"War Eternal", was a nice start, displaying some good energy and interesting ideas. But it is with this album, their 11th one entitled "Will To Power", where the new era of Arch Enemy will show whether they will sink or float, if they continue with these interesting new ideas, or just goes back to old habits.
Well, the band actually goes both ways, but unfortunately, it is the newer ideas that are kind of hidden in the shadows, and even if they are new to the band itself, they are far from original in the grand scheme of things. The most "experimental" bit of "Will To Power" is that we get to hear a good amount of Alissa's clean vocals, which is really surprising. It certainly gives the album more variety, and it works to some extent, but at times, it ends up being a big knock off of Alissa's time in The Agonist, which really does not suit Arch Enemy very well. It might be a direct effect of Alissa being more of a factor in the song writing, but they could definitely have done this differently.
Otherwise, it is just basic Arch Enemy music we get in "Will To Power", melodic death metal where the guitars of Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis are in the center, with some strong female vocals of course. This will definitely please the hard core fans, but I cannot help but feeling that they are just going in neutral mode, not putting in the effort to take the band to the next level. I mean, there is so much talent in this group, guys that are killing it in their side projects, such as Spiritual Beggars, The Night Flight Orchestra, and Conquering Dystopia, but when they turn their focus to Arch Enemy, they seem to not care all too much.
This is obviously a shame, because I do appreciate the performances here. Michael and Jeff does spit out some great riffs and solos here and there, Alissa nails both the harsh and clean vocals, and the drums, by long time member Daniel Erlandsson, got that same hard hitting feeling that we would expect from this band, but all of these performances are used in songs that lacks punch and ingenuity, and the few songs that do feel different are so for the wrong reasons. The intro "Set Flame To The Night" is fantastic, but it is just a one minute intro, so it does not really add anything, which also goes for the cover of the GBH song "City Baby Attacked By Rats" (although it being fantastic is kind of wrong, it is at most okay).
It is actually kind of ironic that one of the best songs of the record is a rip off of the very song that defines the Arch Enemy formula, "Nemesis". The lead single "The World Is Yours" has all of the familiar tricks, a speedy intro, an incredible catchy main riff and chorus, and an epic finisher that includes a magnificent solo. Once again, a great song, but because it is so similar to "Nemesis", it just ticks me off quite a lot, and summarizes "Will To Power" in general pretty accurately, an album that tries to be something great, but ends up being an uninspired meh of an album. Speaking of ticking me off, "Murder Scene" does so too, being one of the more energetic songs of the record, but having the guitar work that fits more with In Flames. I love In Flames, so I definitely like the song, but it is weird that Arch Enemy came up with this one, because besides from being Swedish and a melo death band, the two bands have nothing in common.
So technically, I cannot call "Will To Power" a bad album, because it has some moments where the band tries to bring something new to the table, but it all goes unnoticed for material that is more safe in its approach. The guitar work is really nice, and the other performances are professional, but that is probably the only brilliant aspects of the album, the songs are mediocre, the lyrics are either cheesy or forgettable, and the overall tone of the album is nothing special at all. That second wind the band got from "War Eternal" did not last very long, now did it?
Songs worthy of recognition: The World Is Yours, The Race, Dreams of Retribution
Rating: 5,5/10 Murder Scenes
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