Arch Enemy’s new album, The Root of All Evil, confirms the band’s position as a fundamental pillar of the current metal scene. The album consists of re-recorded songs taken from the band’s first three albums, Black Earth (1996), Stigmata (1998) and Burning Bridges (1999), which feature the vocal styles of original singer Johan Liiva. Liiva was replaced by screamstress Angela Gossow in 2001 and Arch Enemy has since released five albums (Wages of Sin (2001), Anthems of Rebellion (2003), Doomsday Machine (2005), Rise of the Tyrant (2007) and The Root of All Evil (2009)), which have catapulted the band into the metal limelight. Puppet master, also guitarist and backing vocalist, Michael Amott has, once again, driven the production of a masterful record, which parades the band’s unique blend of thrash/melodic/death metal that comes spiced with a touch of ‘old-school’. The Root of All Evil was recorded at a few different locations in Sweden and was produced by Arch Enemy with Daniel Erlandsson and Rickard Bengtsson handling the engineering. Recognised record producer Andy Sneap (Killswitch Engage, Opeth, 36 Crazy Fists), who has worked with the band on previous albums, was once again responsible for mixing and mastering the record.
A majority of the songs on The Root of All Evil come from Burning Bridges (1999), which was released in the year that bassist Sharlee D’Angelo joined the band. Many of the songs on the album are pre-D’Angelo and the bassist has grabbed the opportunity to introduce some menacing bass lines that enhance the steel behind the band’s earlier sound. Naturally, the biggest difference in the songs is in the vocal presence of Angela Gossow. It is a true rarity for a woman to front a metal band that boasts the brutality inherent in Arch Enemy’s musical composition. And The Root of All Evil reminds listeners why Gossow was done proving her abilities three albums ago. Quite simply, she astounds. Her voice, so perfectly, answers to the metal demanded by the music. She is relentlessly aggressive and her consistency demands unyielding attention from listeners. The songs selected for the album contemplate the root of the world’s evil, which opening track, Beast of Man, suggests is humanity – also known as “the devil’s pawn”. Gossow channels the album’s message with the force of a tsunami and when the songstress belts out Diva Satanica, one cannot help but consider it a biographical metaphor for the singer herself:
Divine queen of evil
Sowing her seeds of hate
Mistress of pain
Diva satanica – Master of temptation
Medusa… abuser… both beast and beauty
Seducer… she’ll use you… bring you to your knees
The Root of All Evil is a must have for fans but is also a great starting point for new listeners as it provides insight into Arch Enemy’s earlier style, which has been reproduced with the talents of the band’s newer members and amalgamated with the abilities of the experienced masters of metal that have been with the band from the outset – it’s a great combination!