A single entity that encapsulates the best of Arch Enemy

From their humble, underground beginnings to the current female-fronted powerhouse that they are today, Arch Enemy have always delivered solid Swedish death metal that has gained them a fan base that grows with every new release.

They have hit peaks with influential albums such as Burning Bridges and Wages of Sin, then segued into more commercial based territory with Anthems of Rebellion and Doomsday Machine that ultimately led to the somewhat patchy Rise of the Tyrant. So, when Arch Enemy announced their new studio album entitled Khaos Legions, this writer was unsure which direction the band was going to head into.

Fortunately, Khaos Legions is a beast of its own. It builds on the positives of their past releases and fixes the negatives by delivering a blatant middle finger, driven by a raw and unbridled sound with some of the finest songwriting to come from the band in quite some time. With the opening strains of the instrumental “Khaos Overture”, it’s pretty clear that the band mean business. “Yesterday is Dead and Gone” is a relentless four-minute barrage that bears all the signature traits Arch Enemy are known and loved for – crushing rhythms, blistering leads and Angela Gossow’s vocal attack, with plenty of their melodic metal influence underpinning it all.

One of the things that let Rise of the Tyrant down was that it sounded rushed. Khaos Legions on the other hand sounds consistent and it seems like there was a lot more time taken in the creative stages. Tracks such as “Cruelty Without Beauty” (with a touching classical guitar outro), “Thorns in My Flesh”, “City of the Dead” and “Cult of Chaos” sound like a mixture of the Wages and Bridges eras with their own little idiosyncrasies. “Through the Eyes of a Raven”, “Under Black Flags We March” and “No Gods, No Masters” draw from the recent era, but with a stronger, more dominant driving force. And in a complete twist and turn the closing tracks “Vengeance is Mine” and “Secrets” invoke memories of their debut Black Earth.

The Amott brothers don’t hold back in the solo department either. The riffs, leads and harmonies are just mindblowing and made my jaw hit the desk. As individual soloists, they bring different styles to the table – Michael with his blues-based/wah-driven leads and Chris with his technical yet melodic work – but when they harmonize and work together, it all falls into place. A perfect example would be “Secrets”. It just sounds right. Sharlee D’Angelo and Daniel Erlandsson’s rhythm section is tight and mechanical and keeps the machine rolling along. From a vocal standpoint, the approach is stripped back and makes Angela sound raw, very pissed off and quite intense and that said, the production from Rickard Bengtsson combined with Andy Sneap’s mixing and mastering matches that approach – raw and right in your face while kicking your arse from start to finish.

Khaos Legions brings a little bit of everything from their past albums and throws it into the musical pot, creating a single entity that encapsulates the best of Arch Enemy. It will no doubt satisfy their fanbase and may recover some fans who had grown weary of their last few efforts. It is possibly their finest hour since the early-to-mid 00s and proclaims that Arch Enemy is here to stay. If you don’t like it, well you know what to do.

1. Khaos Overture
2. Yesterday is Dead and Gone
3. Bloodstained Cross
4. Under Black Flags We March
5. No Gods, No Masters
6. City of the Dead
7. Through the Eyes of a Raven
8. Cruelty Without Beauty
9. We are a Godless Entity
10. Cult of Chaos
11. Thorns in My Flesh
12. Turn to Dust
13. Vengeance is Mine
14. Secrets