MetalBite Review by Adam on 3/31/2002
In 1996 Sweden was overflowing with enormous amounts of talent in extreme metal. Bands like In Flames
, Dark Tranquility
, and Soilwork
rose out of the ashes of the legendary act At The Gates
to form a fresh melodic metal sound. However, none groomed louder and heavier than Arch Enemy
. With their debut album Black Earth
, the band proved they had what it took to hang with Sweden’s elite. Raw in its production and completely ruthless in its attack, Black Earth
remains an underground classic in the melodic death metal genre.
As with every Arch Enemy
release, the musicianship is top notch. Daniel Erlandsson absolutely destroys his drum kit. Vocalist Johan Liiva, who also plays bass on the disc, screams with a massive amount of fury and intensity. Many people shun on Johan’s vocals, yet I believe that they match the music perfectly. The guitar work on the record is superb. Michael and Chris Amott grind on the axe with skill and power. A great example of their abilities lies in the solo of the song Cosmic Retribution
. The Latin influenced acoustic section is utterly breathtaking.
The record consists of two short instrumentals. One of them is electric and the other is acoustic. They are just small places to catch your breath amidst the brutality found elsewhere. Standout tracks include Bury Me An Angel
, the previously mentioned Cosmic Retribution
, and the final track Fields of Desolation
, which the band attempted to recreate three years later with bland results.
The production on Black Earth
is incredibly raw and brutal. Despite the primitive sound, this is still a Studio Fredman production. It seems everything that maniac Fredrick touches turns into pure metal gold and this is no exception. Every instrument comes out unbelievably heavy, yet it is very easy to take in and digest. The guitar and drum sounds are amazing, and the vocals are not as loud as they are on the vocally controversial Stigmata
Looking back, it is obvious why this cd continues to remain a fan favorite. It still manages to hold its own against pretty much any release coming out nowadays. Its perfect blend of brutality and melody has been something many bands have been trying to accomplish for years, but never been able to truly succeed at. The only thing I dislike about this record is that it is a little too short, but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. I would recommend this to all melodic death metal fans and fans of the band especially. No Arch Enemy
fan can be without Black Earth
This is a classic debut from a great heavy metal band. Do yourself a favor and pick this up immediately.
Categorical Rating Breakdown:
out of 10