- Arch Enemy
There're gimmicks, and then there are really good gimmicks. It's safe to place Arch Enemy's initial point of interest in the latter category. They're a metal band from Sweden that plays a style called "melodic death," which means that the guitarists play identifiable, hummable riffs in the grand metal tradition, while their vocalist favors the rasping, screaming, polyp-inducing style that usually keeps safe distance between death-metal bands and any pop charts outside of Scandinavia (where Arch Enemy is, naturally, a star).
Arch Enemy's lead singer, though, is a young woman named Angela Gossow.
This isn't just refreshing; it's downright transgressive. True, if "they're a death-metal band but their singer's a girl" were all there was to it, it wouldn't be much worth writing home about. But the melodic death Arch Enemy deals is like a modern-day Thin Lizzy on a strict diet of cheap candy and Jolt cola, which is to say it's more fun than throwing bricks through windows on a Saturday night. It's pretty rare that a rock album manages to combine memorable pop tunes with time-tested anti-parent strategies like screaming a lot and giving songs titles like "Burning Angel" and "Savage Messiah." It's rarer still for the singer of such songs to look like she just finished posing for Cosmo. The bottom line here, though, is that Arch Enemy plays great heavy metal that's interested only in bettering itself, song after song. And that, in the final analysis, is no gimmick at all.