ARCH ENEMY: ANTHEMS OF REBELLION (2003)
1) Tear Down The Walls; 2) Silent Wars; 3) We Will Rise; 4) Dead Eyes See No Future; 5) Instinct; 6) Leader Of The Rats; 7) Exist To Exit; 8) Marching On A Dead End Road; 9) Despicable Heroes; 10) End Of The Line; 11) Dehumanization; 12) Anthems; 13) Saints And Sinners.
At this point, Arch Enemy's albums become more or less interchangeable. With Gossow perfectly filling up the last gap in the puzzle, the formula was completed, and the Amott brothers adopted the «AC/DC mentality». As long as their fingers could keep up the speed, their brains – supply a steady stream of new riffs, and the blonde lady's larynx – serve as Lucifer's personal megaphone, why change anything? Just keep the fan happy.
Thus, whether a particular post-Wages Of Sin record sounds good or bad essentially depends on how many memorable riffs it yields — a fairly old story, that one — unless one just digs their established groove all by itself, in which case every record since Wages Of Sin is an inevitable must-hear. I am impressed by the groove — the guitarists and the devil-girl mesh together in a generic, but still somewhat unique manner — yet, of course, I'd also like me a memorable riff or two, or else I'd rather just keep relistening to the same Back In Black.
Fortunately, Anthems Of Rebellion has just enough of these to keep the customer satisfied. Although the title is constructed as the same kind of noun phrase as Wages Of Sin, it does a good job of reminding us that these guys are not so much your run-of-the-mill scary-satanists as they are (ohmygod whodathunkthat) Anti-Establishment and Anti-Conformism, and, other than the album title, they have a fairly good song here to remind us of it — 'We Will Rise' is certainly an anthem, and of the good kind at that, preferring to kick ass rather than strew pathos.
It does not hurt that the way Angela growls out "we will rise" brings on images of zombies rising from graves – even if, formally, the lyrics simply deal with rebelling against stereotypes. It does not hurt, either, that the trill-based anthemic melody of the chorus alternates well with the lean metallic riffage of the verses and an excellent buildup on the solos. It is, in fact, such a good song I could almost forget that I never take «growling numbers» seriously — besides, it is hard to imagine it sung with «clean» vocals.
Other than that, cool riffs may be found in the intro to 'Dead Eyes See No Future', in the chorus to 'Instinct', and on the bridge of 'Leader Of The Rats'. (None of these songs seems to be a complete masterpiece, though). 'Despicable Heroes' opens with an earth-shaking roar and plays out at the good old breakneck speed. On 'End Of The Line', one of the Amotts establishes a counterpoint to Gossow by chanting the chorus using clean vocals – strange, but it does produce a curiously moody effort (or does it strike me simply by being so unusual?). And the final riff of 'Saints And Sinners' is so nice in its warped evilness that the brothers cannot even resist the temptation to spin it for a few more bars, fading it out after all the other instruments have already finished playing.
In short, Anthems Of Rebellion has its modest supply of catchy goodies for those who were not disappointed in Wages Of Sin. Just ignore the laughable stream of lyrical clichés (although «rebellious» lyrical clichés are still a good notch ahead of totally corny «satanic» clichés), which is not that hard to do anyway, unless your brain has a pre-installed «growl-to-English» translator chip; and who knows, this might even fall into the «seriously impressive» category, as opposed to the «amusing metallic weirdos» section. On the whole, though, the ratio of good-to-mediocre riffage is ever so slightly lower than on Wages Of Sin; yet this should not be taken as a sign of the band's decline — with situations like these, it's always a game of chance.
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