death metal genre. As with basically every band ever, they started off strong and have since slumped into the pit of suck. 16 years later Amott and co. are currently hitting stages alongside other sub-par acts based on the stratagem of a female-fronted, family-friendly pseudo-melodic 'metal' band. If you're a more modern fan, I suggest you fuck off. This doesn't concern you. Maybe this is why I like history so much...

As Beast of Man tears your tweeters asunder, the first thing you'll notice here, is that this album has balls. We can thank our good fiend, Freddy Nordström, for adding some true heaviness to this slab. I can't help but find myself wondering, 'what the fuck happened'? This was recorded in 1997...says so right there. Has the illusion portrayed by the inferior schtick that today's groups are releasing [i. e. modern-era AE] as melodeath taken hold? Seriously, what the fuck? The difference is this offering actually has DEATH METAL in it, and in 2014 it still sounds more muscular than the air-brushed scene productions we hear today. Shameful.

A guitarist's wet dream: Six strings dripping with semen, inverted, piercing the twat of some large-breasted leper as she slowly bleeds to death....It is sheer joy to hear the shredding of the Amott brothers. Uh, Stigmata anyone? Think of those leads from Blind Bleeding the Blind and Pedigree Butchery. Mike took huge inspiration from Bill Steer (how could he not?) and created similar licks and leads that are here aplenty but with a certain majestic poise about them. I'd call this adventurous work; it feels like trekking through the forests of an ancient land. Above you skies change from a foggy grey dawn [Dark of the Sun] to a blistering scorched afternoon [Black Earth] into the moonlit haunted evening [Bridge of Destiny via Vox Stellarum]. In between you are thrust into the thick of battle [Let the Killing Begin] with it's militaristic snares marching forward & almost-silent, lucid and BASS-Y moments of blood-smeared clarity. "As the beauty of Death sets in."

The lyrics are penned mostly by Mike and are your standard fare. I'll mention briefly that Johan Liiva's vocals are nothing to get excited about. Some of you may be interested to know that they are of the 'clean-gruff' variety wherein you may discern a few words here and there but overall, totally forgettable, even pointless.

In conclusion, this is well-written material with a huge emphasis on guitar-playing. I want to stress that and make the distinction between well-done and 'wanking.' All leads and solos are integral pieces to the compositions herein. If you have a copy of this, cherish it. It may be the apex of AE's career.

Super Amott Bros. 2 - 98%

OzzyApu, March 16th, 2013

Stigmata is not only the best Arch Enemy album, but one that reigns as one of the best of the melodic death genre. It furthers the dark nature of Black Earth and pushes it to a heavier, more profound direction. Not one song on here doesn't contribute to this album's core ethos of Iron Maiden's vivaciousness and death metal's wildness. With impeccable leads, furious riffs, and a cosmic scope, Stigmata is the most impressive, expansive Arch Enemy album and a lasting artifact of this era of melodic death metal.

The Amott brothers are at their tightest here. The shredded riffs expressed through that ripping distortion and tagged with booming bass is one of the cleanest-yet-grated jobs the band had. It makes for both rupturing, chaotic moments and melodic, expressive ones without disjointed, incoherent playing. To match is the straightforward, extroverted writing like on the soaring, vigorous title track or the massive, vast atmosphere "Bridge Of Destiny" with its faultless use of poignant twin harmonies. The rumbling bass underneath it all creates a gloomy tone who's notes are beastly and thick. Drumming as well is hectic and pummeling without overpowering the guitars. That tells of the wonderful production and proper balance between everything to capture that bliss point of melody and unobstructed aggression.

Liiva's yells and barks do not falter, either, as he gives his most memorable performances. At times it may be preferred that he do actual growling, but his style fits so well here that there's no other voice to capture the same imposing sound. The best of this and everything else is on what amounts to be Arch Enemy's best song, "Black Earth". This is rage like the band never wrote before or after. Dark, ominous, enigmatic, spacey, and with doom and intensity like no other in the genre, "Black Earth" evokes an ageless sound. The song may be a little too dissonant following the tail end of that reverent solo section, but the rest of it captures a feeling of terror (especially with that opening).

Stigmata signifies the best of Arch Enemy's capabilities. From the forces of riffs to the more melodic, piano-led expressions of "Vox Stellarum," the arcane core of this album keeps me coming back. It's a pretty basic album, but it mixes the right amount of death and power metal-esque leads into melodic death to be a genre classic.

Heavy enough to make hands bleed. - 89%

hells_unicorn, December 21st, 2011

The early years of Arch Enemy are an interesting affair, in no small part because the true orthodoxy of melodeath had yet to establish itself. Amongst the Gothenburg crowd, the end of At The Gates came about and the subsequent stylistic metamorphosis of In Flames and Dark Tranquillity were starting to go underway, though they still retained much of their strength. Some of the more mainstream friendly outfits such as Amon Amarth were just getting started and not quite settled into their respective niches yet, and the whole folk infused melodic death/black metal craze was still a twinkle in the eyes of the likes of Windir and Suidakra. In keeping with all of this, the output of Michael Amott's new creation didn't have a stylistic trend to conform itself to, thus it largely falls back on a reliance to older conventions with a somewhat newer interpretation.

"Stigmata" can be seen as a throwback to the early 90s in some respects, carrying a good helping of the dark yet consonant elements of "Human" and "Individual Thought Patterns", the thrashing nastiness of "Blessed Are The Sick", merged together with a melodic sensibility that is very much similar to the archaic, repetitive conventions of later 80s and early 90s Iron Maiden. Perhaps the biggest thing that keeps this album anchored firmly in a sense of olden aggression is the thick yet solid guitar sound, which is down-tuned to the levels of latter day Slayer, and with chunky speed riffs to boot. Along for the ride is the usual barrage of impressive lead guitar gymnastics, but presented in a way that is not quite as overtly neo-classical, but more of a merging of the wild shredding of Cannibal Corpse and the traditionally rock oriented character of the Smith vs. Murray duels heard on "Piece Of Mind" and "Powerslave".

These are the sort of songs that most fans of older death metal can probably get into, even with all the lighter melodic lead passages that remind more of 1986 than 1998. The lead off song "Beast Of Man" and the equally fast yet catchy "Sinister Mephisto" showcase an intricate merging of heavier mid-paced poundage with the older, fast paced death/thrash character that was done all but to a fault on "Scream Bloody Gore". "Dark Of The Sun" proves to be among the more menacing and evil sounding monsters to come out of the melodeath strain, resembling mid-90s Morbid Angel almost as much as it does In Flames, trading back and forth between a sorrowful melodic instrumental section and a gut-crushing stomp that sounds like something heard off of "Domination". But the ultimate highlight of this evenly built piece of raging darkness is "Black Earth", which hearkens back the closest to the extreme conventions that are often avoided in this genre, being heavy enough for Obituary yet with enough of a catchy pull to it to rope in the rank and file In Flames fan.

While not quite the greatest thing to ever come out of the Swedish death scene, this is a pretty solid contender amongst even the less melodic, old school releases that are often the recipients of high praise amongst the purists. One of the major draws, and one that the band ended up parting ways with in favor of something that pushed them a bit further into conformity with the crowd, is Johan Liiva's mad dog barks. He's more in line with the conventional death metal grunt of the early 90s before Lord Worm and Chris Barnes started mixing in higher pitched shrieks, and also before a slight influence from the neighboring black metal scene began to inject an even higher pitched and more garbled take on screaming to the mix. While stylistically this takes some nods from the Gothenburg trio, vocally it's a lot closer to a number of Florida outfits, and thus comes an interesting blend of old and new that usually makes transitional albums all the more interesting. "Stigmata" is definitely an album with strong crossover appeal, and even the die-hard late 80s death metal cultists should give this album the once over.

True Melodic Death Metal - 80%

Human666, October 11th, 2011

'Stigmata' is the classic example of how melodic death metal should sound: Two and half steps down tuned guitars, melodic oriented riffs without loosing any death metal elements, beastly growls, sharp rhythm section, heavy production and diverse song structures. In 1998 the melodic death metal movement was beyond his glory days: 'At The Gates' disbanded after a quartet of well known classics, 'In Flames' began to lose their creativity and turned to a commercial type of songwriting and so was 'Dark Tranquillity'. 'Arch Enemy' deteriorated artistically over the years as well, but in 1998 they released a honest piece of melodic death metal that makes their 00's albums looks ridiculous and overly commercial.

'Beast Of Man' is a great opening track. There are many fast tremolo picked riffs and blast beating drums that showcase the nature of this album pretty well: 'Stigmata' is an album that always search for melodic theme but doesn't compromise on brutality for a sole moment. 'Johan Liiva' appears to be an outstanding vocalist: his growl is not too guttural, he sounds quite humane but still maintain a harsh timbre without harming the pronunciation of the lyrics. The title track is a short two minutes instrumental that exhibit the Amott brothers guitar skills very well. Highly technical yet melodic guitar harmonies will sweep your ear and will leave you hypnotized until the next song begin. 'Sinister Mephisto' is the best track here in my opinion. It has a well developing structure and tons of heavy riffs and superior drumming. The chorus is catchy as hell with it's harmonized dual guitars and plain vocals and there are more shred guitar to be found here in the C-part of this song.

Another highlight of this album is 'Let the Killing Begin'. There are some mean guitar riffs to be found here plus very technical and aggressive drumming that will force you to head bang till your neck break. The chorus remind me a bit of 'Bury Me an Angel ' from their debut album, but it's still a superb melodic and heavy one that bring the catchiness level of this song some levels up. Rest of the tracks in this album lack a bit of the sharpness the former tracks had, but these are still a collection of decent melodic death metal that is well written and accurately performed.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable record. Michael and Christopher amott are quite talented guitar players and proved an amazing writing skills in 'Stigmata' with tons of topnotch guitar riffs and leads. Get this album if you aren't familiar with Arch Enemy's old school catalog, you'll be surprised to find a way more creative and quality band from the one that is active nowadays.

Arch Enemy - Stigmata - 95%

Orbitball, July 1st, 2011

This legendary Swedish melodic death metal act needn't an introduction, especially since they're well established and have been for over 16 years. The lineup on this release features Johan Liiva on vocals, Michael Amott on guitars, Christopher Amott on guitars, Martin Bengtsson on bass, and Daniel Erlandsson on drums.

There is no intro just tremolo picked guitar riffs that give you the overall dark feel of the release. This album is filled with melodic overtures, B-tuned thick guitars, and Johan's distinctive low throat. The guitar riffs are entirely unique, imaginative, creative, melodic and quite memorable. This I believe to be the band's best output in their entire discography. It's too bad Johan isn't still on vocals.

The music is what's the most enduring. There's a combination of sweet distinct songs on this original sounding overall release. It features the band's unbelievably awesome writing capabilities. Songs such as "Beast of Man", "Dark of the Sun" and "Bridge of Destiny" feature such great catchy guitar bits. Christopher dominates on lead, while Michael overuses that wah-pedal. It would be ideal if Michael was solely on rhythm guitar.

Christopher is way more technical than his brother on lead, but Michael still has some good melodic solos that compliment the album. That chunky guitar is what is most admirable. The bass guitar was hard to hear. It was barely audible during the entire album. That is where I think is the weakest point is on the album. Everything else blends well in it's entirety. Nothing else lagging behind except the bass.

This is an album where you can't really get sick of because it's simply intoxicating, especially if you're a melodic death freak like me. The leads, rhythms, vocals, and drums are perfectly executed without much discretion. There is nothing not to like here since the melodies shine so well here. Without a doubt, "Stigmata" reigns in its' entirety and remains to be the most ideal melodic death metal release that Arch Enemy has ever put out!

Arch Enemy's Best - 93%

ImpureSoul, March 16th, 2010

Since Johan Liiva's departure in 2000 and Angela Gossow's introduction to the band as the new vocalist in 2001, Arch Enemy fans have been split in half. As the years went on, most of the old fans dropped away from Arch Enemy and new ones came in to hear what they thought to be the only metal band with a female growler/screamer. They started calling the old music garbage, too.

But I think differently. While I don't completely hate the Gossow period, the Johan Liiva period was what made the band tight and original, and not only because of Johan's barking vocals that were neither growl or scream. The quitars were also very, very technical. The riffs were intense, and didn't sound forcibly "talented". The solos were incredible, not only demonstrating the talent and teamwork behind the Amott brothers, but they wanted to make you stand on your roof and raise your fist in triumph. They made you feel like breaking through brick walls. If you don't believe me, listen to the album Stigmata.

The album starts with "Beast of Man", which to me is there to show you that your listening to Arch Enemy. It's a song similar to the ones you'd hear off their debut album Black Earth. What I notice is that it's a lot more flowy than most of the stuff off of the previous album, but it keeps that brutality that only Arch Enemy can have. By Arch Enemy's standards though, it's a good song, but not great. It wouldn't have made too much of a difference to me if it had been left off, or put into another track number. It doesn't work too well as an intro song, and that's because of what comes next.

The title song is a 2 minute instrumental that kicks too much ass to decribe. Like I said above, It makes you feel like you could break through brick walls. It's incredible. THIS should be the intro song. It serves perfectly to show you what Arch Enemy is made of. I've always thought that the Amott brothers were the best part of Arch Enemy, and this song proves it. It also works perfectly as an intro to Sinister Mephisto. Instantly you see that the band has dramatically improved and grown. The song does take a mid pace for most of the time, at least compared to previous songs like Bury Me an Angel or Transmigration Macabre. The solo of Sinister Mephisto almost matches Stigmata, while sounding completely different. Every time I hear the solo, I need to rewind and hear it again. No other Arch Enemy song has ever done that much for me. It kicks the crap out of any solo on the Gossow albums, that's for sure. Johan Liiva's voice is as coarse and harsh as ever, and it definitely delivers through the entire album. His vocal performance has also noticeably improved since the last release. The drums, although not done by the well-known Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson, are really well done. I think this guy competes with Erlansson, but apparently he didn't fit what the band was "trying to acheive". Funny, that's the same reason Johan got kicked off.

The album continues in a way that almost every song brings something new to the table for Arch Enemy, without damaging their infusion of melody and brutality. Dark of the Sun is an overall slower song, but I still love it, especially the guitar section that comes in between verses. In Let the Killing Begin, Johan's vocals seem a little bit tired, for some reason. They don't seem to really put an impression on the song. The chorus riff sounds a bit like the chorus riff from Bury Me an Angel, but otherwise it's a good song, and it has another really good solo. Black Earth (yeah, that's a sng from this album) is something that Arch Enemy has never tried again. It's quite a different song, but it's a serious headbanger, and I love that intro. The vocals are particularly stong in this song, and it's good that it comes right after Let the Killing Begin. It gets you right back into Liiva's voice. I think it would be nice if a verse or two were left out, because the song seems to go on a bit too long. Vox Stellarum is the only other instrumental on the album, and it consists of a slow piano melody that's accompanied by a double guitar solo, and the two instruments go so well together. Again, nothing like this has every been done by Arch Enemy again. Moving on to the final song, which serves as a good ending song and it's also the longest Arch Enemy song every recorded, clocking at 9 minutes. It has a really nice power ballad outro remeniscent of something early Metallica would write that always resonates with me when the album ends.

The songs on Stigmata average at 5 or 6 minutes, making them a lot longer than most other Arch Enemy songs, and the overall album comes off a little slower than any other Arch Enemy album by a little bit, but they all have their fast and agressive parts, so you should be satysfied either way, and just about everything makes up for it if you aren't. Every instrument perfectly compliments each other, the down tuned guitars work really well with Johan's bass-driven voice. I always feel great listening to this album. Not only is it the best Arch Enemy album by a long shot, it's my favorite melodic death metal album too. My favorite songs here are Stigmata, Sinister Mephisto, and Dark of the sun. I love this album, and I'm kind of glad that there are so many things here that weren't done in the Gossow period. They're something that should stay solely reserved for this album.

It's really too bad Johan is gone - 95%

eatshitanddie, February 23rd, 2010

When I first put this album in, I wasn't really sure what to expect. It was my first Arch Enemy album with Johan doing the vocals. I have listened to the newer Doomsday Machine and Rise of the Tyrant albums, but once I finished Stigmata, I knew there was no comparison. Johan has a dominating voice that adds so much power to the songs. He ruled Arch Enemy.

To me, Arch Enemy with Johan and Arch Enemy with Angela are 2 different bands. And I have to say...Johan's Arch Enemy definitely rules over Angela. The vocals are one of a kind. Perfectly crafted to Mike and Chris' guitaring. Sure he didn't have amazing stage performance...(which unfortunately the reason he was booted off,) but his voice is like no other. A great metal vocalist with great sound, yet you can understand most of the lyrics. The power of his voice is amazing, spreading from the first song to the last in a perfect balance. He is definitely one of the beat metal vocalists of all time. Johan really knew how to do it.

Mike and Chris need credit where credit is due. This band wouldn't be melodic death metal without them. Great speedy riffs along with solos that swap between each of the Amott brothers really makes a kick ass sound. This album definetly holds the best of the Amott brothers. their guitar skills exceeds expectations by far in all 16 songs. One of the Amott brothers best elements are the slow deep notes that quickly hit into a speedy intricate semi-solo/riff (referring to the song stigmata) really makes a great instrumental song. Martin plays bass with some exceptional talent. His powerful bass parts add so much to the atmosphere of this album.

As for the drums, Daniel makes a sick beat. Drums mean a lot to a metal band. The constant double bass sometimes gets a little boring. But with Daniel on set, this isn't so. Different beats within beats make up a great part for set. Also, they aren't too heavy, which is nice cus you can enjoy the other instruments without overpowering them. Daniel is just a total badass with kick ass beats and nasty double bass. This kid can plow through anything. This album was a cheap recording of him but it doesn't matter. He's a total fucking tank.

There are 9 songs on this album (16 if you have the deluxe edition) and none of them are a waste. All of them have a great quality... and quantity of music. Each song leads into the next with absolute perfection. Also, the drums are in constant sync with the speedy and perfectly crafted riffs of the guitars. No other album in the genre of melodic death metal can top this. Arch Enemy is the definition of melodeath, and always will be. This is what is known as perfectly engineered melodic death metal.

"Black Earth...save our souls" - 91%

DarkSideOfLucca, July 30th, 2009

Wow, this album kicks ass left and right. Why does it seem that every single good melodic death metal band has either split-up or completely deviated genres so far away from melodic death metal that it is barely, if at all, metal anymore (except for Dark Tranquility)? Most people that I speak to are completely unaware of THIS Arch Enemy's existence. They are familiar with the much more polished production of the metalcore influenced Arch Enemy, which is a damned fucking shame. This is the complete opposite of anything that the band would later produce, and no, it's not because I don't like the fact that there is a woman doing metal vocals.

Liva's vocals are a very acquired taste. Not everyone is going to like them because they are not your every day melodic death vocal style. In fact, I don't know anything who has a style like his in all of metal, but I can't think of anyone who would so flawlessly fit the raw, dark, almost progressive feel of Stigmata. The cover art is actually a great depiction of how this album feels: bleak, artsy, raw. The lyrics fit the music perfectly, as well. "A Day will come, When the sun will rise again, Rays of black will shine, And together as one, We will walk in the dark of the sun."

This album has everything- relatively good lyrics, dark atmosphere, progressive elements ("Vox Stellarum", the guitar solo in "Let the Killing Begin"), full throttle fury ("Beast of Man", "Black Earth") very melodic moments ("Stigmata"), and a great overall flow. This is one of those albums that get more awesome each time you listen to it because there is so much going on it's almost impossible to catch on first listen. A ton of styles are blended in at once in more of a Mastodon way than some shitty grind/electro/punk whatever band. which is definitely a good thing because as we all know, diversity is key in music.

As I've hinted at before, the Amott brothers are at the top of their game here. They are at their most brutal, melodic and progressive. Wildoer compliments the band just fine, but he's personally not my favorite member of this band because his sound is not as distinctive as all of the other members. If you love melodic death metal and you're a drummer, I suggest you listen to Arsis or something, not Arch Enemy.

All In all, while I fucking love Black Earth and Burning Bridges, Stigmata beats them both out. The gritty production of Stigmata gives it more feel than Burning Bridges and it is much more consistent than Black Earth. Since I don't enjoy any Arch Enemy after Burning Bridges, this obviously means that Stigmata is in my opinion Arch Enemy's greatest accomplishment. Once again, this is a very acquired taste, so I'd suggest giving this a listen straight through three times before coming to a final conclusion on how to feel about Stigmata. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot.