Listened to two more CDs from the grab bag. Again, they present a remarkable contrast.
Arch Enemy. Khaos Legions: This is going to sound like a criticism, but it really isn't: if I had to describe this album in two words, I'd say, "refreshingly unoriginal". Musically there's almost nothing on here that would have felt out of place on a metal album of twenty years ago - maybe a few groove metal-ish breakdowns just to prove that the 90's really happened. And some of the riffs and guitar solos are so predictable that I felt like I could sing along with them on a first listen. But the thing is, I wanted to sing along with it on a first listen. Heck, I wanted to go find a mosh pit on first listen. And play Warhammer. At the same time. No, I'm not sure how that would work.
Act As If. The Iron Is Hot: As far as I can tell, this band are not and never were signed to Century Media records. Presumably it got into the grab bag by accident - or perhaps via a deliberate plot to make some metalheads' heads explode. It's got chimey, reverby guitars, tinkly keyboard bits, a laid-back male singer, and some fairly minimalist percussion provided, I think, by a drum machine. The closest musical comparison I can come up with is that it's a bit reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, although (unfortunately) without the humorously dark lyrics that I associate with Death Cab for Cutie. This is good music for driving on an open road on a lazy sunlit afternoon when you're in no particular hurry to arrive at your destination. I probably will not rush to acquire the band's other albums, but I'll probably keep this EP and give it the odd listen from time to time.