Full marks to these Swedish heavyweights for absorbing a female singer into their ranks to replace former, very male, singer Johan Liiva in 2001. Not expected to stand there in a wedding dress and warble sweetly like a songbird (see just about ever other female-led band in Europe), German Angela Gossow in fact goes for the jugular with a bestial growl.
However, when you throw "Anthems of Rebellion" into the CD player, female or not, her voice doesn't knock spots off any other mid-range growler out there, contrary to all the hype and expectation when she first joined.
Mike Amott is similarly a fantastic guitarist, but with all the albums he's released with ARCH ENEMY since departing CARCASS, you always leave an airing of one of them feeling that he's not really stretching himself. To that end, "Anthems…" still isn't quite what he and his band are realistically capable of.
Don't read us wrong — as trad metal comes back into vogue, it's still right up there as polished, riff-heavy albums go — take the Neolithic thrash stomp of opener "Silent Wars" or the "classic" SLAYER-esque metal-by-numbers of "Exist To Exit". But, the problem is everyone's now doing this sort of thing to a high standard, and a bit more invention and texture — besides the undeniably lush solo work and melodies on show — might just add a little extra something. Despite the fact that "Instinct" possesses a potentially horrific KORN-like riff, at least it's a break from the norm and, it has to be said, doesn't sound at all misplaced.
NEVERMORE have recently proved that metal needn't make the same old plays in 2003. So come on Mr. Amott — show us more moves.