Never has a press release read so true as to state that the sixth studio album by Swedish metallers Arch Enemy is “brilliantly produced by Rickard Bengtsson”. That it most certainly is, managing to hold bags of destructive energy and potency while still providing a level of clarity to each instrument that is simply unrivalled in aggressive music.
Doomsday Machine makes for such awesome listening primarily because of the near perfect synergy between the instrumentation and production, the latter complimenting the work of each band member so significantly that the deadly combo of Bengtsson and mix-master Andy Sneap could well become metal’s hottest studio commodity.
Opening number Enter The Machine is a prime example of metal at its very, very best. As simplistic and primal in its structure as Korn‘s Blind, yet with as much presence as the orchestrated ballads of Nightwish, this instrumental is simply breathtaking.
It feeds seamlessly into Taking Back My Soul, which continues the assault on the senses. Anyone who is unaccustomed to Angela Gossow’s vocal talents should be prepared to get a barbarously vicious introduction, while Daniel Erlandsson steers the quintet with shocking precision behind a drum kit that is subject to more abuse in the space of four minutes than most get in years.
Nemesis seems intent on picking up the pace even further and, as the screams of Death’s horse bleed from the speakers, the soundtrack to Armageddon has never sounded so accurate. Then the unexpected – a stripped back chorus and bridge provide the backing for a crowd-stirring musketeers moment: “All for one. One for all. We are strong!” Not wanting to be misunderstood however, My Apocalypse soon sets things straight with a battering discordant war cry courtesy of Ms Gossow – officially the most frightening woman on the planet.
Arch Enemy set themselves apart from so many mediocre Death Metal acts by never letting their songs stagnate. The constant evolution of crunching riff and epic stadium snare hits is suddenly replaced by swaying melodic lead lines which then descend into double kick driven blasts of aggression.
I Am Legend/Out For Blood contains all of the aforementioned, while Michael Arnott’s Eastern-fuelled guitar work will force a tear to many a budding axe-man’s eye. With little time to recover, the subsequent solo work on Skeleton Dance will push the saline streams into full flow, and you would be forgiven for thinking – should you be hard enough to endure the remainder of Doomsday Machine – that the band should have set up a helpline for all desperately depressed amateurs who are on the brink of giving up their instruments altogether.
In summary, it appears that Arch Enemy were not content with the current standard for Death Metal set for the world by fellow Scandinavians such as Opeth, and in response they have created one of the most revolutionary-sounding albums since Pantera took heavy music to a new level on A Vulgar Display Of Power.