Rise of the Tyrant (Century Media)
by Eric Chon
Another two years, another Arch Enemy album, eh? Like clockwork, the brothers Amott, Gossow, D’Angelo, and Erlandsson bring us another slab of melodic death metal. While this may be yawn-inducing news to the jaded, the big names of Swedish metal have been on-target for producing sharp, intense records as of late (see In Flames’ and Dark Tranquillity’s latest for a lesson on how it should be done), and Arch Enemy are no exception. Their last record, Doomsday Machine, was a welcome turn after 2003’s aggressive-but-simple Anthems of Rebellion, showcasing the incredible fretwork of Mike and Chris Amott, while showing a lot of growth in Angela Gossow’s vocal delivery and Daniel Erlandsson’s drumming (Sharlee has always done an admiral job on bass). If Rise of the Tyrant had been the logical next step, there wouldn’t be one disappointed fan out there. But it’s so much more than that.
With the first track “Blood on Your Hands,” Arch Enemy let it be known that they have dialed the knob well past eleven with a bone-searing guitar intro and a rattle-my-grave howl from Gossow. It’s not often than an album will have your head thrashing in the first few seconds after hitting play. As melodic as they are, Amott’s Carcass roots are definitely showing as Arch Enemy crank the heaviness into overdrive, showing everyone how its done. Erlandsson’s and D’Angelo’s frenzied rhythms are riot-inducing, while Gossow rakes your ears with an explosive delivery that hasn’t been matched since 2001’s Wages of Sin. Both Mike and Chris indulge their every guitar whim with whirling dual solos and intricate melodies. And that’s just the first song.
“The Last Enemy” follows with a blistering double kick-drum blast that’d feel at home for Suffocation. And somehow, they’re expertly able to combine this amazingly aggressive bottom-end sound with soaring guitar solos and haunting melodies, creating a sound completely in tune with their Swedish contemporaries, but still wholly their own. No small feat, even for musicians of this caliber. From the mid-tempo bone crushers like “Night Falls Fast” to the atmospheric “Revolution Begins,” and even to the stirring instrumental, “Intermezzo Liberte,” Arch Enemy refuses to be labeled and categorized. Each song is a complex amalgamation of differing styles, ideas, and genres. Just before one section becomes monotonous, it changes and offers a different facet; Tyrant remain fresh and uncompromising throughout.
While other bands this late in their career start to stagnate and lose focus, Arch Enemy keeps pushing their boundaries and reaching for new grounds. Rise of the Tyrant is a brutal and beautiful experience that sees an already amazing band barrel past all expectations. Outstanding.