2005 was a huge year of trial and error for me. In a lot of ways it mirrored the mid 80s, where I would browse a record store and see a cover that stood out, a band logo or a label and I’d give it a try. 2005 was the same, but in place of the record store it was magazines like Decibel and Terrorizer. I’d read about a band, feel the words of reviews echo a certain way in my head and find the album. Sometimes the album worked in the way I thought. Sometimes it worked, but different. Sometimes it didn’t.
So enters Doomsday Machine, the 2005 album by Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy.
Here’s an example of an album, and a band, that is perfectly adequate in every way – maybe even really good – but does absolutely noting for me. There are moments where I cringe: that soporific melodic line in “Nemesis” that serves as the building block for the song is infuriating, about as much as the nonsensical lyrics, with special malice directed at the chorus. But then there the viciousness of “I Am Legend/Out For Blood” and I feel like maybe there’s spark that speaks to me. But it passes, quickly, and I’m left with a mundane, pedestrian album that never has any highs or lows. There’s lack of dynamics and nothing ever manages to reach me. It’s been this way for every Arch Enemy album, and it’s been this way the one time I saw them live.
All the motions in perfect place. Every grimace and solo immaculate. And nothing ever crosses the line that tingles a nerve. I won’t say Doomsday Machine is a bad album, but it’s a toothless album, unable to bite. Or if it bites, I can’t feel it.