A ‘Godless Entity’ Brings the Pain
If there could ever be such a genre as “Arena Death Metal,” Arch Enemy would be a strong example. Since 1996, this Swedish supergroup (composed of former members of Carcass, Spiritual Beggars, Mercyful Fate and others) has been consistently churning out collections of palatable, melodic, powerful, big songs. Since 2001, singer Angela Gossow has proven women can scream and growl just as effectively and demonically as men. With their latest, Khaos Legions, Arch Enemy unapologetically continues along this path.
The albums opens with a nice tapping solo introduction by lead guitarist and founder, Michael Arnott. Laden with sound effects, you can imagine the smoke and lasers as the show lets loose. Unfortunately it is interrupted by an ineffective, cheesy spoken bit that describes who the Khaos Legions are, but it also lets the listener know this is a concept album.
From that point on, the album takes itself quite seriously, providing catchy riffs somewhere between Europe’s “The Final Countdown” (especially on closing number “Secrets”) and Slayer’s “South of Heaven” (most notably on “Cruelty Without Beauty”). Gossow’s vocals, while comparable in quality to many others in the black metal vein, are also intelligible for the most part (though not enough to make anyone understand or care who the “Khaos Legions” are, aside from being a “godless entity”).
The structure of the songs shows some creativity and forethought, especially the way it breaks down from high arpeggios to guttural riffs, and switches to mellow acoustic moments. None of this appears overindulgent, though, thanks to a modest average length for each song. Most clock in under five minutes, so just when you’re almost tired of the tune, it’s over. The same goes for Khaos Legions as a whole. It’s not brilliant, but it has some inspired moments, and it’s over before it overstays its welcome.