Armageddon

Three

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Christopher Amott's final attempt to escape the long shadow cast by big brother Mike, before accepting his fate as second fiddle (or second guitarist, anyway) in the more popular Arch Enemy, 2002's Three closed the book on his heavy metal side project Armageddon after -- you guessed it -- three albums. But its title had other implications beyond the obvious since, after parting ways with bassist Dick Löwgren and singer Rickard Bengtsson (both off to start new band, Last Tribe), Amott surprisingly decided to take over vocal duties and record the album as a trio with returning Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson and former Eucharist bassist Tobias Gustafsson. What's more, although he lacked Bengtsson's emotional and literal range (as in octaves reached), Amott proved quite capable of holding down the mike in commanding fashion, even if it was still his considerable six-string abilities that drew the spotlight during catchy trad-metal anthems like "Heart of Ice," "Winter Skies," "Final Destination," and the melodic thrasher "Burn the Sun." Curiously, his vocal tone was often reminiscent of other guitar greats who graduated to frontmen such as John Sykes and Zakk Wylde, and his songs admittedly borrowed rather liberally from the classic metal reference library for ideas, with the clearest example being the Uli Roth-era Scorpions-quoting "Stranglehold" (think "Polar Nights"). Finally, although its overall creative direction was perhaps more consistently metallic than the preceding Embrace the Mystery (the Alice in Chains doppelganger "Well of Sadness" being a notable stylistic diversion), Three ultimately lacked quite the same unique character delivered by the former LP's almost shocking detours into outright hard rock. Not enough to tarnish Armageddon's last hurrah, though, which some fans actually hold to be superior to Arch Enemy's best efforts (just as they felt about Mike Amott's parallel hobby, Spiritual Beggars), even if overall sales figures told another story. [In 2010, Century Media reissued Three along with Armageddon's second album, Embrace the Mystery, as a two-disc set, enhanced with several bonus cuts.]

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