by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Arch Enemy - Anthems Of Rebellion
(Century Media)

When you hear Angela saying things like "this album is more aggressive" and "this album contains more groove" in the space of a couple minutes, you pretty much gather than Arch Enemy is going to give you the same record again, one that is neither of the above and both at once; in other words, don't even listen to her; she has nothing to say, really. What Arch Enemy have delivered is basically more of their patented peerless technical thrash, the Amotts churning out riffs that sound like conservative, old school Soilwork Haunted and Nevermore (and thrashy Annihilator or Eidolon!), but with a meticulousness and a metal knowledge that make them the best at this game. Producer Andy Sneap has dealt the band his expected and cloistered cold steel sheen, tracks like Leader Of The Rats, Silent Wars and End Of The Line using the scientific approach to unbelievably formidable advantage. Angela's vocals are hilarious, her caw sounding egregiously venomous, single-minded and sure, as the boys batter and batter up each track around her. In any event, now with a rock solid, no duds, pre-Angela catalogue, and two similar relentless albums with her, Arch Enemy have become a sort of anchor between the old bands and the new, a mean to measure against, a fulcrum, ambassadors, the keeper of the riffs.
Rating 8.5

Evergrey - Recreation Day

It's funny. It's hard for me to break through the mystique of Evergrey (to which I subscribe) into the realm of making this the important soundtrack to life which many respected critic buds and fan friends seem to have done. Two things stop me from shaking the fecund tree that is any given Everygrey album and scooping up the fruit. With respect to Recreation Day specifically, I'm not crazy about the squeaky clean, tight as a drum production, the (over) multiple layers of sound, nor do I care for the old school Children Of Bodom keyboards and synths. But past that, well, the things Tom does with his impassioned though growly vocals are pretty cool, and not only that, they're serious, within a realm that is hard to take serious: power metal. Yes, you may quibble and say no, this is progressive metal through and through, but Recreation Day rides than line too closely. But then again, ushering the near impenetrable album away from both realms is the fact that Englund routinely, regularly, often comes up with melodies that either tug at the heartstrings with thespian melodrama or cast a doom pall over a music you thought you had pinned. The end result is a multi-dimensional record thick with musical events that, for some reason, I won't be putting in the hours necessary to master and make automatic, the process that is necessary for fortuitous, productive communication between chunk of art and consumer thereof.
Rating 7.5

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