Anthems of Rebellion (Century Media)
by Tim Den
In a completely unexpected turn of events, Arch Enemy have followed-up the brilliant Wages of Sin with arguably their weakest platter to date. No joke, Anthems of Rebellion reeks of amateur riffs, a suspicious stench of commerciality, and a child-like obsession with predictable E-minor progressions (low E chug chug chug, high E power chord, repeat) that makes you wonder if the band have traveled back in time and gotten their 15-year-old selves to write this thing. Hey hey hey, don’t kill the messenger, listen for yourself: The Rude Awakening-era Prong leftover “Leader of the Rats,” the atrocious ripoff of “Creeping Death” and Slayer’s “Spill the Blood” in “Exist to Exit,” the copying of classic Pestilence in “End of the Line,” not to mention the random “Fear Factory-style singing” in the latter (as well as in “Dehumanization”).
And that’s just the thing: It’s easy to pick apart Anthems of Rebellion piece by piece because the songs – not to mention the entire album and its uneven sequencing – are so awkwardly put together that one can’t help but wonder if the band constructed them at a death metal salad bar. “Okay, we start with the intro, then throw in a completely unrelated riff without transitioning, then add a third riff that has nothing to do with the first two, and call it done!” As I mentioned earlier, it’s as if teenagers came up with a bunch of riffs they didn’t know what to do with, and decided to just string ’em up one after another. Even “Dead Eyes See No Future,” one of the album’s only solid tracks, suffers from this syndrome terribly. Momentum is lost again and again as tempos and dynamics are forced together like a key squeezed into the wrong lock. And nowhere is this more apparent than on “Instinct,” where a power metal verse all of a sudden plunges into a nü metal chorus without warning. Totally uncalled for and devoid of grace.
The only redeeming values here are – as always – vocalist Angela Gossow’s jagged/clearly-enunciated attacks, and a monumental stomper called “We Will Rise.” Hiding phantasmic melodies within dense chords, flying the verses low and then catapulting the dynamics into the chorus, “We Will Rise” is the only track on Anthems of Rebellion that figures out how to naturally build and release with equal parts ferocity, beauty, and smarts.
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