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Arch Enemy – “War Eternal” 2014

 Arch Enemy – “War Eternal”
LABEL: Century Media
YEAR: 2014
GENRE: Melodic Death Metal
RATING: 9.5 / 10

Arch Enemy have been around a while, and they have been very prominent in metal webmedia prior to the release of this, their tenth album. The step-down of well-known vocalist Angela Gossow raised some eyebrows, but she was quickly replaced by a (to me) unknown female talent, Alissa White-Gluz, formerly of Canadian The Agonist. Amott brother Christopher has also left the band (two years ago), and he has been replaced by Nick Cordle, formerly of Arsis.
Now, if anyone have had any doubts if this band is still interesting, I’m here to say: “War Eternal” is pretty much everything any fan of the band could have hoped for (but did not dare to?).

I discovered AE when “Wages Of Sin” came out. It was a big deal with a female screamer in a band around then and I had not come across any(?) female in metal during my first metal years, so to learn that women too could growl was actually news for me. But, even though “Wages” gave me that new experience and had a bunch of cool songs, neither that album nor its successors cemented Arch Enemy as a favorite band of mine. I have always enjoyed Michael Amott’s style of playing and I find his riffing and melodies quite unique but when “Khaos Legions” started spinning in my player I found that the song-writing was really lacking. The intro on that track was cool, and that verse there and that chorus. The songs all had some cool part or parts, but none of them kept the intensity or atmosphere throughout their whole running time. I haven’t listened to the album recently, but I remember I got a kind of schizophrenic feeling when every song sounded like two different tracks in one.

Instead, since 2011 when “Khaos Legions” came out, I have found myself drawn to their earlier material, where Johan Liiva was the screamer. “Burning Bridges” in particular is a gem of the band’s first 20 years’ history. But now, in 2014, we finally get a new knock-out with the sound that AE have been honing since the first years of the 00’s.

“War Eternal” starts off with a generic instrumental intro, not bringing much steak to the table, still (fortunately) not as cheesy as the intro on “Khaos Legions“. The first real song is “Never Forgive, Never Forget” and with it, we immediately get served guitar harmony overload and tremolo riffing galore, with double kicking and blastbeats alternately. Things slow down after the two minute mark for some nice soloing which transforms into a bridge and then a new solo, then back to blasting. Alissa makes herself known as a singer with an affinity for screaming rather than growling, and I like that a lot. The whole song runs out without ever losing its intensity (which was the problem with the whole last album) and when I first listened to it I thought that maybe, finally, Arch Enemy have released an album which holds up (un-spoiler: it does).

“War Eternal” (the song) is next and it is pretty anonymous for a title track, yet still great. On “As The Pages Burn” comes an annoyance though: Alissa really sound like she is trying to much. The vocals don’t kill the track for me, but at the least they give it an itch. But after that, all the songs are killer and I know you have already seen the rating at the top of this review, so you know what I think of the complete package. For full disclosure though, I want to say that it’s not Alissa’s vocals on track four that keeps “War Eternal” from getting a full score. It’s also due to the genericness of the instrumental tracks, which I find, on an album like this, to be completely useless. Still, “War Eternal” is the best Arch Enemy have ever been.

Air Guitar Album Of The Year 2014
Smurf Trophy: Alissa White-Gluz
Disband Of Brothers

Review by: MJ

Categorised as: MJ | Reviews

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