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Arch Enemy: blurring the line between turbo-thrash avant-punk extremism and Eurovision

Serious death metal Swedes Arch Enemy indulge their symphonic Eurovision side on 11th album Deceivers

Arch Enemy - Deceivers album art
(Image: © Century Media)

Fronted by straight-edge Canadian vegan Alissa White-Gluz, Swedish melodic death metallers Arch Enemy make unlikely recruits to Satan’s stampeding stormtrooper hordes. 

Edging ever closer to the delirious pomposity of symphonic metal, these veteran Nordic nihilists sound both technically precise and comically preposterous on their eleventh studio album, but with a ferocious hardcore edge that makes them difficult to dismiss as pure pantomime. 

As White-Gluz swerves effortlessly between clean pop-rock vocals and guttural porcine grunting while ex-Carcass guitarist Michael Arnott cranks out the overdriven multi-tracked flamethrower fretwork, thunderous electro-orchestral battle anthems like Deceiver, Deceiver and Spreading Black Wings blur the line between Eurovision uber-kitsch and turbo-thrash avant-punk extremism.

There is wistful Celtpop yearning here too, amid all the gravel-voiced bellowing. Indeed, spangled folk-metal epics like The Watcher and Poisoned Arrow could almost be Enya, albeit a fire-breathing, nail-gargling, skull-splitting version of Enya shat forth from the rank-smelling depths of Beelzebub’s very own flame-grilled anus. In other words, fun for all the family

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.