[Metal/Melodic Death] Arch Enemy – Rise of the Tyrant (10th Anniversary Review)

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Arch Enemy “Rise of The Tyrant”, the seventh album of the band. It is a 49 minutes, 11 tracks packed with fury and rage, in my opinion one of the best AE album from Angela Gossow-era.
We start with the ballistic “Blood On Your Hands” setting the tone: brutal and full of rage, one of my favorite tracks of the album by its fast-paced drums and guitars, Angie roars and Michael’s melodic riffs. We do not have any second of rest as we move with “The Last Enemy”, keeping on the insane speed of “Blood On Your Hands”. We are not yet done with the 10-minutes mark that we have this huge burst of adrenaline, priming you to enter the mosh pit. “I Will Live Again” slows down the pace into a more classical AE, allowing us to better savor on Michael’s melodic riffs and focus on Angie’s lyrics. This classical interlude is only transient as we move to the fourth track “In This Shallow Grave”. Combining fast and slow tempos, with Michael neighing his guitar like a horseman of the Apocalypse, Angie dark lyrics are really hitting deep inside, as some quotes from the lyrics “I have no soul, I have no blood. Genocide! Who is your master in this shallow grave? Alone, in this shallow grave….”. “Revolution Begins” appears in my opinion something you would have heard from “Anthems of Rebellion”, setting aside the brutal riffs and drums of the first tracks to allow the exposure of the lyrics. “Rise of The Tyrant”, the leading track of the album starts with an excerpt of the movie “Caligula” in which Caligula declare himself as a God, following by the brutal riffs and Angie growls. We are at 30 minutes and man this album is damn great in keeping us engaged and beefed up. “The Day You Died” keeps on the classical AE, so we are in good old melodic death metal. “Intermezzo Liberte” is this kind of interlude I love with AE, allowing us to enjoy Michael Amott’s remarkable guitar play. “Night Fall Fast” keep on the straight A line. “The Great Darkness” is maybe the weakest in my opinion but still pretty decent. “Vultures”, the last track of the album, perfectly an almost flawless album. Ten years later, “Rise of The Tyrant” hold up very well in my AE discography alongside with “Doomsday Machine” (my two favorites of AE Angela Gossow-era). If you have been entering Arch Enemy and have to pick an album with Angie fronting the band, pick this one.


[Metal/Melodic Death] Arch Enemy – Will to Power (90%)

Finally, after a week in waiting….got my Arch Enemy pre-order by mail including a tee and a digital version of the album (including a poster and three stickers, yikes!).
So how does Arch Enemy’s latest album hold? How does Jeff Loomis brings in the band? Interesting to do this review a week ahead on the 10th anniversary of their album “Rise of The Tyrant”.
Well you have the choice: the short or the long comment. The short one? A damn good AE album! The long one? Gonna have to read it through. This is an album made of 13 tracks totaling 54 minutes.
We got introduced by “Set Flame To The Night”, an instrumental opener that for AE fans reminds us the intro of “Khaos Legion” album. “The Race” brings on the big guns and set the tone of the album: its gonna loud, fast and furious. You know something from the good old times when Angie was fronting, that stuff that raises your adrenaline serum levels and gives you to jump into a mosh.
“Blood In The Water” slows down a bit, bringing the classical Michael Amott melodics riffs backed by Jeff Loomis, some classic AE style as I love it :). The “World Is Yours” marks this blend of the old and the new (brought with “War Eternal”). The tunes are catchy, certainly a great one as flagship song for promotion but I am not much impressed. That can be a great primer to the band if you have not listened to the band before. Listen by yourself and judge:

The fifth track, “The Eagle Flies Alone” is slower in pace but it is like the melodic power ballad with Michael and Jeff bringing on the riffs. Thats what I like about AE, powerful melodic riffs with fast-paced brutality. AFE!

“Reason To Believe” is the one posing as a power ballad, imagine stretching the Michael’s interlude into half a song with Alissa bringing on her experience on clean voices from the Agonist on that one, distilled inside this song. Turn on your lighters on that one. Oh yeah!
The seventh track “Murder Scene” brings back the brutal AE, good stuff but not too impressive. That compared to the eight track, “First Day In Hell”, starting like “We Are A Goodless Entity” only to bring it the heavy, hammering tough lyrics.
“Saturnine”, the the 9th track is this very nice instrumental interlude that Michael used to serve to each album. Short but sweet gothic one. “Dreams of Retribution” starts with Michael melodics a la Yngwie Malmsteen only to bring us the power melodic riffs surfing on some tunes we grew accustomed in “War Eternal”. Damn good track! “My Shadow And I” is nice but yeah not really talking to me much. “A Fight I Must Win” is a nice one to listen, straight outta AE playbook. The last song is “City Baby Attacked By Rats” is a very nice cover of the original punk song from GBH. I am not into punk music, but the cover is pretty rad. The original below.

So here we are at the end of the album. What can I say? I got introduced to AE via “War Eternal” and went into their discography retrospectively. Paradoxically, listening to “War Eternal” sounded one of the weakest link of their album. But, there is a big but here. I consider “War Eternal” as a transition and may explain this weakness. “Will To Power” brings the good old AE, Alissa settled into the continuation of Angie but in the same type pushing the band to foray into new avenues like “Reason to Believe”, there is also this idea of reaching out by Michael, maybe as his experience in pushing his Spiritual Beggars project, with the cover of “City Baby…”.
Arch Enemy brings on the big guns, followed by the engaging melodic riffs, bringing you in this state of frenzy prime for some memorable moments in the mosh! Thats some AFE album you handle here!

[Metal/Arch Enemy] Leader (of the f***ing a**holes) sneak peek

Arch Enemy is teasing us today with a cover of The Shitlickers (a Swedish hardcore punk) “The Leader (Of the f***ing a**holes)” through the hands of Michael Amott and the growls of the Alissa White-Gluz. Michael already show us his broad range by playing melodic death with Carcass and with Arch Enemy and by playing some psychedelic rock/stoner with his side project The Spiritual Beggars. Now we can add into the list some hardcore punk. I personally found the cover version much more elaborated, cleaner and more aggressive than the original. Just judge by yourself. The rage and the fury!

The cover:

The original:

[Metal/Melodic Death] Arch Enemy – Black Earth 20th anniversary

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Arch Enemy “Black Earth”, seeding what I consider of one of the most favorite melodic death metal, in particular by the powerful melodic riffs of Michael Amott. His talented skills on melodic riffs are in my opinion awesome and makes Arch Enemy different from the mainstream death metal bands.
As a freshman album, you always this feeling of the drafty and finding out his niche if you compare side-by-side the Arch Enemy style of 1997 and Arch Enemy of 2016. Retrospectively, you will need to wait until their third album “Anthems of Rebellion” and the position of Angela Gussow to obtain the trademark of Arch Enemy. Yet, this album is already rich with Michael melodic riffs that contrast with the heavy and brutal of the death metal. The album is made of 12 songs and it is some very good death metal tunes and stand as a 20 year album head high to many modern production. The vocals of Johan Liiva (ex-Carnage, in which he and Michael came from) are great and clearly understandable, a staple in our days in which many death metal bands front singers are all sounding the same.
More recently, Michael has mounted several pet projects including the progressive rock “Spiritual Beggars” and even reformed the original lineup that formed this album and named it simply “Black Earth”.
If you like powerful melodic guitar riffs and the hard banging of death metal, you should give a try to their first album, a milestone in Arch Enemy album.

[Metal] My top 2014 Symphonic (Death) Metal albums

2014 is taking its last breath and as usual it is time when folks bring their compilations and ranking of best cultural experiences of this year. I can tell that this year was very prolific, thanks to iTunes Radio that introduced to a lots of different metal bands and sub-genre. I thought to share some of the albums that marked my mind this year. All of them were published this year and evolve around metal/symphonic metal/death metal. There is no particular order and I listed them as alphabetical order. I also give my rating of the album “a la Metal-Archives”. Here we go….

(NOTE: I will progressively update the page, consider it as a 12 days of Christmas and come check it out on regular basis)

Arch Enemy – War Eternal (80%)

This is my introductory album to the group so I am maybe immune to the fight between Alissa White-Gluz and Angela Gossow. What I like about this band is  the presence of harmonics in their style, that strikes from other death metal band that are more frugal. The other surprise I had was to get introduced to female growls, especially when you have been raised in soprano voices of Tarja, Sharon or Simone. Thats was a bit of a shocker at the beginning but I quickly adapted to Alissa vocals. Overall, I liked it, even if it got some bad reps in Metal-Archives. It was a good experience and the band has a very good musical outcome. Two tracks brought my attention” “War Eternal” that is very dynamic and heavy, a great way to start a day and “Avalanche” that has very good melodic components. If you want to get introduced to death metal and wonders how a girl would growl, well this is a great introductory way to get into it.

Deathtiny – In Creep Clothing (80%)

Deathtiny……a band that appeared in my Facebook feed. And a good surprise. It is a very small symphonic gothic metal band from Germany, from the Black Forest area (Karlsruhe, Baden-Wurttenberg) so I consider them as neighbors in terms of my hometown. I consider them as the micro-brewers of metal. A small band, that is touring in the local scene and try to get a reputation. “In Creeps Clothing” is their second album, that can be purchased from iTunes (great if you are oversea but if you are in Europe you can directly buy their album from their Facebook page).

Delain – The Human Contradiction (85%)

Some followers asked about my thoughts on Delain for a couple of times and I thought this can be a quick take before I write a dedicated blog on the band (waiting for the 10th anniversary of their first album “Lucidity”.  Delain is one of this young generation band rising and after exploring their own style got what I think in this one their best shot and maybe are holding the magic formula. Its loud, its heavy (much heavier than their previous album) and an enjoying experience. Charlotte Wessels give this nice “candy” taste to the band style that is not bad. I really liked their first albums “Lucidity” and “April Rain” but got lost with the album “We Are The Others” (altought some of their songs had this 80’s new-wave flavor that was not bad at all). In her songs, Charlotte talks about deluded love, heartbreaks and how it hurts badly. Even any tough headbanger remains a child at heart and you really feel miserable when you set back on your feet after a too-long crush. I consider this album as the natural evolution of “April Rain” with a much more darker and engaged content. Just listen to “Your Body is A Battleground”, “My Masquerade” or “The Tragedy of The Commons”. It is also noteworthy to note the featuring artists in this album just as Marco from Nightwish or Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy. And what is make it a great album. The good news is Delain is coming to North America next year with Nightwish (with Floor as front singer!) and Sabaton. All three in the same concert venue? Thats a deal breaker.

Eluveitie – Origins (80%)

Ever heard about Celtic Metal? Never heard about….until I got my hands on Eluveitie “Origins”. That was a nice moment to listen, as the mix of celtic instruments with guitar riffs and growls as fusing so well. As a French, the closest region that comes to Celtic heritage is certainly Britain or “Breizh”. At the antipode of my hometown (I am from Elsass, at the eastern tip of France), “Breizh” has two meanings for me: my first love (I was a 4th grader, she was from Britain) and Cedric Labrousse, one of the best talented freelance chronicler on the Syrian conflict. The most surprising part was to learn that Eluveitie is far from being Celtic at its root. They are from Winterthur, Switzerland, the second most populous town in Zurich canton, just after Zurich-town. Nevertheless they are fairly amazing. I have not yet compared their latest album to the previous work but I really like this album with the exception of a couple of tracks that I would consider more aimed as “FM radio hooks”. If you are fond of folk-metal and are deep into the Celtic culture, I strongly recommend to discover this group.

Enemy of Reality – Rejected Gods (80%)

Another discovery of this year. Enemy of Reality is a Greek band, joining Elysion and Septicflesh in the few Greek metal bands I can cite. Their most recent album “Rejected Gods” is fairly unique as a symphonic metal as several of its tracks sounds like classical with a touch of metal, rather than having the classic metal riffs and drumbeats with a touch of classical. Iliana has a very powerful voice and deserve to gain some more public attention. I would give this band a software metal tone, almost a gothic aspect. If you need louder and faster pace albums, you may try to reach “Arch Enemy” or “The White Empress”. But if you are like nostalgic of the Nightwish “Oceanborn” era, then it can be a good tryout for this holidays. Favorite track: “Needle Bites” note the feature of Aylin from Sirenia in this track. “Sirenia” Veland and Aylin, looking for your next album!

Epica  – The Quantum Enigma (90%)

If there is a symphonic metal to be considered as a flagship one of the genre, it is certainly Epica. Simone Simons and Mark Jansen can be resumed into one sentence: a constant and great track record. 10 years, 5 albums, but always a consistent delivery of good albums (although the Requiem for Indifferent is the weakest link in my own opinion). Simone and Mark just keep refining their trademark and just ages as wine: just get better as it gets old. It is loud, powerful, the chorals are not too much abused and the symphonic arrangement is great. It certainly faster than their last album and maybe comparable to “Design Your Universe” in a faster pace. If you are looking for something stronger than Evanescence or Within Temptation, but not nihilist as death metal (because you appreciate classical music), this is the one. And if you like it, I strongly recommend to explore their discography.
I wanted to attend their concert in Dallas last fall, however a last minute cancellation from Children of Bodom vanished their USA tour. In the same time, it was heartbreaking that they came to my hometown (Strasbourg) last November with Dragonforce. So close….Really looking for their coming here in the Lone Star State.

Leaves Eyes – Symphony of The Night (85%)

 Leaves Eyes….A band that gives me some troubles because I find their music quality inconsistent to my ears or fails to make the chemistry. Its not because of Liv Kristin, she has a beautiful voice, its maybe the style that some qualify as “folk metal” or I would call it “Scandinavian metal” because it touches a lot of the Nordic mythology. The problem that I have with Leaves Eyes is that for most of their albums I would like a couple of their songs but despise the rest. For instance, “Njord” has a couple of songs that really trip me up like “Ragnarok”, “Northbound”, “The Holy Bond” or “Emerald Band” that have this magic in my brain. Maybe is their lack of heaviness int their sound that was missing. Their latest album seems to have solved that. It starts very loud with “Hell to The Heavens” with the pristine voice of Liv followed by heavy bass guitars and very aggressive growls. Its like Leaves Eyes went on steroids and thats good enough for me.

The only problem I have with this album is its cover. And the graphic designer in general. It seems that someone there has some “photoboobs” issues. I have nothing against generous breasts, i like big beautiful women indeed. Liv has surely a great set of vocal chords, but not a big pairs of boobs, even with a corset. And it seems such “boob job” just keep getting bigger with which new album. Want a proof look at “Njord” and “Symphonies of the Nights” cover albums. Guys, please stop that, it just getting ridiculous and not giving justice to Liv talent: her voice.

White Empress – Rise of The Empress (90%)

The White Empress is a brand new band, formed by ex-Cradle of Filth Paul Allender and ex-Ottoman Empire Mary Zimmer. It also has a special place in my heart as a good chance of the group is coming from the Twin Cities (Minnesota) and Madcity (Madison, Wisconsin). The style of the band is symphonic death metal, with Mary as the lead female growls. Their first album is very energetic, very aggressive and very cathartic for me when I have a bad day or when a band I liked just went “Gaga” with their latest release (Maria, do you hear me?). It has some rage that can be found in old punk bands and thats not bad. Just got infuriated the band played in Madison last Halloween, just wished they performed six months earlier when I was still there.

Whitin Temptation – Hydra (80%)

Within Temptation is the prototypical love-hate relationship you can have. Someone you liked for a long time and just decided to cut bonds for some artistic divergence. You have to know the discography of the band to feel the pain. I highly appreciate the “Heart of Everything” as their best album and of course “Black Symphony” that is the live version of it with a whole philarmonic orchestra. “Hydra” their latest album was for me feeling fighting a hydra. I severed my ties to the band a long time ago but seems one grew back enough to attract my attention. And in my personal, it is not bad, if you cut some non-sense duets. But it was a pleasure to hear a heavy sound, the energy of Sharon in several of their songs. There are songs with features such “Paradise” with Tarja, “Dangerous”, “Let it Burn”. They even were capable to make Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” that was some FM quality into something heavy and well designed.

My expectations for 2015?

A lot of expectations. Floor just joined Nightwish and I am seeing her as “the last hope” to bond again with the band. Annette Olzon is maybe a good singer but her vocals cannot sustain the soprano voice of Tarja. And Floor has the vocal range similar to Tarja that can really be a deal breaker. Floor reached artistic hell and came back, stronger than ever. Really looking for their concert in Dallas next May with Sabaton and Delain (one of the best lineup in one concert). The second is the new album from Sirenia. Aylin and Veland are on their way to finish their latest album and I hope they are leaving the abysmal depths of the Northern Sea. Up until today, “The Enigma of Life” still remains an enigmatic bust. For those who discovered Xandria with Manuella Kraller as front singer, I really wish her good luck in 2015 as a year for her to join a band. Manuella is extremely talented (at first I thought Tarja was singing, to give you an idea of her talent) and really she deserve to join a Symphonic Metal band and have her place among Simone, Sharon, Tarja, Liv and other metal divas. Viel Glueck Manuella! Finally it seems the French Symphonic metal band “Whyzdom” is on the way to release a new album in early 2015. Bonne chance les amis!

The other event I am looking for is seeing Serj getting back with SOAD for commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and thats for me some tragic events of my genome coming back to haunt.

And you? What was your discoveries and top albums? Feel free to leave your feedback.