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Arch Enemy: Doomsday Machine

It must be tough for a band like Arch Enemy. This Swedish melodic death/thrash metal band has steadily been gaining fans and popularity over the last few years, much to the delight of all the new listeners who have joined their legions with the release of albums like Wages of Sins and Anthems of Rebellion. However, you can never truly make the older fans happy without the dreaded shouts of "you sold out" rearing their ugly heads. On Doomsday Machine the Arch Enemy cannon is stronger than ever, firing on all cylinders, for perhaps the bands most potent and polished effort yet, debuting at # 87 on the US Billboard charts the week of its release, while the band is touring the nation as a member of the 2005 Ozzfest roster. That's pretty damn good for a Swedish band that is about as far removed from what is called popular music these days. Well I can tell you that there is no "selling out" on this record-this band is where they are because of pure talent. While Doomsday Machine is still damn melodic like all of their output, make no mistake about is, this is one heavy and brutal album. Let's get into it...

Kicking off with the wonderful and majestic instrumental "Enter the Machine", the Amott brothers Michael and Christopher come across like a magical meeting between Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, combining flash with melody perfectly, before the band rips into the raging thrash of "Taking Back My Soul". This track is pure metal mayhem, kicked off my Michael's quick and explosive lead guitar which segues in lead vocalist Angela Gossow's demonic screaming. What's great about Angela's vocals are that they have developed an emotional sense that she hasn't had previously, and you can clearly understand her garbled screams this time around, although they are no less lethal. She bellows the catchy chorus here "No More, it's over, I'm onto you, your evil game, the tables have turned, I'm taking back my soul" with venemous fury, yet it's quite catchy. Also check out the blazing guest guitar solo on this piece from Nightrage's Gus G. "Nemesis" follows, which is also the bands first video from the CD, and again this is a classic death metal thrasher but with a huge hook on the chorus, which seems to come out of nowhere amidst all the pummeling rhythms and lightning fire guitar solos. The drum work of Daniel Erlandsson is just brutal here, perfectly complementing the furious riffs and melodic leads of the Amott brothers. Just a truly breathtaking song all around, and a perfect example of why this band is clicking with so many fans these days.

A slower groove starts off "My Apocalypse" side-by-side with some double bass drums and deep growls from Gossow. This one is less about speed but more about the band locking into a chunky groove thanks to some churning riffs and the locked in rhythm of Erlandsson and bassist Sharlee D'Angelo. The middle section is great here, as the band slows down for an atmospheric interlude that sounds like something off of an early Michael Schenker Group album, letting Michael Amott lay down a gorgeous melodic lead before the band kicks back into high gear once again. "Carry the Cross" mixes industrial thrash and melodic death metal, and is filled with some interesting guitar textures. Gossow's vocals here are pure evil, sounding like they used some vocal effects, especially during the mellower sections of the song, which I don't think were all that necessary. The band delivers classy thrash on "I Am Legend/Out For Blood", complete with crisp guitar riffs that are perfect in execution, and of course some blazing leads from Michael and Christopher. Some truly ominous lyrics come encased in the lethal "Skeleton Dance", spewed out venemously by Gossow over the top of the thick wall of thrash guitars, and the band once again delivers a stunning instrumental on "Hybrids of Steel". These two guys can flat out play their asses off, but they never come across as showing off, as their leads are dripping with tone and the taste, perfectly fitting the song. Hints of Michael Schenker, Steve Vai, Vinny Moore, and Yngwie Malmsteen can be heard, but these two brothers create melodies like no other guitar duo is doing in metal these days.

Some doom metal can be heard on the brutally heavy "Mechanic God Creation", a song that works on all levels and sports another effective vocal performance from Gossow, who manages to somehow sound like the evil incarnate herself yet be catchy at the same time. The use of some Middle Eastern guitar harmonies on this piece also brought to mind the killer death metal band Nile. Complex riffery and pounding drums provide the foundation for Angela's brutal screams on "Machtkampf", a raging thrasher that also has some ripping guitar solos, and the closing headbanger "Slaves of Yesterday" ends the CD on a high note, less about speed, and more about finding a heavy groove and pounding the shit out of it. Christopher Amott takes most of the leads on this one and he really shines amidst the plowing tiffs and atmospheric keyboards.

There you have it, eleven songs, nothing commercial about them, but so classy and perfectly executed that it's no surprise the buzz that Doomsday Machine is creating. This is the most brutal band you will see on the Billboard Top 100, and one of the best metal releases of 2005. Highly recommended!

Track Listing
1. Enter The Machine
2. Taking Back My Soul
3. Nemesis
4. My Apocalypse
5. Carry The Cross
6. I Am Legend/Out For Blood
7. Skeleton Dance
8. Hybrids Of Steel
9. Mechanic God Creation
10. Machtkampf
11. Slaves Of Yesterday

Added: August 29th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Arch Enemy Website
Hits: 4331
Language: english

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Arch Enemy: Doomsday Machine
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-08-29 06:28:28
My Score:

The highly anticipated album by Sweden's Arch Enemy has arrived and Doomsday Machine will roll over you like a freight train if you are not careful. The band has become one of the more interesting providers of the form, with a very musical and technical level of Death Metal meets Thrash, along with the growling demon vocals. Led by the twin-guitar wizardry of the Amott Brothers (Christopher and Michael), the band demonstrates that you can be brutally heavy and fast, but still rip up the guitar strings like the most progressive of players. It is this Maiden meets Priest kind of ability on top of the brutality that I think separates Arch Enemy from other bands in the Metal genre. With Doomsday Machine, there are many peaks and valleys as you are often brought to the top of the mountain only to be thrown over the edge by their intensity. The release might come across to some as too accessible and not as destructive as Anthems Of Rebellion or Wages Of Sin, but there is nothing on the recording that shows the band following a commercial edge in my opinion. The band needs no such tricks to guarantee their success and have proven a growth in their popularity here in the States by being selected to be part of Ozzfest as well as sold-out headlining shows at many popular venues along the way. The album begins with a mood setting "enter The Machine", which is an instrumental and serves as the perfect opener for "Taking Back My Soul". This track itself displays many of the skills you will enjoy from the players around the whole record. "Nemesis" is the song that gained most of the attention on the album and rightfully so since we find Angela Gossow delivering the goods like never before. She is clearly not your typical female front person and shows that not all female leads need to be demure and soft. Angela seems to be the type to kill beers with and who you want on your side when the going gets tough a true beauty, but also a wild woman on the stage and recording. Those who have ever caught the band live already know how imposing she is as a performer. Her presence in a band like this also gives inspiration to other female singers who are less like Tarja (Nightwish) and instead hold a darker level of vocal talent. It's a welcome change to a role that risked becoming stagnant otherwise.

Rounded out by Daniel Erlandsson and Sharlee D'Angelo (drums and bass), the band brings a very intense musical experience to the listener. Numbers like "My Apocalypse" and "Mechanic God Creation", show the different skills and time signature changeups that make Arch Enemy music much better than the bands that opt for one format and sound for an entire record. Erlandsson is a great drummer and provides a lot of tasty fills and patterns along with a thunderous double-bass technique and he gets to show off a little in "Machkampf". Above it all, the main appeal is in the guitar work and the vocals since it is such a standout effort. Sadly, Christopher Amott would remove himself from the lineup to pursue personal interests. While he will be missed from the band, I am certain that a suitable replacement will come in to the bands ranks. The CD is enhanced, so if you place it in your computer there are several photos, wallpapers and buddy icons to see as well as tour dates. It would have been nice to see a couple of videos, but there is a DVD coming and people will be able to get the full visual effect of the band from this. Check this out, and then look into some of the back catalog.

Arch Enemy: Doomsday Machine
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-09-04 15:23:04
My Score:

Swedish death metallers Arch Enemy return with Doomsday Machine, a much welcome new album after their previous disc Anthems of Rebellion. Although it was their breakthrough record earning Arch Enemy massive critical acclaim and lots of new fans, at the same time it was easily their most streamlined offering to date.

With their new album, the band goes back to the heaviness and complexity of Wages of Sin, their first disc with current female growler Angela Gossow. Guitarists Mike Amott and Chris Amott supply blistering lead solos that merge melody and aggression, whilst Sharlee D'Angelo on bass and Daniel Erlandsson on drums form the solid rhythm section. Though good, I feel Sharlee D'Angelo provided a more pronounced and violent performance on the last Spiritual Beggars album (also recommended to all Arch Enemy fans) released recently. Daniel Erlandsson, however, absolutely shines on this disc. His tone, his timing and his understanding of rhythm are perfectly exemplified on all the songs. They range from fierce blast beats to odd metered polyrhythms and plain out drum solos. Angela Gossow's vocals are slighlty toned down; she doesn't sing very low as she did on the previous two discs, but therefore her vocals are easier to follow and let the lyrics come out better. Speaking of which, the lyrical content seems to be a more detailed study of the ones on Anthems of Rebellion, addressing social decay and rebellion of the individual.

Needless to say, as on any other Arch Enemy disc, the meat of the music on Doomsday Machine is the Amott brothers. They once again prove to be an indistructible duo, laying down brutal, dark and imaginative guitar leads executed flawlessly. Though hardly the heaviest Arch Enemy album as many people including some of the band members themselves claim, Doomsday Machine must be their most versatile and certainly most experimental effort. The songwriting mainly projects a combination of classic Swedish melodicism with old school death metal. "Taking Back My Soul", perhaps also the heaviest and meanest cut on this disc, starts out so heavily and relentlessly that it is almost impossible to identify it's actually the Arch Enemy guys playing those killer guitar riffs. As a matter of fact, the classic death metal riffage is akin to Morbid Angel's golden period or any other American death metal band from the early 90's. It does lead into the trademark Arch Enemy sound after the first two minutes, however. A memorable guitar solo blends seamlessly with Gossow's brutal vocals and reaches its apex with the addition of Erlandsson's blistering drum work.

The following songs, besides still retaining their heavy stance, also see the band experimenting with more atmospheric elements. Take the ending of "Nemesis" as an example; the aggressive thrashy tune first delves into a mild acoustic break before picking up only to give way to a wave of dissonant sound that messes with the head. "Carry the Cross" displays a tortured and agonizing vocal performance from Gossow and is probably the doomiest track they have ever penned, save for the traditional metal solo at the end. To further enhance the album's experimental side, the band uses some weird tribal/ethnic drum work on the technically impossible "I Am Legend/Out for Blood", which is otherwise one of the most aggressive songs on the album. Whispered vocals meet sick laughters in the intro of "Skeleton Dance" but are quickly gone as the song spirals into a full-on metal number.

"Hybrids of Steel" is the instrumental song on the album. Interestingly it is totally devoid of death metal riffing and wouldn't seem out of place on any melodic metal album. Once again Erlandsson's drumming is the highlight here. I am so amazed by his playing, which also must be due to the great mix rendered by notable producer Andy Sneap. You can hear great tapping style melodies on the first track as well as on "Mechanic God Creation" which evokes themes of Middle Eastern elements in a subtle way. "Machtkampf" features way too many vocal effects on Gossow's overly reverbed voice, which comes off a bit annoying. I believe most Arch Enemy fans could have done without it. To sum things up, Doomsday Machine is a step in the right direction and puts Arch Enemy back on track. Whether it's their best as they claim, however, is highly arguable. I for one still think Wages of Sin is their best with Angela, and the first two discs with Johan Liiva are still personal favourites for me.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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