Album Review – Arch Enemy / Deceivers (2022)

One of the most important names of the current heavy music scene is back in action with their most solid and detailed album with Alissa White-Gluz on vocals.

Marking the longest gap between two of their studio albums since their 2017 opus Will to Power, the breathtaking Deceivers, the eleventh studio album by Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy, not only will inspire you to break your neck headbanging to its 11 pulverizing tracks, but it’s also by far their most solid and detailed album with the she-wolf Alissa White-Gluz on vocals. Produced, mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen and Hansen Studios, and displaying a classy artwork by Alex Reisfar, Deceivers brings to our avid ears a much more cohesive band where the guitars by Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis, supported by the heavy-as-hell kitchen by bassist Sharlee D’Angelo and drummer Daniel Erlandsson, provide Alissa with exactly what she needs to roar in full force, not to mention it’s also their first album from the Alissa-era where her clean vocals do not sound out of place; quite the contrary, they actually bring a welcome additional touch to their unparalleled music.

The unmatched guitar lines by Michael and Jeff set the stage for Alissa to kick some serious ass with her deep roaring in Handshake with Hell, an absolute banger spearheaded by the classic, pounding drums by Daniel, and they waste no time and keep decimating our senses with their undisputed Melodic Death Metal in Deceiver, Deceiver, where Sharlee and Daniel craft a boisterous kitchen perfect for Alissa’s screams, resulting in a true circle pit machine. In the Eye of the Storm is more melodic and somber than its predecessors with Michael and Jeff cutting your skin deep with their riffs and solos in a more contemporary version of Arch Enemy. Then it’s time for a fulminating creation entitled The Watcher, where Alissa sounds fantastic throughout the entire song growling and screaming deeply like there’s no tomorrow, not to mention the heavy artillery brought forward by Daniel; whereas Poisoned Arrow is the least exciting of all tracks, an introspective creation by Arch Enemy showcasing their usual melodic lines but that lacks the same power from the rest of the album.

Sharlee’s metallic bass ignites the infernal, epic Sunset over the Empire, with Alissa being absolutely demonic on vocals accompanied by her unstoppable bandmates, while House of Mirrors, one of the first singles to come out, sounds in line with their most recent albums, with Michael and Jeff once again elevating the song’s kick with their pulverizing riffs and solos. Dedicated to the memory of LG Petrov from Death Metal institution Entombed, who passed away in 2021 after battling an incurable form of bile duct cancer, Spreading Black Wings is a lot darker than its predecessors, with Daniel dictating the song’s somber pace in great fashion, flowing into the interlude Mourning Star, soothing our souls before the band comes ripping once again in One Last Time, a vicious composition that will inspire you to slam into the pit to the venomous roars by Alissa while Sharlee and Daniel bring thunder and groove to the overall result. Lastly, a sinister intro evolves into a marching tune entitled Exiled from Earth, putting an obscure and climatic ending to the album to the sharp riffage by Michael and Jeff. Moreover, if I were you I would go for the boxset or artbook edition of the album, as they offer us as bonus tracks their electrifying renditions for Fight’s undisputed hit Into the Pit (check the original version HERE), and Picture’s Diamond Dreamer (check the original version HERE).

As already mentioned, Alissa sounds a lot more in sync with the music by Arch Enemy in Deceivers, in special her clean vocals which now make a positive difference whenever they’re inserted in one of the songs from the album, strengthening the legacy of the band even more in the current metal scene. Having said that, you should definitely go after your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, and also by streaming it in full on Spotify, and don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their awesome music. Now it’s just a matter of enjoying Deceivers by listening to it as many times as you want, by getting ready for their thrilling live concerts, by raising your horns to the first-class Melodic Death Metal played by one of the most important names in the more recent history of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Handshake with Hell, Deceiver, Deceiver, The Watcher and Sunset over the Empire.

Worst moments of the album: Poisoned Arrow.

Released in 2022 Century Media

Track listing
1. Handshake with Hell 5:38
2. Deceiver, Deceiver 3:51
3. In the Eye of the Storm 4:09
4. The Watcher 4:58
5. Poisoned Arrow 3:51
6. Sunset over the Empire 4:03
7. House of Mirrors 3:40
8. Spreading Black Wings 4:46
9. Mourning Star 1:36
10. One Last Time 3:49
11. Exiled from Earth 4:44

Boxset/Artbook bonus tracks
12. Into the Pit (Fight cover) 3:52
13. Diamond Dreamer (Picture cover) 3:53

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

Guest musicians
Jacob Hansen – vocals on “Sunset over the Empire”
Raphael Liebermann – cello on “Poisoned Arrow”

Album Review – Manticora / To Live to Kill to Live (2020)

Let the Progressive Power and Thrash Metal by this Denmark-based unity mesmerize you during the 63 minutes of music found in the second part of their horror novel-inspired concept album.

Hvidovre, Denmark’s own Progressive Power/Thrash Metal unity Manticora is back in action in 2020 with their ninth full-length opus, entitled To Live to Kill to Live, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed To Kill to Live to Kill, released in 2018. This is the second part of a grandiose concept based on their 334-page horror novel (which by the way can be purchased HERE), mixed by Jacob Hansen (Primal Fear, U.D.O., Destruction) and featuring guest musicians form bands like Allegiance Reign, Defacing God and Withering Surface, all embraced by a comic book-inspired artwork by Danish artist David Troest. To Live to Kill to Live offers the listener 63 minutes of undisputed metal music, showcasing not only all the dexterity by frontman Lars F. Larsen, gutarists Kristian Larsen and Stefan Johansson, bassist Kasper Gram and drummer Lawrence Dinamarca, but also their creativity and precision in uniting Heavy Metal with a thrilling storytelling. “It all started out as a crazy and almost impossible idea… A book and two albums… I mean… come on? Today I’m so proud of the final result and I still can’t understand that we actually did it,” commented Kristian about the band’s newborn spawn, inviting us all to join them in this breathtaking adventure in the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

A cinematic intro ignites the 14-minute aria entitled Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud, quickly exploding into modern and electrifying Heavy Metal where Lawrence is absolutely bestial on drums, sounding like a hybrid between the music by Trivium and Stratovarius, and with Kristian and Stefan delivering sheer stamina from their riffs and solos. Furthermore, the storyline progresses flawlessly together with the massive wall of sounds and all breaks and variations blasted by Manticora, building an instant connection with the Japanese-inspired bridge To Nanjing, bringing peace to our minds and soothing our souls before those Danish metallers explode our senses with the imposing The Farmer’s Tale, Pt. 3 – Eaten by the Beasts, where Kasper and Lawrence bring tons of groove and intricacy to the music while Lars keeps declaiming the song’s dark words in great fashion, not to mention the guitar duo’s wicked solos. Then it’s time for a Groove and Heavy Metal feast entitled Slaughter in the Desert Room, where both guitars and Kasper’s bass jabs generate a rumbling atmosphere perfect for Lars to fire more of his trademark vocals. In other words, this amazing song couldn’t have sounded bolder nor more epic than what it already is.

Following such insane composition, phantasmagorical keys give an extra touch of evil and darkness to Through the Eyes of the Killer – Filing Teeth, a true Metal Opera where Kristian and Stefan take the lead with their sinister guitars while Lawrence blasts sluggish, Doom Metal-inspired beats; followed by Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life, leaning towards classic Scandinavian Melodic Death and Power Metal and at the same time sounding as thunderous as it can be, with Lars giving a lesson in passion and feeling while his bandmates don’t stop crushing their instruments not even for a single second for our total delectation. And Tasered/Ice Cage is another explosion of modern-day Melodic Death Metal with both Kristian and Stefan kicking some serious ass with their strident, piercing guitar lines, always in absolute sync with Lawrence’s intricate beats.

Then serene, acoustic guitars intertwined with crisp riffs in a Dream Theater-ish style ignite the pleasant Goodbye Tina, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and with tons of harmony flowing from Lars’ vocal lines, before Manticora come ripping once again with Tasered/Removal, a heavy and rumbling tune where Kasper does a superb job with his metallic bass, being perfect for cracking your neck headbanging to their solid fusion of Groove and Power Metal; whereas the atmospheric instrumental bridge Stalin Strikes will expand your senses and gently flow into a Japanese-spoken narrative titled Ten Thousand Cold Nights, advancing the storyline into the closing tune Katana – Beheaded, sounding and feeling imposing and vibrant form the very first second, therefore putting a climatic end to the album with all band members being on fire, in special the band’s unstoppable guitar duo and the talented Lawrence, while Lars continues to give life to the story through his soaring vocals.

If you haven’t got in touch with the music by Manticora yet, go check what those Danish metallers are up to on Facebook and on Instagram, listen to more of their music (including the first part of the story released in 2018) on Spotify, and grab a copy of To Live to Kill to Live from their own BandCamp page, from the Sound Pollution webstore, from the ViciSolum Productions’ BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In summary, we must all admit Manticore have definitely outdone themselves in their new album, sounding tighter and even more melodic and incendiary than in their previous album, and concluding their epic Japanese saga on a high and utterly metallic note. After setting the bar so high with To Live to Kill to Live, what’s next for Manticora? Well, that’s something only time will tell, but until then we have a lot of high-end metal music to enjoy thanks to one of the best bands hailing from the Danish scene.

Best moments of the album: Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud, Slaughter in the Desert Room and Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life.

Worst moments of the album: Goodbye Tina.

Released in 2020 ViciSolum Productions

Track listing
1. Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud 14:40
2. To Nanjing 1:57
3. The Farmer’s Tale, Pt. 3 – Eaten by the Beasts 4:23
4. Slaughter in the Desert Room 6:11
5. Through the Eyes of the Killer – Filing Teeth 4:59
6. Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life 5:25
7. Tasered/Ice Cage 5:45
8. Goodbye Tina 5:54
9. Tasered/Removal 3:16
10. Stalin Strikes 2:36
11. Ten Thousand Cold Nights 0:51
12. Katana – Beheaded 7:26

Band members
Lars F. Larsen – vocals
Kristian Larsen – guitars
Stefan Johansson – guitars
Kasper Gram – bass
Lawrence Dinamarca – drums