ARCH ENEMY: RISE OF THE TYRANT (2007)
1) Blood On Your Hands; 2) The Last Enemy; 3) I Will Live Again; 4) In This Shallow Grave; 5) Revolution Begins; 6) Rise Of The Tyrant; 7) The Day You Died; 8) Intermezzo Liberté; 9) Night Falls Fast; 10) The Great Darkness; 11) Vultures.
If I am not mistaken, the average metal-fan response to Rise Of The Tyrant was generally more positive than to Doomsday Machine. The album does pack quite a punch, going ever and ever heavier on brutality. «Artsy» touches are reduced to an absolute minimum — this time, 'Blood On Your Hands' opens the session without any atmospheric buildups, getting straight to the point in about five seconds. Acoustic interludes have been flushed out of existence, and the tempos are very steadily balanced between «fast» and «lightning fast».
In addition, there is no more double-tracking on Gossow's vocal parts: all of the growling is recorded «live», in an attempt to match the unmediated onslaught of a genuine Arch Enemy show. I am not sure if that was a good decision, though — the double-tracking gave that awesome growl a surrealistic sheen, as if actual demons were genuinely swooshing around the room, whereas the «pure» growling on Tyrant, especially when it rises high above the instrumental din (or during the brief accappella moments, e.g. "REMEMBER!" on 'Blood On Your Hands'), is thinner, and thus, more ghost-like; besides, you get to hear better what the woman is really doing to her throat, and that makes me a little nervous.
Finally, more than ever before, the lyrics and moods have focused on issues of freedom-fighting and stuff. The title track is introduced with a rather lengthy quotation of dialog from Caligula (the scene in which McDowell demands that the Senate proclaim him God) — and the entire album is permeated with the hyperbolic feeling of an impending threat of you-know-what. Occasionally, Gossow turns to «lyrical» subjects ('The Day You Died', a simple goth tale), and at least one song could be qualified as «straightforwardly suicidal» ('I Will Live Again'), but overall, it's the same old story: the tyrant rise, the meek shall fall, revolution is imminent, and, of course, plenty of blood and guts to go 'round. Same old story, whipped to swirling frenzy.
The only thing that seems to be completely missing from Rise Of The Tyrant is interesting songwriting. The basic formula works in the old way, but only 'Blood On Your Hands', I think, has a decent structure and melodic, evocative lead lines. Everything else is just supertight generic speed runs that merge with one another in a manner so irritating I do not think I have ever been so much irritated since listening to Black Earth. There is nothing here even remotely approaching the creep-of-doom of 'My Apocalypse': as I said, «atmosphere» has been flushed out, and so have atmospheric riffs, replaced by finger-flashing. Even on tracks like 'The Great Darkness', mildly enlivened with bits of «medieval» Latin chanting, the guitar melodies fail to grab.
I mean, for God's sake, if this is called «melodic death metal», we are at least entitled to hearing some new melodies on each ensuing album, right or wrong? Up until Doomsday Machine, such was the case, but here, it isn't even that there is no «progression» – it seems to be one of those cases in which a formerly inventive band suddenly gets this ridiculous urge to «get back to basics», and produce a very «basic» – and a very boring – piece, whose only achievement is in showing us listeners that it is really hopeless to go against the flow, and hinder your own development. Well, it is my free right to disrespect this attitude, and so, in a state of total disrespect, a thumbs down for Rise Of The Tyrant. It doesn't help, either, that I do not know of any actual tyrants having risen in 2007. Unless they somehow mean the release of the last Harry Potter book.
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