Dennis : The wait is over, finally Arch Enemy's best record to date will also be released in Europe and the US. Last year April it was already released in Japan and because of some delays from the record company's side "Wages of Sin” will hit the European and US stores not earlier than March 18, 2002! Anyway, thanks to my neighbour who ordered the CD over the internet last year, we were already able to enjoy the madness called "Wages of Sin” a little earlier. And because of this, "Wages of Sin” already ended up ranking first on my personal playlist of 2001 and I am afraid there's not going to be another record overclassing this one this year either. Chances are high that "Wages of Sin” European edition (with eight bonus tracks, 2 videos and a 20-page colour booklet) will rank first in 2002 as well!!
"Wages of Sin” was recorded end of 2000 at the Fredman Studios with co-producer Fredrik Nordström and Michael Amott in charge of the production and mixed in early 2001 with Andy Sneap at Backstage Studios in the UK. If you've heard Andy's work with albums such as Nevermore's "Dead Heart In A Dead World” and Testament's killer album "The Gathering” then I think you will believe me immediately when I say the sound is incredibly powerful. "Wages of Sin” is by far Arch Enemy's heaviest sounding album!
All 11 regular songs are of great quality. Opener "Enemy Within” is quite a complex, yet very catchy song, using different tempos and a number of cool riffs. The short piano intro sets in a powerful leading part for the machine gun drumming, which is shortly after followed by powermetal guitars. What immediately strikes me is the stunning guitar-riffing of the Amott brothers, it's simply superb!! Whereas most bands open their albums with the best song of the whole CD, Arch Enemy takes the level even one step up. "Burning Angel” contains an even catchier guitar-riff which invites the listener to sing along with the melody! Once you have this melody in your head it simply doesn't want to go away anymore. With "Heart Of Darkness” Arch Enemy shift one gear back, giving the listener some time to take a deep breath before "Ravenous” punches you in the face again. And it continues…. Not a moment is my attention drawn from this album!! Another highlight of "Wages of Sin” is the last "regular” track "Shadows and Dust”. It opens with a great opening riff, which is very melodic and repeats a number of times throughout the song. The female vocals by Angela Gossow are a remarkable performance. If one wouldn't know she was a woman, one would almost not even notice it. A big improvement compared to the barking vocals of former singer Johan Liiva. I always thought this guy was the weakest link in Arch Enemy; his stage performing wasn't the strongest and his vocals merely average. However this was always backed up by the excellent musicianship of his fellow bandmembers and most people took it for granted. Taking Angela Gossow in the band is a great step ahead for Arch Enemy.
Even thought the European/American version of "Wages Of Sin” is being released almost a year later than in Japan, it does has a lot more to offer than the Japanese version however. And it is only fair that the European fans finally can get a hold of all the bonustracks which have long been released in the Far East. Next to two videos ("Ravenous” and "The Immortal”) the double CD further features coverversions of Judas Priest and Europe ("Starbreaker” and "Scream of Anger” respectively), bonustracks from the Japanes versions of the previous three albums "Black Earth”, "Stigmata”, and "Burning Bridges” and previously unreleased tracks. This is the complete Arch Enemy product, can it get any better!? I am giving this CD a 99, hoping that the next Arch Enemy CD will be just as good as this one, and maybe even a little better so I can give em the full 100% score! This band will be huge….