Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions (Century Media Records)
Release date : May 30th 2011 (EU), June 7, 2011 (US)
After four long years of waiting, the newest studio release by Swedish crushers Arch Enemy, a blistering opus of personal freedom entitled Khaos Legions has finally become ready for public consumption. Khaos Legions marks the band’s first effort worth of new material since 2007’s Rise of the Tyrants. However, the wait has been worth it, Angela and company have created a new masterpiece, and the results scream for themselves.
Khaos Legions was created at Sweet Spot studio in Sweden, and produced by the band along with Richard Bengtsson, who also worked with the band on 2005’s Doomsday Machine. The lineup for the new album remains the same, with Angela Gossow behind the microphone, Christopher and Michael Amott handling guitar duties, Sharlee D’Angelo manning the low end of the spectrum, and beat man Daniel Erlandsson. Additionally, guesting on this album is none other than keyboardist Per Wiberg of fellow Swedish metal band Opeth. As is normal for the band, the vocals are in the forefront here, with Gossow’s death-growling coming through loud and clear. Right behind that is the excellent guitar work of the Amott brothers – who trade off blistering leads with fast hand rhythm work. And of course, Erlandsson’s drumming and D’Angelo’s four string hold everything together nicely.
When your musical output is as consistently strong as Arch Enemy‘s the notion of besting themselves with each new album becomes ridiculous. Khaos Legions is not the band’s most notable work, but rather another excellent sonic beast to add to their growing legacy.
The album features fourteen songs (including 3 instrumentals) to feast your ears upon, and the first track, “Khaos Overture”, sets the tone for the anarchy that is to follow. Sampled police sirens, along with a gloriously evil sounding spoken word introduction segue into blistering guitar work, along with Gossow reminding us that “Yesterday is Dead and Gone”.
“Yesterday Is Dead and Gone” is the album’s first single and hooks you immediately with it’s wailing lead riff. From there the song jumps into a decidedly melodic but moody piece that shows off all the things we love about Arch Enemy: Brilliant guitar work, with solid rhythms and Gossow’s caustic snarling and thought provoking lyrical content. Don’t be surprised if this one keeps popping up in your head throughout the day.
Next up is the hyperspeed “Blood Stained Cross”, a brutal and no-holds-barred protest of religion. “Under Black Flags We March” continues the Anarchist manifesto, kicking off with D’Angelo’s chugging bass. Gossow takes us into a subject she’s both angry and passionate about on “No Gods, No Masters”.
One of the highlights is the seventh track on the album, a piece entitled “Through the Eyes of a Raven”, which also happens to be the longest, spanning five plus minutes. This is another song that encompasses the best of Arch Enemy, and really lets all the band members shine. In addition to that the track closes with an interesting acoustic outro, something new fans may not be expecting from the first six tracks.
Khaos Legions represents some of the band’s speediest and at times heaviest material to date. Just listen to “Cult of Chaos” and “Thorns In My Flesh” for some mosh pit paradise. Drummer Erlandsson is absolutely crushing on “Vengeance Is Mine.”
Arch Enemy has come back with a fury on Khaos Legions. Once again igniting the flame and blistering our faces. While this is not their seminal album or most notable work, it will stand up to anything in their catalog, and the band can hold their collective heads high. The death metal flag continues to wave proudly under blackened skies. Khaos Legions rises to the challenge, and will not disappoint, proving that personal freedom and anarchy lead to some really fucking good music.
Highlights: Yesterday is Dead and Gone, Through the Eyes of a Raven, Blood Stained Cross, Cruelty Without Beauty