Straight off the bat, let it be said that intentionally misspelling words with perceived ‘more metal’ letters such as K, X and V is an abomination that should see you laughed out of town. Furthermore, Arch Enemy should be laughed out of town for their general conduct over the last few years, but who knows, maybe
Khaos Chaos Legions, their 8th studio album, will be a watershed moment that redeems them…
Yesterday Is Dead And Gone follows an overlong introduction and hackneyed spoken word intro and is ostensibly intended to be a musical call to arms for their loyal, dribbling fan base. However, rather than being some sort of fist-pumping monolithic death metal anthem, manages only to inspire me to drop my jaw in disbelief at how incredibly lame this sounds. The guitars are about as lethal as a sharpened sponge – alternating between the sound of a £20 death metal pedal being run through the distortion channel of a 10 Watt practice amp and that of Rick Wakeman’s keyboard circa 1973. Add to that the incredible musical drag factor of Angela Gossow’s tired, croaky, one-dimensional rasping vocals and place them cumbersomely over a chorus so incredibly lightweight that it sounds like an excerpt from a particularly airy Journey B-side – only immeasurably shit – and you are getting a picture of what this abortion sounds like.
Bloodstained Cross at least comes out of the traps at speed – albeit riding on a riff as well worn as Joey DiMaio’s first set of leather y-fronts – but it is unfortunately saddled with another horrendous slow ‘sing-along’ chorus. Now, when the vocals sound like someone sifting through cuttings of possessed girl-child audio track from The Exorcist, it’s pretty hard to do anything but cringe at the mismatch here, let alone join in. Not that there’s anything wrong with horrible vocals, I mean I enjoy Demilich and flinch at an ill-concieved singing chorus as much as the next man, but when you are clearly attempting to pitch your music in with Bon Jovi as Arch Enemy now are, having a little vocal dynamism would be desirable. …Yes we know you are a woman and you’re doing harsh vocals. Well done. Now fuck off… It’s indescribably horrible and, just when you think that it can’t get any worse; there is some sort of neo-classical guitar interlude, which sounds a bit like Jason Becker… If you were to put a guitar in his hands today and record the results. I endure the chorus one more time and it’s over. Praise Allah.
Under Black Flags We March is a real rabble-rouser of a marching anthem. In fact, such is its power that it was used by the Japanese in Burma to make forced marches and railway buildings even more horrific and unbearable for their British prisoners of war. No Gods, No Masters is so bad that I had to actually find someone to ask for help to ensure I hadn’t been rape-drugged by an Albanian organ harvester and that my hearing this song wasn’t some sort of coping mechanism devised by my subconscious mind to try and compartmentalise the horror as he plucked the kidneys from my twitching torso. Despite reassurance to the contrary, I conclude that it must indeed have been a figment of my warped imagination, as no real band would have used “I am who I am, take it or leave it…” as a lyrical hook unless they were putting together an act for the monthly ‘Musical Theatre and Barbara Streisand appreciation night’ down the local confirmed bachelor club.
Cruelty Without Beauty incorporates some blastbeats into the mix, the first indicator that I am listening to a ‘death metal’ band, though this is again laden with more mainstream flavourings than any stream on the planet can conceivably handle without completely choking the local ecosystem. I will have to be careful here though, as, not wanting to give the impression of praise, the solo trade off at the end of the song could be described as ‘acceptable’. Cult Of Chaos, while correctly spelt, is similar, minus all the aforementioned redeeming features, and it has the incredible misfortune that when the blastbeats depart, it turns into a fully-fledged Hatebreed number. Honestly, 90% of the music here should have been dragged to a Zurich euthanasia clinic and been given a humane, clinical paving stone to the face.
Thorns In My Flesh sounds like a pretty tasty thrasher for the first minute or so, and, just as I tentatively begin to *gasp* enjoy it, the next pile of elephant period blobs out of the speakers in the form of another horrible, slow wah-wah pedal lead line accompanying a terrible melodic section. There must be some sort of law against this tedious bollocks… There are 2 more tracks on this album, but seeing as they’ve all been EXACTLY THE SAME SHIT up to now, I’m not going to waste your time by talking you through them. Just swap the track name for one of the other write-ups. Seriously, if Arch Enemy aren’t going to put any effort into writing the music then I’m fucked if I’m going to bother talking about it when I can just type shitcuntbollockswankturdinapittabreadfortea and have done with it.
I feel drained. This album has taken years off my life, sucked my very will to live and roughly fisted my soul, such was the vein-straining rage that it provoked within. If you must check this album out, be aware that while it is without doubt one of the most unintentionally hilarious attempts to incorporate a variety of influences and melodic passages into metal in history, it may very well consume your soul. A bit like going into a Scientology centre and doing some tests ‘for a laugh’ then finding Tom Cruise balls deep in your confused anus 20 minutes later. If you like music, steer clear. If you like the sights, sounds and smells of shit being squirted directly into your ears (or you like this t-shirt), then this is the album for you.