Heavy metal fans are a notoriously loyal bunch, so nothing drives them ape-shit quite like when their favorite bands "sell out" to commercial aspirations of any sort (or, Lucifer forbid, sign to a major label -- heck, even a major metal label like Roadrunner!), in which case these fans' thirst for revenge knows no bounds, and their sense of objectivity towards said band's music flies right out the window. Arch Enemy knows this all too well. Ever since Mike Amott's bunch replaced popular lead vocalist Johan Liiva with the largely unknown (and very female) Angela Gossow (who was later revealed to be romantically involved with Amott), they've endured incessant criticism from Liiva loyalists and shameless misogynists alike. Yes, the band also cleaned up their sound a bit, gradually moving from full-on death metal to a slightly more digestible death/thrash hybrid, but then so did most of their peers over the course of the ‘00s; and of course none of this was instigated by Gossow, whose ragged croaking was, if anything, even nastier than Liiva's, and her performance were just as dictated by Amott's authoritarian rule. No, if there's any worthy justification to this rampant negativity, it would be that, after making a strong statement with Gossow's debut on 2002's Wages of Sin, the band's next two offerings, Anthems of Rebellion (2003) and Doomsday Machine (2005), simply weren't very good (not that one could tell from the increased sales figures); so could the improvements achieved by 2007's much more focused Rise of the Tyrant finally cut Arch Enemy a little slack? Well, probably not, since not only did the band not scale back the melodic inclinations and simple but identifiable choruses permeating furiously thrashing standouts like "The Last Enemy," "In This Shallow Grave," and "Revolution Begins," they didn't oust the endlessly controversial Gossow, either, who was still (wo)manning the microphone. But for all those capable of concentrating on the music itself, instead of these various sideshows, there was plenty of very decent head banging to be had. It's still a far cry from representing a full-scale career redemption, or marking some miraculous return to Swedish-style death metal circa 1991 (sorry, Carnage and Carcass fans), but with so much mediocre metal saturating the globe, Arch Enemy still deliver a better proposition than most with Rise of the Tyrant.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia