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Arch Enemy are melodic death-metal titans with a fascinating catalog behind them. Since founding in 1995, the Swedish group have cycled through three different vocalists — Johan Liiva, Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz — who've each had their own distinct approach to screaming over guitarist Michael Ammott's earth-scraping riffage and the humongous rhythms that his longtime bandmates, drummer Daniel Erlandsson and bassist Sharlee D'Angelo, conjure up. There're so many bangers from every era of their discography, we knew it would be a challenge when we asked our readers to pick their absolute favorite Arch Enemy song to date. The top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below, and there are definitely a couple surprises in the bunch.
In many ways, 2014's War Eternal marked the start of Arch Enemy's third era, with White-Gluz taking over vocals from Gossow and founding guitarist Chris Amott (brother of Michael) stepping aside from the band. That said, songs like the record's title track still have Arch Enemy's unmistakable flair — beastly growls, lyrical themes lifted straight from the battlefield, and a face-melting solo.
This one's a deep cut! Arch Enemy's second record, 1998's Stigmata, was made when OG vocalist Johan Liiva was still fronting the band; he had a much rawer, grislier delivery compared to his two successors. "Let the Killing Begin" still resides on the melodic side of the death-metal spectrum, but it has proggier riffage, grittier guitar tones and longer instrumental breaks than you'd hear on Arch Enemy's later material.
"The Eagle Flies Alone" is nothing short of epic. The mouth-watering lead riff and gigantic-sounding production crackle like a violent thunderstorm, and when White-Gluz's demonic screams come in, they cut through everything like lightning in the night sky. This one from 2017's Will to Power resides in the band's mid-tempo pocket, and the chorus sounds as triumphant as it does downright scary.
"My Apocalypse" just might be best song from Gossow's era of the band. Besides the utterly grim riffage and spine-tingling refrain — "My apocalypse is near/I can feel the end, coming here," screamed with the wrath of 1,000 hell beasts — the band still manage to toss in a couple successful experimentations. There's some sort of whirring sound effect in the background that suggests a whistling wind, and the song's peculiar bridge features eerie delay and a groove that's damn-near jazzy.
"First Day in Hell," another song from Will to Power, features some of Arch Enemy's darkest subject matter to date. White-Gluz wrote her lyrics from the perspective of her grandparents, both of whom survived the Holocaust. "Torn from home, sent down death's railroad," is the first line she screams with explosive might over a chuggy, stomping riff decked out with a pirouetting lead lick. A sobering tale of resilience with a fitting musical accompaniment, the cut showcases superb metal songwriting all around.