|Review: Arch Enemy - Black Earth|
Label: Regain Records
Year released: 2002
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Review online: January 22, 2003
Reviewed by: Scott Murray
Conveniently, the reissuing (finally) of Arch Enemy’s classic debut Black Earth gripped firmly onto coat tales of the highly successful Wages of Sin.
This one may have gone unnoticed, being slipped underneath the hype and all, but I assure you that if you thought Wages of Sin was the be all to end all heaviest and best Arch Enemy album period, then Black Earth will have you begging for mercy.
This reissued version contains nine songs that exhibit Arch Enemy’s trademark dual-edged audile assault of crushing riffs pierced by beautiful melodic guitar soloing. The combined effort of the Amott brothers trading off medleys has been the heart and soul of this band from the beginning. Chris and Michael’s superb playing ability make King and Hanneman look like the jokers from Korn.
Also included on this album are three bonus tracks: Losing Faith, The Ides of March and Aces High. Yes, you read that right. Not one, but TWO Maiden covers. Everyone loves them, so why not include two? Arch Enemy plays these classics to a tee on all musical fronts. But as we all know Johan Liiva is no Bruce Dickinson; heck, he’s not even a Blaze (at least in my mind). I’m not saying this to slag the guy though. I just don’t think his vocal styling is suited to these kinds of songs. His distant growling and screeches just seem to bounce right off of Arch Enemy’s increasing influx of melody within their later works before he was ousted from the group.
Liiva is much better suited to the gritty and dark feel of an album like Black Earth. It is harsh enough to complement his abilities, leaving awkward vocal moments to a minimum. Actually, he pulls of a couple of really nice momentum building growls at the slow points of certain songs. He certainly beats Angela in the originality department, that’s for sure.
It’s hard to pick favourites from such a powerful collection of songs. The menacing build-up of Dark Insanity, the sinister grooves and structured complexity of Cosmic Retribution and the methodical wailing that Fields of Desolation administers are stand out moments of pure metal bliss.
In conclusion: BUY THIS ALBUM.
- Originally released in 1996
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