Arch Enemy - Black Earth
Wrong Again Records
Melodic Death Metal
9 songs (32'46)
Release year: 1996
Arch Enemy
Reviewed by Crims
Archive review

Black Earth, the debut from Arch Enemy is a lesson in aggression and subtle melodies. Fresh from his stint in Carcass, Michael Amott joined with his brother Christopher to make a CD that took the sound of older Swedish Death, and mixed it with a touch of Heartwork era Carcass then added in more melody. The result is one of the best debuts from any Metal band in the mid 90’s.

While Arch Enemy can correctly be termed as Melodic Death Metal, they have very little in common with bands like Dark Tranquillity and In Flames musically. Arch Enemy on Black Earth, are almost Thrashy in nature, being very riff heavy, with a lot of fast drumming and memorable leads. A lot of the riffs have that Carcass Death/Groove feel that was present on Heartwork as well and it mixes very well into the songs. Johan Liiva, who sang on the Carnage demos (Michael Amott’s first group, and one of the first Swedish Death bands), handles the vocals on Black Earth. While he sounds really good on Fields Of Desolation and Bury Me An Angel, overall his vocal performance is somewhat lacking. I’ve never been a huge fan of Liiva, as his style used is a somewhat grunt/growl that sounds like it’s almost spoken, rather than sung. Sometimes he sounds good, other times he doesn’t, but his gruff style does fit the music and you have to give him some credit; due to the fact that no one really sounds like him. Music wise most of this CD is very fast, especially the brutal opener, Bury Me An Angel. Other songs have some mid-paced, almost groove heavy sections, but generally speaking this is very fast Metal with plenty of double bass and aggressive drum runs, which are handled superbly by Daniel Erlandsson. The leads are also excellent with both brothers having distinct styles, and they really add a lot to the songs. In fact, Cosmic Retribution has one of my favorite sequences of leads. First is a blistering solo from Michael Amott, which eventually goes into an acoustic solo from Christopher Amott that fits surprisingly well. About ¾ of the way through this solo, some double bass comes in which eventually paves the way for the distorted guitars to come roaring back with Christopher Amott delivering a melodic solo of his own. Sure, there are better played solos out there, but just something about this sequence really makes it cool (for lack of a better word).

The only faults of this CD can be pinpointed to an overall vocal performance that isn’t quite at the same level as the music and a short length. There are only 7 full-length tracks on here, with the weakest being Transmigration Macabre, although this track is still has a lot of good moments. There are two 1-minute instrumentals, both of which are actually quite useful and good, however, 7 full length tracks is still a bit on the short side. Regardless though, this is an exceptional release that contains first-rate riffs, leads, drum work, and song writing. One of the most brutal and heavy Melodic Death Metal releases to be sure.

Editorial Edit: Black Earth, originally released throughout Europe in 1997 and sold as an import in North America is finally being officially released by Regain Records with bonus tracks and a video for Bury Me an Angel.
Killing Songs :
Bury Me An Angel, Dark Insanity, Cosmic Retribution, and Fields Of Desolation
Crims quoted 93 / 100
Alex quoted 84 / 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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