Tuesday, 8 September 2009

CD Review: Wages of Sin, by Arch Enemy (2002)


For their fourth CD, Sweden's Arch Enemy ventured into territory where few heavy metal bands had gone before by recruiting Angela Gossow to front a death metal band. While it is at first jarring to hear that powerful low-pitched growl from an attractive woman, once the shock subsides, it is clear that Gassow perfectly complements the masterful twin-lead guitar attack of brothers Michael and Christopher Amott.

Wages of Sin represents a band at the peak of creative song-writing. The tracks are uniformly excellent, featuring complex yet tight structures, tempo changes that flow with a smoothness that only comes when talent is combined with inspiration. Memorable melodies are perfectly supported by stunning guitar solos, a drum sound that shakes the walls, and Gossow's vocals.

Wages of Sin opens with a double-barreled statement of intent. Enemy Within is a thunderous opener that announces the new band line-up with dazzling melodic guitar work, drums that boom across the terrain, and aggressively controlled vocals. Burning Angel follows with a haunting lyrical melody that can only be foreshadowing an impending doom, coupled with searing solos. Together, Enemy Within and Burning Angel deliver a majestic one-two punch that sets up this CD as a classic.

The slower and more straightforward Heart of Darkness showcases Gossow's voice. Ravenous re-establishes a faster tempo and is playful with one inquisitive riff. Savage Messiah delivers a gothic inspired slow and haunting melody, demonstrating the band's terrific versatility and confidence. Dead Bury Their Dead is a showcase of guitar virtuosity.

Which all leads to another brilliant track in Web of Lies, a beautiful melody driven by a mind-blowing combination of pulsing and searing guitars, supported by a massive drum sound. And speaking of punishing the drum set, The First Deadly Sin is all about combining speed and a light touch on the guitar with pure drum power. Behind the Smile is that rare heavy metal track that is slow, soulful, powerful, melodic and monstrous at the same time, while Shadows and Dust is a relatively simple yet terrifically effective melody driven by galloping guitar work.

Wages of Sin is one of the best heavy metal CDs ever, and proof that good things can happen when bands do the unexpected.

Band:

Angela Gossow - Vocals
Michael Amott - Lead Guitar
Christopher Amott - Lead Guitar
Sharlee D'Angelo - Bass
Daniel Erlandsson - Drums


Songlist (Ratings out of 10):

1. Enemy Within - 10
2. Burning Angel - 10 *See Video Below*
3. Heart of Darkness - 7
4. Ravenous - 10
5. Savage Messiah - 7
6. Dead Bury Their Dead - 9
7. Web of Lies - 10
8. The First Deadly Sin - 7
9. Behind the Smile - 9
10. Snow Bound - n/a (short instrumental)
11. Shadows and Dust - 10

Average: 8.90

Produced by Frederik Nordstrom and Michael Sneap.
Mixed by Andy Sneap.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.


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