Arch Enemy - Stigmata (Century Media Records) - Back
B-Tuned guitars, hoarse vocals by Johan Liiva (ex-member) and pounding drums on almost all of the tracks on here. This CD is Melodic Death at its best by far. The riffs are melodic but heavy Michael writing pretty much all of the music and lyrics. One thing I didn't care for was the production I think it could've been a little clearer sounding but nevertheless the guitars (Christopher & Michael Amott) are simply amazing!

Michael Amott (ex-Carcass member) puts together a good lineup here it's a shame Christopher is no longer with the band. Johan making his best effort I think on "Burning Bridges" but was replaced after that by Angela Gossow. Some have said it's taken away the unique vocal efforts by Johan I still think they made a good move by changing vocalists. Johan was good on this release but he doesn't exhibit much variety (i.e. screams, etc.).

I'd have to conclude though that musically this is Arch Enemy's BEST release. The reason being that not only are the riffs melodic they are entirely emotional on some tracks (check out the outro riff on "Bridge Of Destiny"). They are original sounding to me AE's "Stigmata" is like Carcass's "Heartwork" a true classic. I think I've heard some of the greatest leads by Christopher though Michael is way more emotional and less technical on his lead efforts. Plus a lot of use of the Wah-Pedal.

If you're curious about this album and what great significance it is in AE's discography check out these tracks first hand: (not in order) "Dark Of The Sun", "Sinister Mephisto", "Bridge Of Destiny", and "Diva Satanica".

Here's every song described briefly:

1. Beast Of Man: No intro to this album it starts off with speed picking guitars (The Amotts) and a short solo by Michael. Enter the vocals under a different speed picked riff then drum roll into the chorus, which displays AE's melodic domination. Some blast beating going on here as well but most notable is the chorus by far. Though the later lead melody over the heavy rhythm guitar is pretty sweet. Christopher's solo is simply brilliant then enter Michael who always displays so much emotion in his leads. But anyway, the song ends after the awesome chorus riff.

2. Stigmata (Instrumental): Non-technical intro riffing guitars and then holy Christ the melody by the Amotts here is truly awesome! An instrumental song here that's filled with lead riffs making it pretty unique. Then ending on the first main riff segues into "Sinister Mephisto".

3. Sinister Mephisto: Drum roll into a quick tempo by the guitars. This next riff is almighty! So is the chorus really melodic and unique. The chorus is pretty cool then back to the intro riff. Next is the main verse riff that I called "almighty" well it is and Johan's vocals hoarse as usual but with much aggression. Pretty sweet lead trade-offs towards the ending of the song. Coming to a close with the chorus riff.

4. Dark Of The Sun: Heavy intro and verse riffs then a melodic pre-chorus riff that really captivates the listener! I'd have to conclude that some of the best riffs on this entire album comes from this song no doubt. Heavy vocals as is of course characteristic of Johan. The chorus is so very unique and incredible. Fits perfectly with the vocals. Some of the guitar is hard to make out however but only during the lead. Following that is a riff that again captivates!!! Christopher's lead is amazing then segue into the final verse, chorus then outro. This ends the masterpiece of a song that it is!

5. Let The Killing Begin: Pretty killer intro heavy of course following a drum fill which then a kick ass verse riff under Johan's vocals. Some gallops on the guitar then sweet chorus very melodic! But the verse riff I'd say simply dominates because of its simplicity and ultra heaviness! There are also some killer riffs preceding the guitar solo and after as well some clean toned riff plus electric lead! Which of course then entire the final verse then end on the outro chorus!

6. Black Earth: Tremelo picked intro with a voice under it that's difficult to make out. Pretty cool succeeding riff but honestly I never much cared for this track. It doesn't have as much melody as the previous. The vocals are not bad and the chorus I'd say one of the most melodic out of the entire song. I found the repetitious verse guitar riff to be somewhat boring though others may disagree it just to me isn't that prominent. There is a pretty awesome lead to this song however very melodic! Back to the intro and verse, then pre-chorus and outro verse. Then final riff ends the song.

7. Hydra (Instrumental): Clean toned melodic intro riff over a lead melody with a unique sounding tone to it. This track is very short but the sound of the guitars are cool.

8. Tears Of The Dead: Strange sounding intro riff followed by a solo then pretty cool verse riff and vocals. The chorus repeats that strange intro riff but Johan delivering some good vox here. Everything repeats once again then afterwards the verse riff and solo come into play. Good rhythm guitar on this song, plus the drums are as in all tracks well executed and in sync. Mixed nicely into the music. The outro verse exhibited here and then the strange intro riff that ends with "TEARS OF THE DEAD!!!"

9. Vox Stellarum (Instrumental): Mellow piano intro to this song for about a minute or 2 then enter the lead and rhythm guitars. Not so dark of a song as are the previous tracks but still good in my opinion. Song ends with the piano very nicely just before the last song "Bridge Of Destiny".

10. Bridge Of Destiny: I think this track is among the BEST ones on the whole release. Melodic guitar intro then galloping verse riff. ALL of the riffs on this track rule. Not only are they melodic but heavy as all hell. The outro riff by the Amott's is probably the best they've EVER come up with! This song should be the first one you download if you're interested in purchasing this release. The import CD has 2 bonus tracks "Diva Satanica" and "Damnation's Way". Getting back to the song, the solos also rule!


Reviewed By: Death8699 -