Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: Arch Enemy - Doomsday Machine

Band: Arch Enemy
Album: Doomsday Machine
Year: 2005
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Arch Enemy have been creating Melodic Death Metal since their first release in 1996. Many fans consider the addition of Angela Gossow to be the downfall of the group. I can’t rightly judge that because I only have their first album and it seems to be of quite a different quality than their current material.

The first thing I noticed when listening to this album was the vocals. God they are awful. Its not that the vocalist is female, I quite enjoy Iwrestledabearonce and Light This City both who have female vocalists. Its that Angela’s vocals are so ridiculously processed and layered it just sounds terrible! It comes off mechanical and fake and totally ruins that part of the band and their music.

Secondly, I have to point out her lyrics. They are extremely shallow and it sounds like they were written by a pissed off 6th grader. She takes lyrical immaturity to a new level.

Still if you get passed the bad vocals and lyrics there is still some good music to be found here. The album starts off with an instrumental called Enter the Machine. Nothing real special but it does have a certain charm to it as it musically builds throughout the song.

The second track is Taking Back My Soul. This is a heavy number and the solo work by Christopher Amott is breathtaking. The actual verse riff isn’t half bad itself but it’s the riff during the chorus where the Amott brothers make it really work. The bridge isn’t too bad either and guitar chops are shown through a rather impressive group of solos.

After Taking Back My Soul is Nemesis. It starts off at thrash speeds but tapers off to a mid pace during the majority of the verse. This song especially showcases the awful lyrics and it becomes painful during the chorus. Once again the best of the music is during the chorus where Michael Amott can be heard playing a melodic little piece while Christopher keeps the rhythm going layered under his brothers guitar.

Its with the songs after the next track, My Apocalypse, that the quality kind of drops off. This song itself isn’t too bad and is a slower song but is quite enjoyable. There is an electronic sound that pops up throughout the song, like a radar ping on a submarine going off that sounds alright. Halfway through the song there is a sort of softer interlude with clean guitars being played and it’s a nice change of pace. There is also a nice slower solo played here as well. The next song, Carry the Cross isn’t that annoying but nothing really to speak of, it does have a strong chorus but its also VERY slow through the majority of it.

The album’s drumming isn’t too bad, Daniel plays quick, slow, whatever the song requires. He is a very competent drummer and its easy to see why he was chosen to replace Ken Owen after Carcass decided to reform (allowing him to play with his current band mate Michael Amott who is also in their lineup).

The rest of the tracks are kind of “meh”, nothing special. Seems the first half of the album isn’t actually all that bad, and depending on how you like your metal you might even enjoy the second half. But for me its just too difficult to get over the sad vocals and juvenile lyrics. This is a case where one person can single handedly ruin an otherwise alright album. So in summary, first half of album isn’t too bad in spite of the shitty growling and bad lyrics because the songs are pretty good themselves but after that I kind of kept checking my watch wondering how much longer I'd have to listen to this.

Score: 4/10
Standout Track: Taking Back My Soul

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