Arch Enemy has had an interesting career. The death metal band was formed out of the ashes of the legendary Carcass. Arch Enemy quickly found success. Then after 3 well received albums they changed singers. Not only did they switch singers, they hired an unknown female singer to do the unthinkable. Angela Gassow was to sing in the guttural style that had not been done by a woman. She did and the band achieved a new level of success. However, many original fans thought the band sold out original singer Johan Liva and that Gassow was nothing more than a gimmick to appeal to the, then burgeoning, Hot Topic crowd. Arch Enemy did not help themselves any when the next couple of albums were very blah. They lost the aggression and power that were their hallmarks and replaced them with songs that seem more focused on “anthems”. Songs became streamlined and lost their appeal once the were heard the first time.
Khaos Legions is a good step towards reclaiming the laurels of the past. Legions is much more aggressive than more recent releases. It is helped by the improvement of Angela’s vocals. While she did have a nice growl on previous albums, on Legions she has a lot more power and a sinister vibe to them. There is more of a “shredded throat” sound. They should help shed some of the “sellout” feelings that many of her detractors may have had.
The first single from the album “Yesterday Is Dead and Gone” serves as the perfect entree on Khaos Legions. While not that original it is very inviting and seeps into the listener and allows the rest of the album to follow. Plus its features one of the crazier guitar sounds out there. Michael Amott gets his guitar to sound like a computerized baby bird gargling. Arch Enemy has one of the better guitar duos in metal. The Amott brothers do not disappoint this time out. Lots of nice riffs and some real tasty dual harmonies especially on “Vengeance Is Mine”. The band also has 4 instrumentals on here. While they may be short they do give a different feel to the album. The last one “Snow Bound” is an acoustic track that closes Khaos Legions out. However one of the albums highlights comes right before it. Arch Enemy is not afraid to do a cover, and this time they chose a doozy, the classic Scorpions song “The Zoo”. This legendary song is given an animalistic treatment and is faster, rawer, and more brutal than the original but still retaining the identity of the original track.
The whipping boy of any good metal album has always been religion and Khaos Legions is no exception. There seems to be more of a concertinaed effort with 5 songs having that theme. While some might think it is pandering it seems to fit with Angela’s new style.
You have to give Arch Enemy some credit. It must be tough for a band to change that far in the game. While this is not along the levels of what Celtic Frost did, Arch Enemy seems to have tweaked their sound and released in Khaos Legions an album that puts them back on the map.