Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

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

Privacy Policy

Reaffirming past orthodoxy with a different voice. - 82%

hells_unicorn, December 18th, 2011

There are some bands that have stuck fairly close to the original death metal template, to the point that they are frequently accused of releasing virtually the same album over and over (some have levied this charge at Cannibal Corpse), but what is that original template anyway? Is it the just shy of thrash metal, all fast all the time character of the early Death albums spearheaded by a toneless grunt in Chuck Schuldiner rather than a tonal yet often limited shouter? Or is it the albums of the early 90s where things were slightly progressive in character, of which Death is also a major player? Which ever case may be, the advent of the Gothenburg melodeath trifecta and its affiliates brought in a somewhat different answer, so much so that some dismiss the style as being something other than death metal.

Arch Enemy, a project that rose out of the demise of Carcass, conformed fairly closely to the mid 90s Gothenburg paradigm. It took on an almost power metal character meshed with an archaic nod to the formulaic, fast and heavily Slayer infused early Death albums in "Scream Bloody Gore" and "Leprosy", while also bringing in an equally fierce lead guitar barrage via the Amott brothers, who are equal, if not somewhat superior in their ability to cut heads to Schuldiner and his various co-axe wielders. In fact, the principle thing that excluded this band from being a full out Gothenburg cliche was the less sepulchral, more hardcore oriented shouts of Johan Liiva, a vocal character bearing more similarity to early Possessed or Kreator than any of the seminal Florida or Swedish death metal vocalists of note. With his exodus and the entry of the auspicious person of Angela Gossow came something closer to the nasty, quasi-blackened character embodied in Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates.

"Wages Of Sin" could be likened to better version of the last couple of In Flames albums before their stylistic departure a year after this came out, and with a more competent screamer. Yet at the same time, it's a bit faster and closer to the thrashing character of more aggressive acts that still manage to be melodic. It's nestled somewhere between the chaotic rage of "Deathrace King" and the somber agony of "Clayman", all the while outclassing both in the guitar shredding department to the point of rivaling Dream Theater. A few listens to "Enemy Within", "Ravenous" and "The First Deadly Sin" showcases a brilliant merging of darkness, melodic contour, and aggression that is worthy of any extreme metal's attention, yet also not wholly beyond the realm of someone who doesn't normally venture beyond the level of extremity put forth on a standard Amon Amarth album. There also seems to be a slight nod to Iced Earth nestled at the beginning of the album (which sounds fairly similar to the intro of "Burnt Offerings") and the brief melodic serenade "Snow Bound" which conjures up images of a slightly less agitated Malmsteen ballad/instrumental.

The superiority of this album to subsequent works with Angela Gossow at the helm is mostly a result of this still having one foot firmly placed in the older side of the Gothenburg equation where the modern rock presence was minimal and the aesthetic was a bit colder and otherworldly. The production is a bit choppy, in part due to the clicking bass drum clashing somewhat with the heavier, bass heavy guitar tone. It's almost to the point that despite Gossow's presence, this album is more in the realm of the 3 with Liiva at the helm. Anyone with a taste for the 90s Gothenburg scene should like this, though it does have a bit of crossover appeal to harder edged listeners who want a harder stomp and less pomp.