1996, Regain Records
Arch Enemy, "Black Earth"
Finally! Arch Enemyís classic debut album, Black Earth, is available domestically in the US for the first time. This new version features 3 bonus tracks including two Iron Maiden covers and a video, but is otherwise the same as you remembered it since the label opted not to remix or remaster the album. Thatís not such a big deal though since the Frederik Nordstrom production sounded massive when it came out back in 1996 and has held up quite well over the years.
For those not in the know, Arch Enemy is the band Michael Amott started - with his brother Christopher - after he left Carcass. This being their debut, the band was trying to distance themselves from Carcass, although there are obvious similarities between the two bands. Arch Enemy, however, incorporated a leaner, thrashier sound that helped to define the early melodic death metal sound. They hadnít quite hit their stride just yet like they did on the next record, Stigmata, but there is still a lot to love about this disc. This also features original vocalist Johan Liiva who, despite being a little one-dimentsional, performs much better than Angelaís over-processed roar.
For an album over a decade old, Black Earth holds up incredibly well. It brings me back to the times before the tech-metal arms race and the age of triggering and digital editing; back when a band had to make it with songwriting skills, musicianship, and a unique sound. Obviously, the style undergone some changes over the years and has been done over and over again, but this album still sounds remarkably fresh. This is a must-have for anyone interested in the evolution of death metal, particularly the melodic variety.
Bury Me An Angel