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Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges

1999 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-06-30

It was only a few years ago that Black Earth became one of the most sought after indie albums of all time, it seems. Intelligently using the old supply and demand law, Wrong Again Records only released a paltry amount of this platter, forcing most people to import and pay high prices in many areas of the world. It was a secret that wouldn't last long, with Century Media "discovering" this band of musical geniuses and giving them a deal. The result of this initial union was Stigmata, a highly technical affair which pleased many young guitar virtuosos, but was a trifle disappointing for those of us who had experienced the power of the debut. Talking to Michael Amott provided some illumination into that recording, and I think that it's definitely safe to say that Burning Bridges rectifies any weaknesses in the AE armor. While not as all out brutal as BE, or as technically driven as Stigmata, a happy medium is realized, uncomprising, yet as wise and experienced as it should be. I'd place a lot of the refocusing of the group back on drummer Daniel Erlandsson, a gifted individual who helps define what metal drumming is. His powerful base allows the brothers Amott freedom to explore, yet reminds them when it's time to come home from arpeggio heaven, if you know what I mean . In heralding the rhythm section, one has to also mention bass wunderkind Sharlee D'Angelo, who is also responsible for this solidity. Now, there are some true moments of stadium rock here, where the solos are the spotlight, and I almost hear flashes of Rush or Cheap Trick! It's not as apparent as on Stigmata though, and Liiva's vocals are once again strong (apparently he was sick while tracking the last album), a good thing as his work helped define what I consider the Arch Enemy sound. He experiments a bit as well (if that is indeed him, promo discs don't have the full credits listed), a welcome change, not as outlandish as before. You may have noticed so far that I've hardly mentioned the Amott's playing, an interesting fact as Arch Enemy is truly a guitar band! Well, what needs to be said, besides the fact that the elder Amott is responsible for penning some of the greatest songs in death metal history. Chris may be the young one, but his playing shows plenty of flair, knowledge and excitement as well. I, for one, am glad to see the boys back in form after their "sophomore slump", and can easily peg Burning Bridges as one of my favorite releases of the year so far.