ARCH ENEMY has never been a consistent band. After acquiring Angela Gossow for vocals, their output has generally been good, but certainly varied. It’s varied to the point that fans tend to battle it out over different albums like children with a ball on the playground. This is what will make “Khaos Legions” such a love it or hate it kind of album. Not that it’s one way or the other, but that it contains all ways.
Despite a rather ridiculous album title, “Khaos Legions” sports a whole lot of faces that ARCH ENEMY has worn. Some of the tracks are complex and aggressive with great guitar chemistry and energetic blast drumming like the initial single “Yesterday Is Dead And Gone." Some of the tracks sport a definite modern and distorted quality like “No Gods, No Masters” that will liken fans to remember music from their “Anthems Of Rebellion” period. This kind of variety is certain to create a stir amongst their fans, but the fact that they have not forgotten their past is fairly respectable.
This roller coaster ride of different sounds and styles will play to everyone at one point or another with something to love for all of their fans, but, to its fault, it also makes a rather hit or miss album. “Rise Of The Tyrant” was a no-skip kind of release, whereas I found myself skipping through some of the lesser tracks within a couple of spins. Not necessarily a great sign as there is definite filler that bogs this record down.
Also the band seems to be in some sort of a ‘can’t hold it’ mentality here. For the talented players involved in this band (including the more than impressive guitar chemistry between the brothers Amott who can riff and trade off their melodic wails into acoustics and back with shaming ease), the songs tend to be just as all over the map as the album is as a whole. Songs dive bomb in and out of a thousand different tempos, riffs, distortions, with only Gossow being consistent in her voracious growling and screams (although sometimes the layering of vocals muddles it a bit). The band has always loved to write winding songs with a flow to the Melodic Death Metal style, but “Khaos Legions” lacks the flow found on many of their previous works. The shifts are sudden and jarring and not quite as natural as they have been before.
“Khaos Legions” has a lot to love about it with its varied sounds and varied attack of ARCH ENEMY musical prowess, but its lack of cohesion and inconsistencies also make it one of their less impactful albums. A good album with some tracks that are instant to love, but not quite up to the caliber for such a fantastic band as a whole.
Songs to check out: “Yesterday Is Dead And Gone," “Through The Eyes Of The Raven," “Cult Of Chaos."
(Online August 4, 2011)