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The Best Angela-Era Album - 82%

beardovdoom, November 24th, 2013

There's 2 periods to Arch Enemy: The Johan Liiva early days and the more modern Angela Gossow days. This is her first album with the band. I didn't buy the last album as i'd got bored of this band by then. However, this album is a near classic of melodic death metal. The early stuff is ok but i've never been a massive fan. The musicianship is excellent but Johan's voice is bland and the songwriting just wasn't as good. 'Wages of Sin' is the first album where the Amott brothers really stepped up to the top level.

Michael Amott has history with melodic death metal from his time with Carcass. Angela is a known fan of Carcass and does her best to sound like Jeff Walker. This has led to many unfair criticisms of Arch Enemy being a mere Carcass clone. Although the influence is there, i'd say AE are much more melodic and safe. I say safe because after this album AE pretty much copied this blueprint for 5 albums to varying degrees of success. This album not only benefits from being the first of the new era, but also from a solid but not overdone production. Crisp and punchy without being too shiny.

The album starts with a creepy piano intro leading into 'Enemy Within' and then the riff-fest begins. The Amotts wheel out riff after riff on this album and most of them are great. I especially like the monstrous, near-doom riff of 'Savage Messiah' and it adds a nice change of pace to the album. Solos are also exceptional as you'd come to expect from these lads. They can play so well they should've had their own Guitar Hero spin-off! Easily one of the best guitar partnerships in the history of metal.

Daniel Erlandsson capably handles the drums. He may not be the best drummer out there but his playing suits this style of music perfectly and he gets the job done. Same goes for Sharlee's bass playing, solid and dependable. he even gets a bass solo on 'Dead Bury Their Dead'! Angela's vocals can be a little monotonous after a while but they are certainly venomous and deliver these lyrics with real force.

The album goes a little flat after track 6 but only down to a level of decent as opposed to rubbish. Then we get a short instrumental, 'Snow Bound' with a nice guitar lead and suddenly we're hit with the album highlight 'Shadows and Dust'. Michael Amott's guitar solo is one of my favourites of all time, just fantastic fretwork.

My version of this album has a bonus track which is nothing special, but also a disc of rarities from the Johan era. 3 cover versions and 4 rare tracks from Japanese releases. All are of a reasonable quality and you've probably never heard Judas Priest like this before!

i rate this album very highly, its appeal hasn't worn off despite the band no longer exciting me. A top quality Swedish melodeath album.

Recommended tracks: Enemy Within, Heart of Darkness, Savage Messiah, Dead Bury Their Dead, Shadows and Dust