Arch Enemy have gone back to the classics like Iron Maiden or Helloween and successfully injected much of what made traditional metal classic into the body of their primarily 90s death metal sound. The results are -very- successful and this mixing is what makes Stigmata a great album. Arch Enemy introduce blinding solos of epic length straight after belting out viciously bassy riffs and deep powerful vocals: a beautiful contrast.
Stigmata received mixed reviews by critics, who compared it with the previous Arch Enemy album, Black Earth. Jason Anderson of Allmusic noted that "as often happens with highly anticipated follow-ups, Stigmata disappointed some fans with what some called a more restrained sound and lesser material" and criticized the singer Johan Liiva and the addition of the session drummer Peter Wildoer. Nevertheless, Anderson praised Michael Amott stating that "these problems are really minor when balanced against Amott's massive playing and songwriting, so while Stigmata is a fraction off from the band's debut form, Arch Enemy still delivers some nice melodic death metal on the sophomore effort." Paul Schwarz of Chronicles of Chaos first noted that "Arch Enemy have made an interesting, and slightly unexpected, progression from their Black Earth debut of two years ago". He commented that the band "have not drawn their 'melody' from pop or even folk" and what characterises the difference between both albums "can be summed up in three words: classic heavy metal." Schwarz finished with a good review writing that "overall Stigmata is a great album and one of the best directions Arch Enemy could have chosen to follow after their critical success with Black Earth."
Critics Paul Schwarz and EvilG mentioned that the sounds resembles to the Carcass album Heartwork. Schwarz mentions and compares again Black Earth: "Opener "Beast of Man" kicks in with searing riffing and thundering double bass, which creates the false impression that the new material will be far more like the Heartwork era Carcass sound which characterised much of Black Earth. Arch Enemy have, in fact, gone the opposite way - in terms of heaviness, not quality -, and produced an album which utilises far more melody, especially in its choruses, than BE did." EvilG of Metal Rules praises writing that "I think the reason why this CD is so great is that it has re-captured the Carcass Heartwork sound and feel while at the same time incorporating more melody and even some power metal sounds."