Arch Enemy - Doomsday Machine
Death metal squadron Arch Enemy are back with another assault of nice and melodic death metal with marvellous vocals by miss Gossow. At least that is what most of us want to believe but that is not entirely the truth this time either. This new album has been much anticipated by me for some time since I have adored Arch Enemy for quite some time. The last album Anthems Of Rebellion I thought was a bit lame, stiff and dry in its approach, although with decent songs, so it got a "good" grade after all. I had hoped for a comeback to the juicy and melodic area that I think has been their trademark and where they come out as their best.
It does not start promising, though. Taking Back My Soul, the first track out, is not especially interesting to not say a bit boring. The riffs are quite standard and there is no red thread in the song and it does not really lead anywhere. It lifts a bit during the chorus, though, but that is a short part of the whole. The next song, Nemesis, starts in a marvellous way with an extremely intense and catchy riff which turns into normal paced death metal and is good, even though nothing real special, but a good and heavy song. Follows does another mid paced crusher in form of My Apocalypse and again it is adequate but nothing you will shit your pants over. After just a few listenings of the album, it did this far into it feel a little bit like a disappointment. However after quite a few more listenings, I can go as far as saying that it is good but I am still not impressed. The songs took quite some time to get to me but they eventually did but not as much as I had hoped for.
The following Carry The Cross a real heavy grinding bit with a really powerful and mighty chorus sung brilliantly by Angela, but the song as a whole unfortunatly does not really stick out, due to pretty flat riffing in general. From here on there are another couple of songs that go by in a mid tempo and even after almost a dozen listening there is no song that are really rememberable to me. They have the characteristic Arch Enemy charisma but they lack good ideas, basically. I Am Legend/Out For Blood bring up the pace a bit again, but suffers as well from good ideas. Skelton Dance, Hybrids Of Steel, Mechanic God Creation and Slaves Of Yesterday are no exceptions from the beaten path so far - professionally and adequatly performed but without catches, memorable hooks and not least melodies. They are heavy and go in a slow, grinding tempo with not much melodies. They are not bad, but they do not really raise an interest either. The melodic side have had to stand apart quite a bit this time for a more crushing and heavy approach.
In the ending chapter, with the almost closing Machtkampf, a beacon of light appears since the song has a good flow and a nice rock'n'roll attitude to it. It is at those times Arch Enemy comes out as best, I think, and that is what I miss with this album: the uptempo and more melodic songs. This albums concentrates on the heavy and grinding crushers with the occasional uptempo midpart, and to me it feels like something is missing.
What I miss with Arch Enemy nowadays - something that they have always had before on previous albums - are good songs. Sure, the production is ace, the guitar riffs and the (few) solos that appear are good and Angela sings very, very good again - but the songs does not really grab a hold of you anymore. It is an unusual gray mess of chugga-chugga riffs and - while still good - a pretty non-saying approach which seems to stand with one foot on the american death/thrash ground and one foot on the swedish melodic ground. With more of the latter, I might give them 2 or 3 chalices more for next album if it's well done, but for now I simply can't go higher than this. It is pretty speaking for the album that one of the better riffs belongs on the Japan bonus track Bridge Of Destiny, which is a live track originally released on the album Stigmata (1998).
Unfortunatly, this is once again on an intermediate level. Good - nothing more, nothing less.