Black Earth SwedenCountry Of Origin: Sweden
Arch Enemy - Black Earth

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Bury Me An Angel
Dark Insanity
Cosmic Retribution
Transmigration Macabre
Time Capsule
Fields Of Desolation
Losing Faith (Bonus Track)
The Ides Of March (Bonus Track)

Type: Full-Length
Release Date: 1996
Label: Wrong Again Records
Categories: Death, Melodic

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 record.

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.

Bottom Line: This is a classic debut from a great heavy metal band. Do yourself a favor and pick this up immediately.

Categorical Rating Breakdown:

Originality: 9
Musicianship: 9
Atmosphere: 10
Production: 8
Overall: 9

Rating: 9 out of 10