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Arch Enemy - "Khaos Legions" (CD)

Arch Enemy - "Khaos Legions" CD cover image

"Khaos Legions" track listing:

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

Reviewed by on June 8, 2011

"Every time I listened to 'Khaos Legions,' I felt that the band simply wasn't inspired, which is a shame considering how most of their discography is about as good as Swedish death metal gets."

After four years without any new material and only a re-recording of old material to hold over fans, it certainly took long enough for the new Arch Enemy album to debut. So while "Khaos Legions" was one of the most anticipated metal albums of 2011, it fails to live up to its potential. It doesn't break any new ground, but there are a handful of solid tracks to keep fans interested. After a long wait, "Khaos Legions" is a truly disappointing follow up to "Rise of the Tyrant."

"Khaos Legions" is an album that struggles with its need to improve upon their best work to date. "Rise of the Tyrant" was in many ways a perfect album and no matter what Arch Enemy did next would be forced to live in the shadow of what came before. So while some disappointment was inevitable, Arch Enemy decides to play it safe and write an album that didn't make any real changes to their sound. The problem is that the band plays it too safe and as a result won't win over anybody who doesn’t already enjoy the band's work. The biggest issue that "Khaos Legions" has is that it doesn’t so much sound like a new Arch Enemy album as much as it does a band imitating Arch Enemy. It's not as banal as "Anthems of Rebellion" was, but it's simply mediocre and not worthy of either the Arch Enemy name or the long delay between albums.

Arch Enemy has created an album that will be remembered simply for how forgettable it is. "Khaos Legions" is saturated with reused riffs and songwriting that often doesn’t flow well and seems to miss a lot of opportunities to do something new and different. The band is still technically proficient, but seems to miss so many opportunities to do something creative with their sound. "Khaos Legions" certainly won't hold the attention of anybody familiar with the band and know what they're capable of.

Not only are many of the songs unmemorable, but there are also three obvious filler tracks that consist of nothing more than Michael Amott soloing. The man's already proven time and time again that he has chops, but three tracks consisting of unused ideas for solos is just sloppy. There are already eleven full songs on here and the band should have instead tightened their arrangements instead of allowing Michael to record himself noodling around.

Worse yet is the fact that Angela Gossow has managed to really degenerate as a lyricist. Many of the same words are emphasized between songs, while many of her lyrics come across as silly and too cheesy to take seriously. The fact that some of her lyrics in the past have been so much more creative makes "Khaos Legions" even more frustrating to listen to. Every time I listened to "Khaos Legions," I felt that the band simply wasn't inspired, which is a shame considering how most of their discography is about as good as Swedish death metal gets.

There are still a handful of tracks that stand out and will probably be played live during this album's touring cycle. "Yesterday is Dead and Gone," "Under Black Flags We March," "Cruelty Without Beauty" and "Vengeance is Mine" stand as Arch Enemy's best songs on the album and it's a shame that they're surrounded by so much crap. While I can't recommend "Khaos Legions" as a whole, there are still four tracks worth purchasing as singles on iTunes.

"Khaos Legions" is an album full of missed opportunities and undeveloped ideas that the band had more than enough time to write and record. I, along with many others, expected the band to produce an absolutely stunning album, and "Khaos Legions" does nothing but disappoint. Aside from some great solo work, there isn't much else that managed to hold my attention in the way that the band's previous albums have. "Khaos Legions" is only for the band's most loyal fans. Everyone else should download a few of the tracks and pass on the rest.

Highs: Michael Amott is still an awesome guitarist, there are still a few truly amazing songs on here

Lows: Too many filler tracks, too many reused riffs from older albums, the material is not of the same quality that fans associate with Arch Enemy, too much of the album is forgettable, cheesy lyrics

Bottom line: "Khaos Legions" is anti-climactic, after having to wait four years for new material.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)