The Root Of All Evil review by Arch Enemy

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  • Released: Sep 28, 2009
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (39 votes)
Arch Enemy: The Root Of All Evil
3

Sound — 9
In what is a rather smart (and somewhat intriguing) move on the part of Arch Enemy, the Swedish melodic metal outfit has re-recorded tracks from its first three releases, which are compiled on a new CD titled The Root Of All Evil. The previous CDs (Black Earth, Stigmata, Burning Bridges) all featured then-vocalist Johan Liiva, so it's certainly understandable why the band wanted to allow the always-surprising Angela Gossow to take a stab at their past hits. There are distinct differences between the vocal approach of Liiva and Gossow although nothing too terribly dramatic and those unique qualities inject new life to newly recorded versions. What even stands out more than Gossow's presence is the general recording quality, which is leaps and bounds better than what you hear on the originals. For every band that has ever replaced a frontman/frontwoman, it's always a bit of chore convincing the audience that the replacement singer now owns the older songs. It should also be mentioned that bassist Sharlee D'Angelo was not a member during this time period, either. Rather than go through that nonsense anymore, Arch Enemy'a latest CD at long last gives Gossow full reign over many songs on the first three albums. With the 13 tracks on The Root Of All Evil (11 of them featuring vocal content), you get an interesting mix of nostalgia and fresh creativity. What remains the same is the solid musicianship, which was already in place. Among the highlights are Dead Inside, which begins with a somewhat steady tempo and eventually goes in a variety of musical directions. At the heart is the guitar work of Michael and Christopher Amott, who always are top-notch in terms of skill. When you hear the latest version of the song, however, you notice little nuances like increased dual guitar work and a more polished sound altogether. The guitar team obviously made some new choices in their equipment, as it sounds impeccable now. Another key standout track is Bury Me An Angel, (originally from the Black Earth record), which now takes on a crisper, more defined sound within the rhythm section. If you haven't looked into Arch Enemy's work until now, The Root Of All Evil should be a vital part of your collection. The CD is jam-packed with meaty riffs that range from being standard death metal rhythms to licks that would make Yngwie Malmsteen pleased. The track that sums up that statement perfectly is Demonic Science. It masterfully takes unlike/clashing musical styles and somehow makes them cohesive. There is, of course, a higher-pitched sound to Gossow's growls and screams in comparison to Liiva, but her delivery is still quite effective.

Lyrics — 8
The lyrical content is on the more dramatic side, but it works well with the genre. In terms of subject matter, you'll hear about everything from dangerous, conniving females in Diva Satanica (Divine queen of evil; Sowing her seeds of hate; Mistress of pain) to spiritual answers in Pilgrim (From the womb, to the tomb; An eternal struggle for the holy truth; We are not the first, nor shall we be the last). Granted, you won't be able to understand a good deal due to Gossow's gruff delivery, but the songs are still fairly well thought-out in terms of the structure.

Overall Impression — 10
Arch Enemy proves just how much they've grown musically with the release of The Root Of All Evil. While the songs from the band's first three releases were solid in the beginning, the newest recordings are impressive on even more levels. Gossow is a welcome addition, but it's not necessarily her presence that took the album to the next level. However, she certainly adds a distinctly fresh vocal sound that works well with all of the changes that were made during the recording process.

31 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The JesterHead
    Wages of Sin was the best Angela album and since then the band have been on a slow boring decline musically but that's o.k.
    Totally agreed.
    shredtildeath
    The JesterHead wrote: Liiva>Angela anyday.
    Definitely. His voice is awesome and unique, and while Angela's is good it's nothing too special. The only reason people think she's so special is cause she's a girl, because other death metal vocalists like Mikael Akerfeldt and Dave Vincent are superior by far.
    Sparky-MMA
    Ive bought it and in fairness its actually AMAZING she sounds doo much better than Johan, no offence to the guy i just thought his voice was a bit weak for arch enemy
    metal warrior
    Sounds like a cash in to me. Lets prove to all Arch Enemy fans that the only thing that sells is a female vocalist. The one aspect of the band that really set them apart from Carcass (Michael's previous band mates) was vocal style. And now in typical modern metal fashion, its re-record and do it again. Angela to me was always a good vocalist but a pale version of Jeff Walker. Johan Liiva brought something different to Arch Enemy and something which helped define their sound. Wages of Sin was the best Angela album and since then the band have been on a slow boring decline musically but that's o.k. because Angela's hot (female, depends on your taste really) and that sells (I bet that's what many people here think really).
    The JesterHead wrote: XoP wrote: The JesterHead wrote: Gregray88 wrote: I have no idea how you can stand Liiva. He has no emotion and not to mention he is monotoned and CANT sing. No emotion? Seriously man, this comment makes me think you never even listened to any of the first few albums... Liiva might not me a "mega-growler", he's more of a, as someone already said, "tortured man", and he could express any emotion better on a bad day than Angela does on a good day. I mean I like Angela, she's hot, she can put up a show... But nothing more. why the hell would anyone want to listen to a "tortured man" on an album? I'd rather hear someone who can put out power on their own [Angela], rather than hearing someone "being tortued" just to sound like that [Liiva]. I didn't literally mean "tortured man", it's just a way of describing his vocals, and they're not all like that, let's be reasonable. Liiva just has the charisma Angela can only dream of having. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of what Arch Enemy made with Angela, she's actually pretty good in what she does. And Liiva sounds the way he does simply because it's his style, and sorry but I like it way better than Angela's overproduced and overlayered studio vocals.
    Overproduced and overlayered. Well said.
    ChildofBelial
    Why do I keep reading about it being so hard to understand Angela? I can understand almost every word in ever song. I've been listening to Arch Enemy for 6 years and I've never had a problem understanding her. In fact, I have a harder time understanding Chris Cornhole and the lead singer of Pearl Jam than I do with Angela. Maybe I was just born to listen to metal.
    The JesterHead
    XoP wrote: The JesterHead wrote: Gregray88 wrote: I have no idea how you can stand Liiva. He has no emotion and not to mention he is monotoned and CANT sing. No emotion? Seriously man, this comment makes me think you never even listened to any of the first few albums... Liiva might not me a "mega-growler", he's more of a, as someone already said, "tortured man", and he could express any emotion better on a bad day than Angela does on a good day. I mean I like Angela, she's hot, she can put up a show... But nothing more. why the hell would anyone want to listen to a "tortured man" on an album? I'd rather hear someone who can put out power on their own [Angela], rather than hearing someone "being tortued" just to sound like that [Liiva].
    I didn't literally mean "tortured man", it's just a way of describing his vocals, and they're not all like that, let's be reasonable. Liiva just has the charisma Angela can only dream of having. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of what Arch Enemy made with Angela, she's actually pretty good in what she does. And Liiva sounds the way he does simply because it's his style, and sorry but I like it way better than Angela's overproduced and overlayered studio vocals.
    XoP
    The JesterHead wrote: Gregray88 wrote: I have no idea how you can stand Liiva. He has no emotion and not to mention he is monotoned and CANT sing. No emotion? Seriously man, this comment makes me think you never even listened to any of the first few albums... Liiva might not me a "mega-growler", he's more of a, as someone already said, "tortured man", and he could express any emotion better on a bad day than Angela does on a good day. I mean I like Angela, she's hot, she can put up a show... But nothing more.
    why the hell would anyone want to listen to a "tortured man" on an album? I'd rather hear someone who can put out power on their own [Angela], rather than hearing someone "being tortued" just to sound like that [Liiva].
    The JesterHead
    Gregray88 wrote: I have no idea how you can stand Liiva. He has no emotion and not to mention he is monotoned and CANT sing.
    No emotion? Seriously man, this comment makes me think you never even listened to any of the first few albums... Liiva might not me a "mega-growler", he's more of a, as someone already said, "tortured man", and he could express any emotion better on a bad day than Angela does on a good day. I mean I like Angela, she's hot, she can put up a show... But nothing more.
    Rengori
    I got nothing against Angela's vocals, but the new tuning and guitar mix with the lead guitar as low as it was didn't help either. Just listen to The Immortal, all the melodies on the higher notes just fade into the mix more. Angela did a decent job.
    ChrissyChiChi
    I was really looking forward to this and was a little dissapointed. Though I have always much much prefered Johan to Angela (as has previously been stated she is ok but really nothing special..slightly below average death metal vocals, the only reason people talk about her so much is because she is female). The old songs I think sounded better in the old tuning and im not so keen on the overal sound, its not that I do not like crisply produced albums but something sounds really wrong to me with some of the songs...Bury me an Angel in particular does not come off so well and it is probably my favourite arch enemy song. On the plus side the lead work is as you would expect fantastic! I could listen to Chris noodle away all day.
    lowtek
    johan just fit their old sound perfectly, and that was the arch enemy that caught my ears. the new material is a bit too polished for me, but i won't put it down because the musicianship is top-notch and the songs are still catchy and heavy at the same time, like they always were. by the way, yes the original "demonic science" is a gem! have not heard the new one yet.
    ibanez91065
    maj.pain wrote: man angela need to sing like she did on the doomsday machine album that was good. revoultion begins and this cd she just sucks i cant stand to listen to it.
    totally agree man, couldnt stand the sound of rise of the tyrant, even the guitar i didnt like as much imo, doomsday was great, smooth vocals, but a little to overproduced on vocal effects, wages of sin i think was their best
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    Gregray88 wrote: I have no idea how you can stand Liiva. He has no emotion and not to mention he is monotoned and CANT sing.
    he sounds like a tortured man. to me, it seemed very fitting with those old arch enemy songs.
    Gregray88
    I have no idea how you can stand Liiva. He has no emotion and not to mention he is monotoned and CANT sing.
    Kreuger
    They totally ruined Demonic Science (which is my absolute favourite. Just listen to the melodies in the ending) as well as pretty much the rest of these old songs. At least musically. I can appreciate why they did this but they should not have changed the songs the way they did. At least as already stated the sound is more polished but I never really had a problem with it to begin with.
    reignofrock
    I don't consider it a "new" record really. If this is going to be considered that, then when are we going to see actual new material?
    maj.pain
    man angela need to sing like she did on the doomsday machine album that was good. revoultion begins and this cd she just sucks i cant stand to listen to it.
    Duke von Rock
    thank god... i couldnt stand liiva... his finest moment was the track stigmata, not the album
    Raven_Flight
    IDK, I used to listen to the old version of the songs, so I can't stand the new tuning and stuff like that. But I guess besides that they did a good job on quality and Angela did ok on most songs, except Silverwing for example... they butchered that one IMO.
    Gregray88
    baspvn wrote: they should play demonic science its so underrated
    That song is on there. Idn, I would rather them release new stuff.
    Gregray88
    baspvn wrote: they should play demonic science its so underrated
    That song is on there Idn, its alright but I would rather them release new stuff.
    Skuzzmo
    I watched them recently and Gossow is amazing...as a rule I don't like the gruff/growl vocal thing but she really is a quality vocalist(?) and front woman...and for that reason I'm gonna check this new release out. Thank you and good night.