Arch Enemy - _Anthems of Rebellion_
(Century Media, 2003)
by: Jackie Smit (
Not to sound mean-spirited, but up to and including 2002's massively acclaimed _Wages of Sin_ effort, Arch Enemy's take on melodic Swedish death metal was one which held very little interest for me. Like many of their contemporaries, I found their style tired and overdone to the point of being redundant; and to be honest, the release of _Anthems of Rebellion_ might well have passed me by had it not been for a surprise package in my mailbox one fateful Tuesday afternoon. Thank goodness for that then, because unlike the stale In Flames-derived licks of yore, this seemingly hastily released record showcases a far more aggressive, vitriolic side to the band from the off. As opening behemoth "Silent Wars" so clearly demonstrates, Arch Enemy have chosen this time round to steer clear of the tired trappings of the past and instead have adopted an approach more deeply rooted in the old-school traditions of Carcass and others of their early nineties ilk. And, with the help of a tremendous instrumental effort and the greatly improved vocals of one Angela Gossow, they manage to pull it off beautifully. Indeed, Angela's rasping snarl sounds more menacing than ever before and, with her now clearly being more confident in her central role in the band, her talent has literarily rocketed from adequate to hugely impressive. Similarly, _Anthems of Rebellion_ also sees Arch Enemy successfully experimenting more than ever with clean vocals and well-implemented, sparse keyboard lines, which add a welcome dash of variety to the proceedings. Unfortunately not all is perfect, and no doubt in an attempt to appeal to younger fans, the lyrics on _Anthems of Rebellion_ seem dumbed down to almost pre-pubescent levels -- witness the ultra-cheese of "Instinct" as a sterling example. This aside though, Arch Enemy have produced perhaps their best record to date, which if anything is sure to proselytise a fair amount of their detractors, while keeping older fans clammering for more.
(article published 8/22/2003)
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