Thursday, June 12, 2014

Arch Enemy - War Eternal (2014)

There were probably a lot of you that were shocked when you woke up to the news that Angela Gossow, the female front figure of death metal band Arch Enemy, had left her position, after 14 years of excellent service, to instead focus on being involved in the band's management. Not only has Angela been the singer for one of the biggest death metal bands out there today, she paved the way for female vocalists to show that even they can execute brutal vocal melodies with their voices, so who ever would take her place, would have a tough job ahead of them.

Eventually, it stood clear that it was Alissa White-Gluz who would be the new queen of Arch Enemy. Alissa is mostly known for her work in The Agonist, where she mixed both harsh and clean vocals, and she has definitely done some good work there (the latest album for example, "Prisoners"). So with in mind of what she has done in the past and what capacity she has, I think Alissa is a good replacement for the band.

And that becomes even more evident in the band's 10th studio offering, "War Eternal". Alissa does a great job behind the microphone with her large vocal range. And no, she doesn't use her clean vocals once throughout the album (except for one small part in the chorus of "Avalanche", but it is non significant), which is of course an instant plus (could you imagine? Arch Enemy with clean vocals? eww).

Besides from Alissa, there is not much that has changed with Arch Enemy between this album and its predecessor, "Khaos Legions". Although Cristopher Amott left the band once again in 2012 (replaced by Nick Cordle), it is still his brother and founding member Michael Amott that rules the guitar playing with his mix of melodic and heavy riffs. And together with the intense drumming by Daniel Erlandsson and the deep bass rhythms by Sharlee D'Angelo, the band has created some impressive work in "War Eternal".

Some of the strong points of the album are the fast paced title track, the dark and heavy "As The Pages Burn", the melodic "You Will Know My Name" and the apocalyptic "On And On", but there are also some parts of the record that just does not seem right. One thing that bothers me the most is the large amounts of neo-classical music, a thing that fits more into a power metal band or a Yngwie Malmsteen album. Guess that Micheal took some inspiration from the wrong sources. I also do not like how the album itself is build. The first half is considerably better than the second half, so it would have been better to even out the field, and don't even get me started on that boring instrumental "Not Long For This World" that ends the album.

Just like most of the later albums by the band, "War Eternal" will create some controversy. Some will love it, others will hate it. I myself think it is one of the stronger albums by the band, but that its inconsistencies keeps it from being a masterpiece. No matter what, the band still does their thing and Alissa's solid performance makes it seem like nothing significant has happened to the band. The new queen has made her first appearance, and it seems to be the start of a new, strong regime in Arch Enemy.

Songs worthy of recognition: War Eternal, You Will Know My Name, On And On

Rating: 7/10 Avalanches

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