Arch Enemy – Wages of Sin
After taking a slight detour from our normal format, we’re picking up where we left off today with Arch Enemy’s 2002 record ‘Wages of Sin’. ‘Wages of Sin’ was Arch Enemy’s 4th record, but was the first one to feature the vocal talents of German female vocalist Angela Gassow, my celebrity crush for most of the early 2000’s.
I first discovered Arch Enemy back in the summer of 2002 when I was up visiting my family in Western New York for my cousin Jennifer’s wedding. As memory serves me, it was late at night and I had MTV 2 on the TV. The network had just tried to relaunch their classic Head Bangers Ball show, and though I never watched the original show, I was willing to give this reboot a shot. At that time, I was trying to embrace a lot of the newer metal I had been ignoring for years. Throughout most of the 90’s I lost interest in most metal. It just did nothing for me. But in late 1998 my love for metal began to rekindle, I was always on the lookout for newer extreme metal, or at least new to me. But the problem was I was still an old-school thrash metal head, and very little of the current metal did much for me. So, when the video for Arch Enemy’s ‘Ravenous’ came on the TV, they got my attention. The opening guitar riff was right up my alley and I was hooked immediately. But then Angela Gassow came on the screen and I was sold no questions asked. Here was a female vocal delivering the most brutal death metal vocals that I’d heard in years. And the fact that she was hot didn’t hurt matters any.
Hot female singer aside, the music for ‘Ravenous’ was literally everything I wanted in extreme metal at the time. The song was very riff orientated, tight bass lines, and crushing drums. But when the songs broke down for the guitar solos, I found myself falling in love with the song even more. Being an 80’s child that grew up on Ozzy, Black Sabbath, WASP, and Iron Maiden, one thing I loved about metal was that the guitar solos had melody and went somewhere. They weren’t just a blast of technical acrobatics (though they weren’t afraid to go there from time to time). But in a lot of those metal record I grew up with, the guitars solos were just as memorable as the vocal melodies. That was something I missed with a lot of the late 90’s and early 2000’s metal I was hearing. But that seemed to be exactly what Arch Enemy was about, brutal rhythms, strong vocals, and melodic guitar solos and harmonies. I loved it!
But my dumb ass never wrote down the name of the band, thinking I would just be able to remember them and be able to buy the CD when I got the chance. Well, I didn’t remember the name of the band right away. I remember searching Eide’s metal section trying to find them, hoping that I’d see something that would spark my memory. The best I can remember that didn’t happen until I by chance ended up with a Century Media sampler CD that had ‘Ravenous’ and ‘Heart of Darkness’ on it. I used to play the CD regularly while I cleaned this after-hours club I worked at. I found that I really didn’t like most the bands on the disc, except Arch Enemy and Lacuna Coil. I also noticed I didn’t care for the second Arch Enemy song ‘Heart Of Darkness’. Because of that, I was reluctant to pay the $15 for ‘Wages of Sin’ whenever I saw at the music store.
In fact, it would be years before I really began to dig into the band some more. Around 2004 I found their second record with Angela ‘Anthems of Rebellion’ and that really didn’t do much for me. I thought the musicianship was good. But it didn’t move me that much. It wasn’t until around 2008 or so when I began to find their later CD’s dirt cheap that I really got into them. I’m can’t remember if I bought 2005’s ‘Doomsday Machine’ on blind faith, or if I heard it some of it before buying it. But once I got that CD, I really started to get into the band and tried to buy up every CD and DVD I came across. I think it was during this time when I bought ‘Wages of Sin’, 7 years after initially falling in love with the song ‘Ravenous’ and forming my celebrity crush on Angela Gassow.
But my enthusiasm for Arch Enemy only seemed to last a couple of years. In late 2009, my situation changed and I ended up moving back to the WNY area. With that move, my musical interests shifted a bit. I started to dig into classic rock and progressive rock more than I had since high school. With that shift, I started to lose interest in a lot of the metals bands that was I obsessed with just a couple years before. It seemed all those bands were putting out the same CD every two years. Arch Enemy’s 2011 ‘Khaos Legions’ sounded exactly like 2007’s ‘Rise of the Tyrant’ to me and I never bothered to buy it. Eventually, Angela would step down as the band’s vocalist to focus on managing the band. Though her replacement Alissa White-Gluz was just as talented (and hot) I just couldn’t get into it. Not that the music is bad, it’s great. But I’m just not interested in putting the time into exploring those records. The handful of Arch Enemy CD’s I own is enough to satisfy my taste for them.
That said, it has been fun revisiting this record this afternoon. Though some of its charms have worn off for me. I found ‘Ravenous’ isn’t as mind blowing as I thought it was 15 years ago. In fact, it’s sort of average sounding. But as I type out these last few sentences ‘Wages of Sin’ have wrapped up and the opening tune for ‘Doomsday Machine’ has started playing and I can already tell I miss that record more. Had I bought ‘Wages of Sin’ when I first discovered the band, perhaps that record would hold more nostalgia for me, but saying I got it after I discovered the later albums, I find it doesn’t measure up and stand the test of time that well for me.