The way Arch Enemy hit every mark on their new album is very nearly suspicious. Without devolving into cliché (thankfully, there doesn't appear to be any direct paeans to the metal lifestyle), this Swedish quintet neatly encapsulates all the excellence that heavy metal has to offer in a way that is neither retro nor overtly "progressive," making one wonder if they followed a Metal 101 guidebook. (I'm sure they didn't.) Steadily improving since their formation in the mid-'90s, the appropriately titled "Anthems of Rebellion" highlights Arch Enemy's two strongest suits: the phenomenally powerful (and nearly melodic) drumming of Daniel Erlandsson and the tonsil-shredding growl of Angela Gossow, perhaps the least feminine female singer on the planet. That team pummels its way through fist-pumping, er, anthems ("We Will Rise," "End of the Line"), thrash beasts ("Despicable Heroes") and spit-flecked ragers ("Leader of the Rats"). The riff/solo team of guitarist brothers Michael and Christopher Arnott raise the bar for melody and bruising chunkiness, but without Erlandsson's exceptional drumming and Gossow's distinctive scariness, "Anthems" would just be a great metal album. With those powerhouses on board, it's an amazing one.
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