Doomsday Machine (Century Media)
by Eric Chon
There are those who claim that Arch Enemy has been in a downward spiral since 2001’s Wages of Sin. They claim that Angela Gossow is an inferior vocalist to Johan Liiva, and that they’ve commercialized their sound to sell out. Those people are dead wrong. These kinds often complain about a band changing their sound and maturing, claiming every little difference a step toward Hot Topic mall-metal. And while Arch Enemy are becoming more popular than ever, you won’t hear anything off of Doomsday Machine on the radio any time soon.
It’s true that 2003’s Anthems of Rebellion was less than stellar. It was an excellent album, but not quite up to the standard that I hold Mike Amott and company to. Perhaps it’s a bit unfair, seeing as Carcass is my favorite death metal band, and that’s hard to live up to. While I enjoyed listening to it, AoR quickly left my heavy rotation after only a few weeks. Compared to classics like Wages and Burning Bridges, the more simplified, anthemic songs didn’t quite gel.
Doomsday Machine sees the Amott brothers returning to form as riffs and solos fill each song to the brim with dueling guitars and intricate patterns. Their first single, “Nemesis,” really captures the momentum of the album as Mike and Chris blaze away, fingers on fire! Equally refreshing is the sense of renewed vigor in Daniel Erlandsson’s drumming and Sharlee D’Angelo’s bass. They’ve upped the speed and force behind the album to near frothing levels. “Machtkampf” is especially brutal, with an opening salvo of syncopated drums guaranteed to knock you on your ass.
But it’s Angela who steals the show. Her somewhat muted and processed vocals on AoR are replaced with a ravenous, starving beast raping the microphone for all its worth. There’s a level of intensity and sheer evilness here that even the corpse-paint crowd will stagger from. Her voice rakes flesh off bone with its power and ferocity. This is what I’ve always wanted to hear in death metal.
Interestingly enough, despite the album’s general savagery, there are moments of sheer rock-influenced harmony. Most notable on the instrumental, “Hybrids of Steel,” which provides a refreshing break to Doomsday‘s intensity. In fact, many of the songs have moments akin to the eye of a hurricane: A moment where the whirlwind music gives you a chance to catch your breath before the pounding begins anew.
Doomsday Machine is a welcome return. It shows us that despite their success, they’re not resting on their laurels and churning out the same shit. They’re growing and evolving as an unstoppable force in metal. Who knows how they’ll attack our senses next? I, for one, look forward to it!