REVIEW: ARCH ENEMY – “Will To Power”
For the past two decades, and through three different vocalists, Arch Enemy remains a force to be reckoned with in the metal world. At this point in their career, they’ve dabbled in pretty much every facet of metal. From pure death metal, to crushing black metal and even adding some symphonic elements, few bands out there can hold a candle to what they do. With the shocking announcement in early 2014 that long-time vocalist Angela Gossow would be stepping down from the band to assume a position managing bands, fans began to get nervous. However, with the release of ‘War Eternal’, the first album to feature new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz (ex-The Agonist), it was clear that the band had chosen correctly. Now, nearly three years removed from that release, they return with their tenth studio album, ‘Will to Power’.
“Set Flame to the Night,” the album’s intro track, does a great job setting the atmosphere, slowly fading in with a simple, yet memorable guitar melody led by new guitarist, Jeff Loomis (Nevermore) and long-time guitarist Michael Amott. The way that the melody slowly crescendos, before Alissa’s vocals hit the listener with full-force is something to be admired. Something I quickly noticed about this album is that, for the first time in a long time, there is a lot of focus on the guitars. Whether it be solos, riffs or guitar harmonies, they are prevalent throughout each track. Another thing to note is how well White-Gluz’s vocal style has progressed since the release of ‘War Eternal.’ While that album was incredible, the difference between it and ‘Will to Power’ is night and day. Not only have her screams improved but they’ve increased in ferocity. In fact, there are moments throughout the album, where I had to check and make sure that it was still her! Most impressive is how beastly her growls have become, truly shaking the listener to their core.
I’ve noticed that several people complained of ‘War Eternal’ sounding monotonous at times, making them feel as they were listening to one long song. While this works, on some level for bands, Arch Enemy has never been one of those. I will admit, returning to listen to that album, there are moments where it feels that way. However, with this album, there is something fresh offered with each and every track. Fast-paced and aggressive when it needs to be, incredibly emotional when it calls for it and relentless to the end, Will to Power will put all who doubted the band’s new line-up to the test.
A certain ambience is created with each track, but especially tracks like “The World Is Yours,” “The Eagle Flies Alone” and “Saturnine & Dreams of Retribution,” a near eight-minute, aural experience that keeps the listener guessing at every turn. It features several tempo and genre changes, starting off slow and building the hype as it progresses.
The final track on the album, “A Fight I Must Win,” contends for one of my favorite Arch Enemy tracks of all time. The reason for this is because, while the guitar tone is a bit cleaner (for the most part), it still finds a way to hit you, just as hard, as if it were a more aggressive track. There’s definitely some heavy parts to this track but the way that the music conveys emotion, makes it a go-to for me on this album and creates a perfect home as the closing track.
Arch Enemy has never sounded more comfortable, cohesive or as good as they do on Will to Power. They’re out to prove that they’re far from done, despite the many setbacks that tend to befall them. Will to Power will be released on September 8th, via Century Media Records.