by Nikiforos Skoumas
Staff Writer –
Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy have returned with their ninth studio album Khaos Legions.
Over the past decade, fans and media have attached multiple labels to the outfit called Arch Enemy, most notably, ‘female fronted metal’, ‘melodic metal’ and ‘extreme metal.’ Obviously the first tag is literally true, having Angela Gossow at the helm, still nowhere near the popular subtle/operatic female fronted metal; Arch Enemy play guitar driven heavy metal with growly vocals (not as brutal as you would expect), thick rhythm section and minimal use of keyboards.
The second label ‘melodic metal’ is also a fair characterization of the approach of Arch Enemy, especially on account of Khaos Legions. Each and every song on the album features extensive melodic guitar lines, making direct reference to such contemporary melodic-power bands as Firewind and Primal Fear. Indeed, all credit due to mastermind guitarist Michael Amott and brother Christopher for ‘sqeezing’ as many guitar harmonies as possible on the new album. In all honesty it is the melodic element that grants the compositions depth and makes the end result memorable, not Angela’s vocal performance. It would be reasonable to say that the only way for one to enjoy a 15-track death metal album from start to finish is for that album to feature accessible melodies.
Finally the label ‘extreme metal’ is probably the least accurate of the three. The songs on Khaos Legions benefit from solid structures- thick opening riffs, followed by various guitar leads, well-defined verses and big choruses. Yes, there are of course the growls and a handful of down-tuned riffs but these aspects hardly make for an extreme metal album, also taking into account that the majority of the album is performed on standard tempo without any obscenely fast tracks.
There are a few instrumental songs on Khaos Legions namely “We are a Godless Entity” and “Turn to Dust” but fact remains that “Bloodstained Cross,” “Under Black Flags We March,” “No Gods, No Masters” and “Through the Eyes of a Raven” are straight to the point metal tunes that waste none of your time.
Having played the album a good number of times, one feels strongly that Khaos Legions should appeal to a wider metal audience beyond the stereotypical Death Metal fan. Through their new album Arch Enemy verify that it is in fact melody and songwriting that makes their style accessible and therefore successful, not the ‘female-fronted’ tag.
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Angela Gossow − vocals
Michael Amott − lead and rhythm guitar
Christopher Amott − lead and rhythm guitar
Sharlee D’Angelo − bass
Daniel Erlandsson − drums
Per Wiberg − keyboards (guest)
1. “Khaos Overture” (Instrumental) 1:31
2. “Yesterday Is Dead and Gone” 4:22
3. “Bloodstained Cross” 4:49
4. “Under Black Flags We March” 4:41
5. “No Gods, No Masters” 4:14
6. “City of the Dead” 4:31
7. “Through the Eyes of a Raven” 5:09
8. “Cruelty Without Beauty” 4:59
9. “We Are a Godless Entity” (Instrumental) 1:34
10. “Cult of Chaos” 5:11
11. “Thorns in My Flesh” 4:55
12. “Turn to Dust” (Instrumental) 0:39
13. “Vengeance Is Mine” 4:09
14. “Secrets” 4:05
Band Website: http://www.archenemy.net/
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10