Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions (Century Media Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Arch Enemy can’t do much else with their sound, except for a total dumbing-down of it, but the Amott’s are too smart (and self-aware) to do something like that. Khaos Legions reads like any one of the band’s previous studio albums, saddled with the usual preponderance of flashy leads, creamy melodies, and Angela Gossow’s she-devil bark. There’s not a weak link in the Arch Enemy chain, nor are there any weak spots evident here. Business as usual.

Lead single “Yesterday’s Dead and Gone” was an obvious choice, boasting one of Michael Amott’s trademark lead melodies, something that (by now) can be spotted a mile away. “Bloodstained Cross” reminds one of “Nemesis” (off 2005’s Doomsday Machine), while “Under Black Flags We March” has a nice pounding intro that segues nicely into a mid-tempo crusher.

Because there are no surprises here, the expected wanking sojourns taken on “City of the Dead” and melodic du jour of “Cruelty Without Beauty” (drummer Daniel Erlandsson once proves how underrated he is here) are easy cuts to nominate as standouts. Thankfully, the band is still toying with their death metal foundations, a trait that keeps songs like “Cult of Chaos” and the classic metal-tinged “Thorns In My Flesh” upright and interesting.

Not sure if this is better than 2007’s Rise of the Tyrant, but Khaos Legions topples the aforementioned Doomsday Machine and 2003’s Anthems of Rebellion. Like we said above – there’s not much to dislike here, and yeah, Arch Enemy is definitely at the point in their career where their albums are going to be more and more workmanlike, but that’s fine. Few bands in melodic death metal are this reliable anyway…

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