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Arch Enemy “Khaos Legions”

It’s been nearly four years since we have been graced with new original material from one of the melodic death metal greats, Arch Enemy. Now if you have been a fan of Arch Enemy, chances are you have not been too worried about their latest release, Khaos Legions. Maybe there was just a slight bit of concern, as it seemed there were many including me who found 2007’s Rise of the Tyrant  a bit lacking compared to past releases, but still enjoyable, even though they have never really changed their song structure formula. Arch Enemy is a band that does not seem to take many risks, but why should they? The last real risk they took was back in 2000 when they recruited Angela Gossow as their lead vocalist. People like myself have grown accustomed to their formula and continue to eat it up. While Khaos Legions is a listen you would expect from Arch Enemy, there is something extra about Khaos Legions that feels more raw, emotional, powerful, all around more aggressive, not to mention much more polished and well written than Rise of the Tyrant.

Opening with “Khaos Overture“, you are welcomed with the melodic twiddling guitar work of the Amott brothers, followed by a rolling snare, to lead you into a rather cliché ominous voice introducing you the Khaos Legions. The album’s first official single, “Yesterday is Dead and Gone“, comes in at track number two, and you would expect no less from Arch Enemy. A well played mixture of intense high-speed riffs, catchy melodic hooks, and as always an impressive guitar solo. The next song, “Bloodstaind Cross“, takes off in an extremely heavy and fast way for the intro and first verse. All I could picture was me involved in a very likely circle pit if I were to see this song performed live. Then the tempo takes a complete turn into a much more slow and melodic chorus, but overall the song itself is very well orchestrated. About halfway through Khaos Legions at track number seven, “Through the Eyes of a Raven“, is easily one of my favorite songs off the album. Opening to dark, brooding, heavy guitar work which then soars into one of the most powerful, intense, melodic riffs I’ve heard from Arch Enemy.

One of my other favorites, “Vengeance is Mine“, packs a punch with drumming thrash beats and some of the fastest guitars found on Khaos Legions. It is a pure head banger right into another well performed transition in the expected melodic chorus. There are so many sides to this studio album, if you do not pay attention you could get lost. Different variations of intricate guitar riffs to a soaring melodic climax, to just downright extremely heavy. With the drums there is plenty of steady mid-tempo work, and also according to Daniel Erlandsson himself, “This album has some of the fastest songs I’ve ever recorded”.

It’s good to know Angela Gossow takes good care of those pipes, because Gossow is still at her peak of vocal abilities. Emitting screams powerful as ever, the most vicious growls, and at times very low and guttural. Khaos Legions carries familiar topics such as death, betrayal, and standing up to fight for the greater good. Lyrics I probably will not have repeating in my head at work all day, but far better than most of the dribble out there nowadays. Just a taste, a snippet from “Through the Eyes of a Raven” which I did enjoy.

Broken bodies stiff from storms
Our spirits scarred to ice
The only witness left alive
The raven and its staring eyes

Taste the blood
Hear their cries
Horrifying genocide
We lost our paradise

Through the eyes of the raven
See the slaughter, your crimes
They will remember
And so shall I

Overall I was very impressed with Khaos Legions, and I can comfortably say it is easily their best release since Anthems of Rebellion, maybe even their best release to date. I am hoping that Arch Enemy can hold on to the fuel that gave them the fire for this album because they have clearly polished up just a little bit to make one hell of an album. If you are a fan of Arch Enemy, do yourself a favor and pick up Khaos Legions. If you are not a fan but have been on the fence, give it a try, you may be surprised as I was.

Track Listing:

  1. Khaos Overture
  2. Yesterday Is Dead and Gone
  3. Bloodstained Cross
  4. Under Black Flags We March
  5. No Gods, No Masters
  6. City of the Dead
  7. Through the Eyes of a Raven
  8. Cruelty Without Beauty
  9. We Are a Godless Entity
  10. Cult of Chaos
  11. Thorns in My Flesh
  12. Turn to Dust
  13. Vengeance Is Mine
  14. Secrets

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