"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Arch Enemy - "The Root Of All Evil" (CD)

Arch Enemy - "The Root Of All Evil" CD cover image

"The Root Of All Evil" track listing:

1. The Root of All Evil
2. Beast of Man
3. The Immortal
4. Diva Satanica
5. Demonic Science
6. Bury Me An Angel
7. Dead Inside
8. Dark Insanity
9. Pilgrim
10. Demoniality
11. Transmigration Macabre
12. Silverwing
13. Bridge of Destiny

Reviewed by on September 18, 2009

"In short, this record supplies the balls that early recordings lacked, and with a female vocalist at that."

At the top of their career in modern melodic death metal, Arch Enemy revitalizes its oft-overlooked early material from “Black Earth” up until “Burning Bridges” with the definitive band lineup from the times of “Wages of Sin” onward. This lineup delivers a dreamy combination of superior musicianship and energy in “The Root of All Evil,” giving the early records the production they lacked and the talents of an immensely better vocalist. The Amott brothers on guitars, Michael and Christopher, as well as bassist Sharlee D’Angelo, drummer Daniel Erlandsson, and vocalist Angela Gossow make for a monumental celebration of early Arch Enemy music. In short, this record supplies the balls that early recordings lacked, and with a female vocalist at that.

The first and most noticeable modification to the Arch Enemy sound we hear are the gritty and furious vocals of Arch Enemy’s Swedish blonde metal queen, providing a more thrilling and listenable result. Compared to earlier vocalist Johan Liiva, Gossow is a godsend. Her vocal delivery is clearer and free of the huffy and raw nature of Liiva’s. Her work throughout this re-recording is fierce and multi-faceted, ranging from layered low and high growls to screeches and fiendish guttural growls. Still, without a lyrics sheet in front of you, you may not be able to figure out what she’s saying. Such is the nature of the death metal vocal style – two parts lyrical, three parts aesthetically menacing.

The next point of note is the slick new production of this album, utilizing Andy Sneap’s signature mixing style and the recording abilities of band member Daniel Erlandsson and Rickard Bengtsson. It boasts a clear, punishingly bright and flattering mix for a top-tier metal band, allowing every instrument to wow you at its leisure. The production on the guitars is also a nice step up from the ones on prior recordings, bringing a full multi-dimensional feel to their sound.

At the top of their game, this new record of old songs smacks of their most recent albums, which is exactly what a talented and musically consistent band would want. Arch Enemy have remained pioneers, though also bearing the prestige of being a band with a history behind them. What better way to make sure that nobody forgets your early days than re-recording the most successful and fan-loved songs again with a better lineup and crushing new sound? New Arch Enemy fans will get their kicks, old fans will jump for joy, and non-fans have no reason not to like this other than “It’s not my style.” Make this a part of your collection and worship some of the golden gods of melodic death metal.

Highs: Crystal clear new production, tighter playing, immensely more capable vocalwork.

Lows: Not much new other than a re-vamping of prior material.

Bottom line: A great-sounding reminder of how true Arch Enemy has stayed to its roots – heavy, uncompromising, memorable, and quite a worthwhile buy.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)