“Real” heavy metal has been witnessing a resurgence of late. Depending on your opinion of galloping drums, double bass-pedalling, hair-shaking guitar riffs, screeching solos and crazed vocals, this is either a long overdue return to the tenets of extreme music circa 1990, else a sobering reflection of philosopher George Santayana’s famous warning that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
With this in mind, the latest EP from Sweden’s Arch Enemy is only likely to appeal to the already converted. The title track, taken from last year’s Wages Of Sin album, is a well-executed thrash metal number with all the requisite elements in place, as well as an open section with military snare drums, strings and a reflective guitar solo, which demonstrates a pleasing multi-dimensionality.
The yay or nay decision for a listener, however, may well come down to Angela Gossow’s vocals. She may be one of the few female vocalists in metal, but her lacerated, vitriol-swigging death grunt is genderless, primeval and to be honest, downright disturbing, especially when you hear what it’s done to her speaking voice in between the three live tracks on offer here.
Gossow’s insistence on growling does Arch Enemy’s cover of Megadeth‘s Symphony Of Destruction no favours whatsoever, although it is well-suited to their intense, turbocharged version of Kill With Power, originally by the unintentionally cartoon Manowar.
The final track is a cover of Incarnated Solvent Abuse, a 1991 track by guitarist Michael Amott’s previous band – the seminal Carcass. Ironically, with its monstrously heavy groove, this is probably the best track on the EP, which is proof, if ever you needed it, that reinventing the wheel often simply leads to going round in circles.