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A flawed modern classic - 79%

Andromeda_Unchained, December 5th, 2011

This one takes me back to being around sixteen. Wages of Sin tends to be the favorite where the majority are concerned with the Arch Enemy back catalogue. After Johan Liiva parting ways with the Amott's and co, the band hired femme fatale Angela Gossow, who sparked the whole "fucking hell, no way is that a lass singing" thing.

While I will always prefer Johan's stylings, Angela was hardly a bad choice and her vocals are a venomous, vitriolic growl, that without prior knowledge probably could fool anyone regarding gender. Fredrik Nordström's production gave the band a much bigger, clearer production and as a result Wages of Sin was Arch Enemy's most modern sounding release (at the time).

The album is packed with clicking double kick drums, and heavy yet glossed guitars. When compared with the bands previous opus, Wages of Sin sounds like a macho power metal album. "Enemy Within" kicks in with an open string lead guitar line, before exploding into low end thumping. Everything the would characterize the second half of Arch Enemy's career can be found here. "Burning Angel" is one of the bands finer numbers, and again has quite a bit in common with the power metal style, Michael Amott's wah pedal infested guitar leads are out in force here. Fan favorite "Ravenous" established the blazing double kicking Arch Enemy track, this set a formula that the band would utilize on just about every post Wages of Sin release. Furious speed for two verses, broken up with a Chris Amott trem abusing pyrotechnical break, melodic chorus, rinse repeat, intense guitar solo - you know the score.

The latter half of the album is a little heavier, introduced via the post thrash stylings of "Dead Bury their Dead". "The First Deadly Sin" and "Web of Lies" are two of the bands more furious odes, with the former having some great guitar work. Wages of Sin isn't without its share of duds though, the almost Nu-metal edge to "Behind the Smile" is an entirely skippable affair, and "Savage Messiah" stands as a poor mans version of the closing dirge of the previous albums title track.

Fortunately the band unleash maybe the albums finest track at the end, "Shadows and Dust" is Arch Enemy at their finest, with great yet simplistic riffs and some quality themes. All in all Wages of Sin is a quality yet somewhat uneven release. The killer here really does fucking kill, and the album houses some of Arch Enemy's finest tracks. However the filler blows, and as a result I rarely spin this album in its entirety. Wages of Sin is a noteworthy release in both Arch Enemy's career, and of course the whole Gothenburg scene. A flawed modern classic at best.