Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges
Century Media
Melodic Death Metal
8 songs (35:46)
Release year: 1999
Arch Enemy, Century Media
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

We're just reaching for that low hanging fruit with this one. I can't even deny it! But this is somewhat topical. This lineup of Arch Enemy went out to Japan as Black Earth and rekindled an interest in the early era of the band. Let's be honest here, most people know of Arch Enemy post Liiva era and rightfully so. The band achieved a level of success that most dream of and each album since the Liiiva years has brought them more and more rewards. However, when we go back to the early days of Arch Enemy one can't help but notice the stark contrast in styles. I'm not even talking about the vocals, I mean the music.

Hopefully most people out there know that Arch Enemy sprung up from the defunct Carcass. I think this helps them stand out from their melodic death metal buddies. If you were to take In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates, and even Soilwork and compare everyone's early days, Arch Enemy would come across as the "heaviest." Dare I say it? Is it because they tuned the lowest on these three albums? They seemed to go for B tuning off the get go while the rest of the guys were in standard or E flat. Not that I'm complaining! I myself live in the world of E standard. Not to get into guitar nerd semantics too much, but B tuning is "the standard" for pure death metal. It was what Obituary was tuned onto after their first album, Slowly We Rot. Which by the the way, is considered one of the heaviest albums of all time done in E fucking standard. After the Jon Liiva era the rest of the Arch Enemy catalog is in C, which is actually kind of rare for a band to go UP in tuning. So, the following eras of the band ARE vastly different than this early one, it is not just folks being butthole curmudgeons. Speaking of Jon Liiva, he is the reason most people get butthurt about this era of the band. I WILL ADMIT, that I too was once taken aback at first when I heard his vocals. YES, he is an acquired taste much like King Diamond but on the other end of the spectrum of wailing falsettos. The reason he is shocking to hear is because Jon Liiva, at this time, sounded so primitive. And I mean that in a good way. He literally just shouts in this deep, but discernible voice. Only Mikael Stanne is this menacing while being so lucid. By the time Burning Bridges rolled around, he had gained the most mild of control over his shouting but at least he doesn't sound like he's running out of breath on this album. Still, he is unique amongst a sea of faceless chodes, and he did get better with each release.

The first four songs are practically legendary. The Immortal had a basic, yet very cool music video made which shows how intense Liiva is as a singer. Dead Inside is a roaring monster, and this is where Liiva shines. When he shouts, (not screams, not yells, not wails, but SHOUTS) that he is "dead inside," he sounds genuine. The Pilgrim is a fan favorite and Silverwing might as well be etched in stone. This one was re-recorded for a comp with Angela Gossow on vocals so it's more known than the rest of the album. As for the rest of the songs, Demonic Science is a barnstormer that rips through its duration. This one tends to go for a more thrash oriented sound, but it suits the band just fine. Angelclaw is a supreme highlight and just sounds menacing. I want to ask the band, did the title of this song spring from the back shot of the debut album? Anyways, this is melodic death metal glory. Fantasy type inspired lyrics of a demonic creature that fucking kills, mixed with raging riffs and vocals. What else can you ask of this genre? Honestly, the only song I'm not too into is the title track. The song itself, Burning Bridges is a painfully slow and plodding dirge with minimal chord changes. This just seems to go on forever until the cool violin outro. After essentially being such a tremendous album from the hitting of the play button, this ends up having a lackluster conclusion.

That the Liiva era of the band and the 2001 - current version are different is cemented by the fact that the band basically re-formed as Black Earth. While I obviously prefer the Liiva era, this has more to do with the rage, the bark, the anger that Jon Liiva conveys in these angry ass songs. Like mentioned earlier, this album is played in what is considered the "standard" tuning for almost all pure death metal, B, and Jon Liiva's lyrics are as clear as someone like Dave Mustaine. This isn't something like Paul Di' Anno vs Bruce Dickinson versions of songs in the same style and same tuning. I can honestly see more old school death metal aficionados getting into this era of Arch Enemy rather than people just recently exposed, that's how much of a difference there is.

Killing Songs :
All but the title track. For real.
Ben quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Arch Enemy that we have reviewed:
Arch Enemy - War Eternal reviewed by Joel and quoted 89 / 100
Arch Enemy - Khaos Legions reviewed by Tony and quoted 87 / 100
Arch Enemy - Stigmata reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Arch Enemy - Tyrants Of The Rising Sun - Live In Japan reviewed by Pete and quoted no quote
Arch Enemy - Rise Of The Tyrant reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 11 reviews click here
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