Arch Enemy ‘The Root Of All Evil’ Track-By-Track Preview
Containing a selection of completely re-recorded tracks from the band’s first three albums ‘Black Earth’ (1996), ‘Stigmata’ (1998) and ‘Burning Bridges’ (1999), Hammer scribe and blogger Dom Lawson brings you this track-by-track guide to ‘The Root Of Evil’.
THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL (INTRO)
As is traditional, the album begins with some spooky noises and an eerie, anticipatory atmosphere. Something loud and horrible is about to happen. Any second now…
BEAST OF MAN
Originally the opening track on the second Arch Enemy album, ‘Stigmata’, this is a fiery melodic death metal anthem that kicks off with a brooding, discordant riff and then erupts into the band’s trademark harmonious splendour for the hook-heavy chorus. Angela Gossow makes mincemeat of original vocalist Johan Liiva’s efforts within the first 30 seconds. She sounds positively livid.
Another opening track, this time from ‘Burning Bridges’ (the third Arch Enemy album from 1999), this is another flat-out shredder, bursting with razor-wire riffs and irresistible bursts of dark melody. There is also a mind-blowing solo section towards the end of the song, wherein first Christopher Amott and then brother Michael let rip with some peerless widdling.
First released as a bonus track on the Japanese version of ‘Stigmata’, this overlooked Enemy gem is one of the nastiest in the band’s catalogue, despite some gloriously emotive chord progressions that link verse to chorus. Angela is in full screeching demon mode here. If this was an episode of The X-Factor, the judges would say that she is “making the song her own”. She is also “nailing it”.
An epic and anthemic highlight from ‘Burning Bridges’, this tune was a live set mainstay for a number of years, and it’s obvious that Angela Gossow is brimming with confidence as she delivers a stunning vocal performance. When she screams “New flesh for a new world!”, it’s ever so slightly terrifying. The song’s finest moment comes when Gossow’s cry of “…a new dawn arrives!” melts into a beautiful and mildly cheesy lead guitar melody from Michael Amott, before the main riff reappears with maximum force: the Arch Enemy sound in a deafening nutshell. Some fantastic soloing from both Amott brothers as the song glides to a stately close, too.
BURY ME AN ANGEL
The very first song from the very first Arch Enemy album, ‘Black Earth’, this has lost none of its visceral power over the last 13 years and still sounds like the brutal birth of a highly individual and confident new band. Andy Sneap’s sublime mixing talents have made every one of these songs sound smarter, sharper and heavier than their earlier incarnations, but the update is most apparent here, as the Amotts’ magnificent riffs and treacly harmony leads send shivers up the spine. Or down it. Whichever. The crushing, slow riff that kicks in at 2:30 is another genuinely thrilling moment, and the reworked ending is an improvement on the original. Nice.
Another ‘Burning Bridges’ track, this is a great example of Arch Enemy letting their classic metal influences come to the fore. The whole song absolutely reeks of Iron Maiden, albeit cranked up to insane levels of brutality and heaviness, but it’s the chorus, with its gloriously over-the-top harmonies and Angela Gossow’s demonic bark that really steals the show. Christopher Amott’s solo after the second chorus is a thing of blurred-fingered beauty. And not to be outdone, Michael delivers a similarly jaw-dropping one soon after. It’s all a bit sickening, to be honest.
Arguably the most Carcass-like song in the Arch Enemy repertoire, this really showcases Michael Amott’s death metal influences, with plenty of quintessential Swedish grit ‘n’ grime and an irresistibly brutish and grotesque vibe holding the vicious riffs together. Daniel Erlandsson’s drums sound immense on this one, particularly as they re-emerge after a brief burst of feedback two minutes in. So much heavier than the original version (from ‘Stigmata’) that it’s not even funny.
The catchiest track on the album, this belter from ‘Burning Bridges’ has always worked incredibly well live, and you can hear how much the band enjoy playing it. The opening moments, replete with heroic-sounding lead melody, are as boisterous and life-affirming as it gets. Meanwhile, Gossow’s reading of Michael Amott’s lyrics, which tell the tale of a Christian missionary reflecting back on a life spent spreading the word and finding only doubt and disillusionment, is one of the most convincing performances she has ever committed to tape. And only an inveterate bell-end would be able to resist this song’s brilliantly Maiden-esque chorus. Genius.
Eighty seconds of grinding, claustrophobic doom riffing, this scabrous interlude from ‘Black Earth’ didn’t sound anywhere near this horrible first time round. It might just be one riff, repeated ad nauseam, but it’s a fucking awesome one. You can almost feel the demons snapping at your extremities. Yikes. And, splendidly, it still leads directly into…
…which is one of Arch Enemy’s most brutal tunes of all time. Fast, furious and unrelenting, this has an electrifying Slayer-ish vibe in the fast bits and a strong whiff of Sabbath elsewhere. Sudden changes of tempo and rhythm, plus lashings of inspired soloing from both Amott brothers, equals an underrated classic from the band’s early days. Try saying the title five times really fast. Can’t be done.
If you really, really like metal – and quite why you’d be reading this if you don’t is anyone’s guess – then ‘Silverwing’ is one of those magical songs that contains pretty much everything you could possibly desire. The verses are a frenzy of thrashing kick drums and vitriolic screams from Ms Gossow, while the chorus is built around one of the most gloriously sugary and melodramatic melodies ever performed on a guitar. The whole thing exudes a dizzying air of triumph and punch-the-air positivity that is simply impossible to resist. “Fly on! Silverwing…Fly with me! Stay free! Silverwing!”…go on, admit it, you’re welling up already!
BRIDGE OF DESTINY
Bringing ‘The Root Of All Evil’ to a suitably iron-plated and infectious close, ‘Bridge Of Destiny’ is one of Arch Enemy’s grandest epics. Nearly eight minutes in length, it’s a towering collage of hulking riffs and electrifying hooks, strongly redolent of Carcass in places but also a fine example of how Arch Enemy’s sound was fully formed and utterly convincing from the very start. There’s not a world of difference between this and what the band were doing on ‘Rise Of The Tyrant’ and with such stunning levels of technical prowess and melodic oomph, it could hardly be anyone else. A formidable end to a thoroughly worthwhile journey back in death metal time.