Monthly Archives: June 2011

Arch Enemy-Khaos Legions

 

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.

 

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Warrant-Rockaholic

There is one question you need to ask yourself before you listen to Rockaholic, the new album from Warrant. How much does one member make?

The one member missing is lead singer/songwriter Jani Lane. He has been replaced by Robert Mason, who some may remember from his stint in Lynch Mob. Bands have changed singers all the time and still succeed in releasing quality material. In fact, many of Warrant’s contemporaries have shuffled singers so many times it looks like a fantasy baseball league. To the band’s credit, all the other members are from the original line-up.

So personnel matters aside, how does it sound? Pretty good actually. There are a staggering 14 tracks and not a stinker in the bunch. Some of the highlights are the opener “Sex Ain’t Love” a perfect hard rockin’ calling card that acknowledges the bands sleaze past without sounding dated. “Dusty’s Revenge”, a great slinky rocker that has the requisite western theme to it. Seriously, what is the deal with hard rock bands and their affinity for westerns?

While there is no talk of horses or sunsets, “Life’s A Song” is a fabulously catchy song that is so good, you can see the video that should accompany it in your head as it plays. The one curious part of the song us that they lyrics seem to have an Alanis influence. Warrant’s use of metaphors seem to have a distinctive “Ironic” feel to them.

For me the highlight of the album is “What Love Can Do”. It is quite possibly the poppiest song the band has ever recorded Definitely more AOR than it is Hard Rock, but it is so damn tasty that it doesn’t matter. It’s the kind of song that automatically brings a smile to the listeners face.

A previously mentioned, Rockaholic does have 14 songs. The band must me commended for laying the tracks out in an order that assures the album has a real nice flow to it.

Now back to the original question. Does Warrant really miss Jani Lane? After listening to Rockaholic, I think the answer is no. While it would have been nice to have Lane’s very underrated songwriting in the fold. The band seems to have done a respectable job of picking up the slack and Robert Mason helps to give the band a new identity. Rockaholic is a nice first page in the bands 2nd chapter.

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