Satan almighty, what a blow to the skull! Blood On Your Hands kicks off the new Arch Enemy album like a Premier League player and a true riff-frenzy pours out of the speakers. Never mind the brutality of Angela Gossow – we have more or less gotten used to the fact that she’s more true steel than Joey DeMaio ever was or will be – but the guitars set the agenda and so utterly dominate this album.
Frederik Nordström’s production fares well with Arch Enemy, I think, leaving them with a suitably dynamic and layered sound as well as lots of room for, yes, the guitars.
The label death metal is a bit flat in this case, and I actually do think ‘Rise of the Tyrant’ is a lot more than just that. Although hard as rock, many of the tunes are clearly tied to a sound and feeling that we predominantly heard in 1980s hardrock. Take a track such as The Day You Died – I feel I’ve returned to a time when Saxon, Leppard and Maiden were cutting edge – and then add a very angry woman and improved studio technology, of course…
One of the little strokes of genius of the album is the instrumental Intermezzo Liberté, a piece that captures the feeling that made Malmsteen and his Rising Force so great on the first couple of albums and shows that Michael Amott would probably be capable of following in Malmsteen’s footsteps – if he could be bothered, that is. Exquisite 2:51 minute piece, there, and the traces of the classical riffing continue in Night Falls First and Vultures.
Try it! If you’re reluctant, check out the track The Great Darkness – this is a death metal masterpiece, none barred!