By Arch Enemy
Arch Enemy have really raised their game on this release. Following some 4 years on from the release of 'Rise of the Tyrant', there was undoubtedly much pressure on the band to deliver the goods; it is, therefore, a huge relief to find out that Arch Enemy haven't toned down their approach, but instead have released an album which not only packs more punch than a heavyweight boxer, but retains the unmistakable sound that Arch Enemy have been perfecting for a decade and a half.
Arch Enemy waste no time in getting down to business; instrumental opener 'Khaos Overture' builds up a suitable level of tension before 'Yesterday Is Dead And Gone' rears its head, and in doing so threatens to tear your speakers apart, such is the sheer intensity of Angela Gossow's harsh screams and the Amott brothers' furious shredding. Despite setting the bar high for themselves early on, the band show no signs of stopping as they clear the mark time and time again; ' Through The Eyes Of A Raven', 'Thorns In My Flesh' and 'Vengeance Is Mine' are simply put some of the best metal anthems you will hear all year, and any fans who were worried that Arch Enemy may have mellowed in their time away from the fray can breathe a huge sigh of relief; this album doesn't skimp on the brutality, for which we should all be grateful.
However, for every couple of stompers on here there are also a handful of surprises. 'No Gods, No Masters' is a bizarre slab of groove-heavy rock, coupled with a vicious delivery to make it into 4 minutes and 15 seconds worth of slightly deranged brilliance. The aforementioned ' Through The Eyes Of A Raven' may hit hard, but it also features a sprawling guitar solo with a progressive edge; Arch Enemy simply refuse to be confined to a single genre here, and even the most ignorant of listeners would struggle to apply the tag 'Melodic Death Metal' to the band these days. Having been at the forefront of the metal pack for so long, Arch Enemy have left most of their fellow bands in the dust, and their next release could see them become pioneers rather than just leaders; if their career trajectory keeps up at this rate they'll be there in no time.
As the final notes of 'Secrets' fade out, any doubts a listener may have initially had about Arch Enemy should have been well and truly crushed under the weight of this album. Here is an album that is not afraid to show its true colours, whether they be through pure aggression or through the presence of a new edge to its songs, and in doing so puts itself firmly on the map in terms of metal releases this year. 'We went all over the place with this album. Take it or leave it,' is Gossow's blunt summary of the album, but you'd be a fool to choose the latter; do your record collection justice and grab yourself a copy of this, because simply put, this will be one of the standout metal performances of the year.