Wages of Sin is the fourth studio album by the Swedishmelodic death metal band Arch Enemy. It is the first Arch Enemy album to feature the vocals of Angela Gossow. It is also the first album they use Standard-C tuning, which they still use today.
Much like 1999's Burning Bridges, Wages of Sin is a powerful barrage of complex riffing that alternates between the blindingly brutal and the stunningly melodic, all the while maintaining a level of intensity that is rarely heard on present-day metal recordings. The musicianship, as usual, is impeccable, with the Amott brothers proving once again that they are the masters of their craft, with the bulk of their guitar work owing as much death metal overtones as they appear to be derived from a more traditional hard rock approach, particularly in the song arrangements, which rarely deviate from the conventional.
Wages of Sin was well received by critics, who praised the new singer Angela Gossow. Blake Jessop of Blistering said that she handles the vocals on the album expertly. But he wrote that "while less diverse than Liiva, the diminutive German's more traditional death metal style gives Wages an uncommonly brutal, if slightly less creative air." Jessop also states the album "musically, it is predictably brilliant". Dennis of Lords of Metal said that "the female vocals by Angela Gossow are a remarkable performance" and that it was a big improvement compared to the former singer Johan Liiva. Jeff of Metal Storm stated that "with Wages of Sin, Arch Enemy delivers to us one of the best albums of the year 2002 and proves us by the same opportunity that girls are not relegated to only sing in atmospheric and gothic metal." Ty Brookman and Jon Eardley of Metal Review was surprised with the Gossow vocals. Brookman commented that when he heard that Arch Enemy would a female singer, his first reaction was "career suicide", but after to listen to the album, he changed his mind stating that "Gossow delivers a vocal tirade that rivals any male vocalist." Brookman praised the band, however, he said about the album that there are elements that seem lacking in a few places. Eardley said that this album has "one of the best vocal performances of 2001" and that it "is a true masterpiece." Chris Flaaten of Chronicles of Chaos wrote that "the album has their best production to date and variety is abundant" and that the band found what they needed in Gossow. Despite Serge Regoor of Archaic Magazine states that her voice sounds great, he comments that "actually the vocals are much better too, but they are still not as good compared to the guitarwork." Haavard Holm of Tartarean Desire praised the band writing that it "has capacities beyond the normal" and stated that "Wages of Sin is simply so well done in all ways, that it will be hard for any band to overcome this album in this genre." Another critic of Tartarean Desire, Vincent Eldefors praised the singer Angela Gossow stating that she is one of the best lead vocalists in extreme metal along ex-Opera IX Cadaveria. Adam Bregman of Allmusic wrote that Gossow "is just the right touch to add to a band who ranks among metal's most progressive and unique outfits."
Blabbermouth.net's Borivoj Krgin praised the production of the album calling it "most impressive production job out of all the Arch Enemy albums." El Cid of Metal Rules praised the band stating that "this is arpeggio heaven amongst other things, the drumming is tight, the bass is excellent and the guitars are simply magnificent." Jeff of Metal Storm liked of quality of the production and praised the songs and the musicians calling it of "simply excellent" and "simply brilliant", respectively. He said that "the Amott brothers are certainly among the best guitarists of today's metal scene."
Despite the good reviews for the album, Vargscarr of Maelstrom wrote that the album is "same old, but with far superior vocals to the previous releases; and much less interesting songs." Vargscarr compared it with previous album, Burning Bridges: "Gone is the bombast of "Demonic Science" or "Angelclaw"; and worse still, Wages of Sin lacks the wonderful solos. The song structures all seem very modern, and the general modus operandi the band spent their last three releases defining seems to have been lost." He also wrote that not one of the solos present on the album even come close to "Dead Inside" from Burning Bridges. He commented that the album "is not all bad, but it's a big let down for those who've enjoyed the band in the past." Although he has given a negative review to the album, Vargscarr praised Gossow saying that "at least the vocals are the best" and "she needs to hook up with Children of Bodom; for there is a modern heavy metal band crying out for a vocalist of her calibre." On the other hand, Chris Dick praised the songs in his review for Teeth of the Divine highlighting "Heart of Darkness", writing that "if Carcass' Heartwork had a proper follow-up, there's no doubt "Heart of Darkness" would be on the album." Nevertheless, Dick also stated that the instrumental song "Snow Bound" "actually disrupts the smooth flow of the album" and "the track’s presence is to fill space." However, he finished saying that with this album, Arch Enemy have "a more defined and focused sound and a better idea of where the band is heading compositionally."