One gets the feeling that Doomsday Machine is something of a make-or-break album for Sweden's Arch Enemy. Easily the most commercial effort of the band's career thus far, it signals that dangerous moment in any heavy metal band's existence when, in a bid for acceptance on a wider scale, the bandmembers must risk upsetting the loyal fan base that has carried them thus far. Then again, original diehards already accused Arch Enemy of selling out years before, when they replaced popular frontman Johan Liiva with newcomer Angela Grossow and inaugurated their experiments with more subtle metallic songwriting tricks. And when your man in charge is Michael Amott, survivor of countless heavy metal style battles and long-deceased former bands, guitar-driven overkill is really the only surefire guarantee -- with risk-taking simply a function of the game. Doomsday Machine's "game" begins with "Enter the Machine," a majestic, harmony-laden instrumental that some might find more adequate for a power metal album than anything from Arch Enemy, but which actually proves very fitting as exceedingly melodious songs like "Taking Back My Soul," "Mechanic God Creation," and "Slaves of Yesterday" proceed to be unleashed. The serious thrashing of yesteryear is dominant on only a couple of cuts: the rather average "Machtkampf" and the quite memorable "Nemesis," neither of them sacrificing their melodic touches, as the Amott brothers appear intent on chugging out cleaner, linear riffs instead, and leave drummer Daniel Erlandsson to account for much of the hyperactivity from the rear. As for the front, vocalist Gossow's ragged croak is really put to the test by the band's increasingly melodic and dynamically varied instrumental backdrops, giving rise to legitimate concerns as to whether she has finally transformed from asset to liability. Never an overpowering presence to begin with (calling Karyn Crisis!), at times she totally nails it (such as on the album highlight "Carry the Cross"), while at others she's given the studio processing treatment (see the quasi-industrial "My Apocalypse"), as if in a bid to keep up with the surrounding din. Not that the lyrics handed her by Amott provide much inspiration, either, seeming geared less toward actual meaning than sounding good and functional in a chorus (witness the utterly disposable "Skeleton Dance"). In summary, and regardless of the above reservations, there's no disputing that Doomsday Machine is, fundamentally, yet another immaculately produced Arch Enemy album, forged first and foremost by the vision of Michael Amott's guitar. If that vision lacks for extreme metallic fury because Amott has decided to make Arch Enemy the next Iron Maiden instead of the next Slayer, then at least his cards are laid out on the table, and fans can make up their own minds as to whether they want to follow.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia