Arch Enemy - Doomsday Machine
Century Media
Gothenburg/Neo-Thrash
11 songs (49:02)
Release year: 2005
Arch Enemy, Century Media
Reviewed by Cody
Major event

In 1996, the metal world was given an unfortunate breakup of one of the world's great death metal bands, but in its wake rose a powerful new entry into the prospering Gothenburg scene. I am of course speaking of the demise of Carcass, and the rise of the Amott Brother's project Arch Enemy.

That year we saw two Swedish albums, Swansong and Black Earth, both different projects in their own right. These albums represented the death of one Amott band, and the birth of another. Arch Enemy was seen by many as a renaissance of sorts for Amott, who by all accounts of many fans, was leaving a sinking ship. Swansong despite being original and quite progressive, was seen as a mortal wound for a band that had nowhere else to go. Thankfully, the Carcass fanbase (specifically those of their Heartwork material), were revitalized and given a new hope in the shape of old school dueling guitar work, infectious melodies, all displayed over the uncompromising aggression that our lovely little Swedish scene during the 90's was pumping out full force. Arch Enemy was given life unto a scene that accepted it with a warm embrace.

Almost 10 years have passed since the dawn of Arch Enemy. During this time, the band has maintained a reputation of flawless musicianship, aggression, and melodic hooks that few other bands have employed. However, with the replacement vocals of Angela Gossow, some saw this as a publicity stunt to help build popularity. Soon, Arch Enemy was appearing on Headbanger's Ball and on the racks of popular metal shelves at Best Buy's, Tower Records', and FYE's all over the United States...and the world. Despite the rise to popularity, some older fans were questioning the path Arch Enemy was pursuing with the addition of Angela, whose vocal style was not as harsh as Johan's had been. Still, the band released Wages of Sin to much fanfare from new and old fans alike. Despite a slight shift in sound, the band was employing catchier and catchier hooks and rythyms that kept their listeners coming back for more. Unfortunately, that trend changed in 2003 with their 5th studio album, Anthems of Rebellion.

For me, Arch Enemy was what got me into extreme metal. Their music , dare I say, is beautiful to the same degree as it is aggressive. The combination of absolute melody and absolute death made this band very exotic and a real treat for my ears. Because of the impact this band had on me, I tend to be quite critical of their new material. I have listened with great appreciation of their work up through Anthems of Rebellion with great admiration. Unfortunately, many fans are quite critical and don't take well to change. Anthems saw a change to a more straight forward, polished sound, of which many listeners read as a further transition to the mainstream audiences. With the dramatic shift in sound from In Flames and Soilwork on their recent works, some are fearing that the transition of Arch Enemy is upon us. Unfortunately, for those "glass half empty" fans, they will not be very pleased with the band's 2005 outing, of which I now consider myself apart of.

The latest release from Arch Enemy, entitled Doomsday Machine employs even slicker production, interlaced sound effects with the vocals, less guitars, less speed, less melody, and most of all...less originality. Now, none of this maybe dramatically obvious to the common listener, but as someone who has been listening to the band steadily for the last 4 years (which is small in comparison to even longer term fans who have been with them through the 90's), I immediately got a different vibe from the band. I have listened to this album many times trying to become accustomed to this doubtful feeling, and while I have picked up on more things I like about it, that feeling is still with me. Finally, while listening to this record once again as I write this review, I have come to the conclusion that this a weak album by Arch Enemy standards. I have stood by these guys through the vocalist change, the rise in popularity and the change in sound, defending them from criticism the whole way. This is kind of a hard review to write, as I kind of feel I am betraying this band by writing negative comments, but as a reviewer and faithful listener, it is my duty to tell it like it is...which leads this review to arrive full circle to where it started.

To me its kind of ironic, that the band that had forged ahead as the next great hope for Carcass loyalists, is now seemingly headed in the same direction. No I am not alluding to some assumption that Doomsday Machine is a dramatic change in sound like Carcass released in their death throws, but I am fearful we are seeing the death of something special. I can almost guarantee that Arch Enemy will continue, unabaited, making records for many years to come, but now I must question the path this band is taking. I must now step down as one of the faithful and join the rising population of skeptics that will undoubtedly listen to new albums as they are released, but instead will listen as critics, instead of believers.

Arch Enemy may have released a new sound, but with the edited vocals, the lack of melody (in comparison to their normal barrage), the repetition, and the reduction in our beloved duel guitars, the sign of things to come is growing ever more chaotic between the loyalists and the critics creating much more pressure on the band. What will happen next is completely up to the the creative spirit of Amott; how the fans respond to this creative spirit, has me worried.

Killing Songs :
Machtkampf
Cody quoted 70 / 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 10 reviews click here
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