Arch Enemy: Khaos Legions

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Arch Enemy: Khaos Legions
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Arch Enemy: Khaos Legions
Melodic Death Metal
Century Media Records
June 7th, 2011
Release length: 54:41
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Since the popularity of Anthems of Rebellion, Arch Enemy has been on the top of their game with album sales, and a steady force to be reckoned with in the Melodic Death Metal field. One of the main reasons to the band’s success, outside their driving, consistant sound, has easily been the appeal of female vocalist Angela Gossow, who has consistantly put out a solid vocal performance and shattering many preconceptions of females in Metal today. However, since Anthems of Rebellion, the group has basically been riding to coat tails of their anthem-based sound from back in 2003 with each album that followed. Khaos Legions, the eigth studio album from Arch Enemy, proves that they are still not quite done milking the same anthem approach they established three albums ago.

Khaos Legions kicks things off with an introductory track that has some chaotic ambient noises such as police sirens going off, then a spoken word narration explaining the existence of the “khaos legions” for a brief period of time before hammering into the lead single off the album, “Yesterday is Dead and Gone”. Of course, this song is basically just your typical Arch Enemy track, and perfectly sets up the rest of the album’s pattern of heavier, catchier music with some decent aggression and a furious vocal performance, leading into a much slower Heavy Metal inspired anthem performance for the chorus, with a guitar solo traditionally appearing by the second chorus. Basically Arch Enemy shows it’s fangs, then goes into a chorus that feels like a righteous purr, and this wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that it’s constant throughout the album. What’s worse is that the song shares some common traits with the song “Dead Eyes See No Future” to the point where you’ll expect to hear that chorus kick in subconsciously, though it’s not strong enough to say it’s the ssame song. The same goes for “Bloodstained Cross” with the heavier moments, making you wonder how much inspiration came from the track “Nemesis” towards this song. Again, heavier music throughout, except quicker this time compared to “Yesterday is Dead and Gone”, but with a slow anthem-like chorus, but this one has it’s own slightly unique sound with a more melancholic atmosphere to it. While the faster and heavier material sounds great, the slower chorus and second guitar solo feel rather forced into the mix.

Of course, there are some tracks on here that do manage to break apart the traditional slow anthem chorus, heavy everything else philosophy, but for the most part many of them still have an anthem-like chorus, or at least a build up similar to one, so there’s really no escaping it, but these non-patterned tracks do ultimately aid in creating some variety to the mix. “Under Black Flags we March” is one of the few tracks that simply don’t follow that pattern. The song is generally much slower, feeling more like a march towards a dark fate of some kind, not necessarily to your demise though. It’s an interesting song for it’s approach, which stays fluid from start to finish, though it’s not the most entertaining track off the album. It’s more dismal atmosphere, however, is one of it’s positive aspects considering much of this album’s more self-righteous feeling. “City of the Dead” also has a much darker vibe to the track, and “Cruelty Without Beauty” has a rather haunting start that actually gives way to the group’s most aggressive recording in ages and throws the sound back to the early days of Arch Enemy, before Angela’s time with the group. This is perhaps the most inspiring track of them all and shows the band is far from dead, especially with it’s chaorus that retains the aggressive nature, flat out Death Metal bridges with technical guitar work, and a fantastic haunting chorus with some simple keyboard work that adds a little hint of melody to the track. The only let down is the sudden Heavy Metal guitar solo that feels weak and more uplifting then it should be given the darker nature of the track. This is when things start to get ugly, but in a very good and welcomed way.

With the acknowledging of their earlier roots on “Cruelty Without Beauty”, the band essentially just goes a bit nuts and brings in more aggressive tracks then the previous chunk of the album, often leaving that uplifting vibe behind. “Cult of Chaos” displays this well through a nice mixture of varying speeds and atmospheres, ranging from fast and aggressive to slow and melancholic or depressing. This song has a guitar solo similar to all the others on the album, but it manages to work in creating a darker mood for the song then an uplifting one, and gives the song more of a Mad Max feeling of post-apocalyptic desolation each time it kicks in.

But, does this mean that aside a few songs that break the typical pattern, Khaos Legions is a bad, boring, or repetitive album? Well, yes and no in many ways. The constant patterned music does become boring after a while, and for those who were sick of it two albums ago won’t find that many redeeming qualities to the same pattern found here. But that’s not to say the album doesn’t have some enjoyable cuts to it. “Yesterday is Dead and Gone” isn’t the strongest track, and those tired of hearing songs from three or four albums ago will immediately be put off by it’s patterned approach that defines this release, but it best represents the band, and newcomers or devoted fans will enjoy the song regardless. “City of the Dead” also stands out nicely with it’s darker and more aggressive sound, even in the chorus, and the track in general just sounds more distant from the group’s previous recordings with a very catchy chorus. Of course you also have some of the more intense tracks later that seem to violate the pattern laid out throughout the release, like “Cruelty Without Beauty” and it’s stronger more Death Metal oriented performance. Of course the closing track “Secrets” pretty much closes out the album in the same manner “Yesterday is Dead and Gone” kicked the album off with, following the same pattern, though slightly altered with the introductory chords then hammering into a more aggressive approach, but still retaining that glorious anthem vibe to it.

Basically, Arch Enemy look to their roots for a few songs, but the number of times is pretty small. This could be a sign of a changing of the guard for the group, which would be a nice change of pace, but only time will tell. Outside that, it’s your typical modern Arch Enemy album full of anthems, uplifting vibes, and general “fuck you, this is me” attitude. It’s not bad, it’s not completely boring, though the pattern does become a bit too much at times though and can often feel repetitive of itself, as well as previous albums and their hit songs. It’s nothing different and if you happen to be a fan of the group of their more recent recordings, then you’ll still be a fan after this release. The music here is often catchy and well done with vocals that are top notch and show a nice range throughout the release. What we have here is just another Anthems of Rebellion spin off with some new ideas thrown in towards the end, but nothing really bad, just overly patterned to the point where it seems the band is becoming robotic with the music to the point where it just becomes boring after a while.

01. Khaos Overture – 1:30
02. Yesterday is Dead and Gone – 4:21
03. Bloodstained Cross – 4:48
04. Under Black Flags We March – 4:40
05. No Gods, No Masters – 4:14
06. City of the Dead – 4:30
07. Through the Eyes of a Raven – 5:09
08. Cruelty Without Beauty – 4:59
09. We Are a Godless Entity – 1:34
10. Cult of Chaos – 5:10
11. Thorns in my Flesh – 4:54
12. Turn to Dust – 0:38
13. Vengeance is Mine – 4:09
14. Secrets – 4:05
Overall Score: 7/10

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.