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Burning Bridges - Arch Enemy

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    2 Reviews
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      20.03.2007 17:11
      Not Helpful



      old school arch enemy

      Burning bridges in the third album of arch enemy and there best up to yet.

      It features mike ammot who delivers some of his carcass style leads and his brother chris with his yngwie malmsteen style of playing. The music is akin to at the gates but mostly late style carcass but more melodic .

      The bassist out of mercyful fate also features on this album and delivers some serious punch. Fans of megadeth should also like this.


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      20.07.2006 18:47
      Very helpful



      Arch Enemy's third album (1999)

      Alongside In Flames’ Whoracle and Slaughter of the Soul by At the Gates, ‘Burning Bridges’ by Sweden’s Arch Enemy is one of the quintessential albums of the then-burgeoning melodic death metal genre. Melodic death consciously combines the brutality of traditional death metal with a more melodic edge, mainly achieved through the use of harmonious dual guitars inspired by heavy metal of the 1980s and with less focus on intensive percussion.

      Michael Amott formed Arch Enemy after the demise of English death metal pioneers Carcass in 1996, and each album furthered the direction he’d been pushing since 1990. Appearing on Burning Bridges are vocalist Johan Liiva, who would be replaced by a female singer after proving disappointing on tour, Sharlee D’Angelo on bass and Daniel Erlandsson, brother of Cradle of Filth’s drummer Adrian, on drums. To complete this weird travesty of the nuclear family, Michael’s dual guitar accomplice is his brother Christopher.

      Burning Bridges stands high above the increasing number of melodic death bands spawning in its wake, and still sounds distinctive despite the hordes of imitators. For a start, Liiva’s vocals don’t follow the basic, inaudible death metal growls of his contemporaries, but are more akin to guttural yells, if you can imagine such a thing. He cites the late Chuck Schuldiner from Florida’s legendary Death as a key influence. The aggression is more pronounced, and you can hear all the words he’s… um, ‘singing.’

      The drums are surprisingly powerful for melodic death, resisting the dilution that’s often caused by mixing in classic heavy metal elements. Combined with the vocals, these preserve the album’s brutal edge. The Amott brothers’ guitars act as a sort of Jekyll to this Hyde, delicate and slow. The only slight downside is that many of the solos and melodies end up sounding very much like the type of non-distinct ‘generic high-pitched rock guitar’ of TV shows, adverts and films. I don’t know whether this is due to the album’s production or not, and it certainly doesn’t detract from the effect the band are going for, but it does amuse me a great deal. These TV guitars are most prominent in tracks 4 to 6, with a bit of a taster in the extended solo of track 1.

      Just as death metal vocals shouldn’t deter prog rock fans from enjoying Opeth and the puppets shouldn’t put off sci-fi fans from watching Farscape, fans of heavy metal with an emphasis on melody may be pleasantly surprised by bands like Arch Enemy, even accounting for previous bad experiences with death metal. The vocals and drums are still there a little, keeping the faith, but the whole thing is greater than its parts, and the album’s pace never particularly fast, almost grinding to a halt in the final track.

      1. The Immortal
      2. Dead Inside
      3. Pilgrim
      4. Silverwing
      5. Demonic Science
      6. Seed of Hate
      7. Angelclaw
      8. Burning Bridges

      With the exception of the title track, the songs on Burning Bridges all follow a similar style: medium speed melodic death metal led by guitars which then solo a bit. There’s enough variation to keep things interesting for the most part, with ‘Dead Inside’ owing to In Flames’ early days, ‘Silverwing’ bordering on 80s hair metal, ‘Seed of Hate’ focusing on the otherwise neglected bass, and the power duo of ‘Demonic Science’ and ‘Angelclaw’ veering more towards thrash-style aggression with raspy vocals. Opener ‘The Immortal’ really sets the general tone of the album very well, getting straight into a powerful riff between the guitars and drums and featuring an extended and nicely evolved solo to lighten things up. There’s even something like an orchestra barely audible towards the end, possibly synthesised, foreshadowing the violins of the final track.

      For some reason, the even numbered songs on this album happen to be my particular favourites. This is probably due to their focus on harmony over brutality, ‘melodic’ over ‘death,’ Iron Maiden influence over Slayer. In fact, ‘Dead Inside’ features a pleasant high guitar section that briefly sounds suspiciously like Maiden’s early classic ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ though its primary riffs belong firmly in the genre that produced In Flames’ Subterranean E.P. ‘Seed of Hate’ sounds a lot like Iced Earth, seemingly taking hints from the Dark Saga and Something Wicked This Way Comes albums, but I can forgive it for its focus on bass lines. ‘Silverwing’ is the afore-mentioned ‘hair metal’ track, and is really where the TV guitars are at their full force, in the five or six distinct, impressive and immensely air-guitarable riffs and solos throughout the song. I dare you to resist! The drums are nice and upbeat for a change, making this song pleasantly fast but not daunting, and although death metal purists would potentially dislike this song for its obvious inspiration in 80s heavy metal, this only improves things for me. I really am a lost cause.

      ‘Pilgrim’ has one of those riffs you’re sure you’ve heard before, and is again generic metal fare, but was probably unavoidable. As is typical with metal, the lyrics attack the church and some of its members, but never really say anything negative about religion itself. This track is overshadowed by ‘Demonic Science’ which, although annoyingly repetitive and about twice as long as it should be, does the aggression thing pretty well. The Slayer influence is obvious, especially in the guitars squealing off at random tangents and the palm-muted riffs, but this makes the whole thing suitably hellish and fun. But still not too fast. The end of the song once again veers into prime time TV solo territory. ‘Angelclaw’ begins deceptively jolly and light before revealing that it’s actually an inferior copy of ‘Demonic Science,’ although it’s saved from pointlessness by some creative and subdued use of dual guitars.

      The album closes with the soothing ‘Burning Bridges,’ the band’s experiment with doom metal, the likes of which Amott would have been familiar with when he lived in England. The snail’s pace, violin accompaniment and slow, echoing drums make this sound like a My Dying Bride wannabe, but it’s still a pleasant song to unwind to. My only problem with this song lies in the vocals, which still go for the same grave-spitting ferocity as elsewhere in the album but sound a bit weak at such a slowed pace. Once they’re out of the way, the song simply plays out for a while until they can’t be bothered any more and the ‘record’ skids to a halt, using that very old sound effect cliché.

      Burning Bridges is a very cool album, Arch Enemy’s best, but there are bands out there playing similar music of a much higher quality. Amott’s work in Carcass elevated that band above the grinding riffs and sick lyrics of its early years to one of Britain’s most notable metal bands, but his ‘side project’ of sorts with Arch Enemy ceases to be creative at pretty much this point. For an album that strives to combine existing sounds and morph them into something entirely new and credible, the influence of specific bands (conscious or accidental) is a little too obvious in places, and they don’t all sit well together. The TV solos I’m so fond of may infuriate the purists, but I’m a sucker for nice guitars. The pace of this album may also not be quite up to the speed some people expect for death metal, but it all works perfectly. Another band that’s very big in Japan.

      This album repeats what At the Gates did with ‘Slaughter of the Soul,’ and neither band holds up to the work of In Flames during that period. Nevertheless, the vocals are good, the drums equally so, and the bass even gets a look in at track six. As for the guitars, I think I’ve already dealt with those in far greater detail than is strictly necessary. It’s something of a sad irony that Liiva’s bitter lyrics in the final song, in which he accuses someone of betrayal and back-stabbing, likely mirrored his thoughts when he was later kicked out of the band in 2001.


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