Friday, June 13, 2014

Arch Enemy – War Eternal

Not being a huge Arch Enemy fan, I figured that a change of singer marks an appropriate occasion to check out the band again. “War Eternal” is the first record with Alissa White-Gluz, and is a solid offering of melodic death metal for fans who appreciate Arch Enemy’s sound. While not overly familiar with a lot of their prior work, “War Eternal” is pretty much exactly what I expected. This style of melodeath has never been as convincing as the styles played by bands like Insomnium and Wintersun because Arch Enemy simply combines two contrasting styles: Iron Maiden melodies with harsh vocals. It sounds great in theory, but rarely works. That’s not to say this album is bad, but given the individual elements present on this album, it isn’t as effective as one would hope.

War Eternal” offers a few highlights throughout its 13-track journey. The first two come in the form of “Never Forgive, Never Forget” and “War Eternal”. Both songs have relatively memorable choruses, and the songs are littered with dazzling guitar work. Unfortunately, both choruses also sound extremely familiar. I’ve had some difficulty placing the first one, but the chorus of the title track is extremely reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s A Sin” (covered by Gamma Ray and later borrowed in a Revolution Renaissance song). It’s not too deflating to the album though, because White-Gluz’s vocals put an interesting twist on the melody. In fact, it makes for a pretty unique experience. The other standout moment on this album is “You Will Know My Name”. This is all-around the best song. The interplay between melody and death metal feels in no way forced, and the song leaves a lasting impact, which is something that cannot be said for most of the album. 

The remaining songs are largely what you might expect from this album: technically proficient, even with a bit of feeling, but largely devoid of anything worth returning to. There is no shortage of riffs on “War Eternal”, nor are the riffs bad. The guitar solos are magnificent, and White-Gluz’s vocals are more than competent. There is a constant pounding of bass drums, and a general tendency towards creating charging, energetic riffs. My apathy towards this album is more because of the style it’s in. I cannot see how any fan of the band’s prior work, or even bands like In Flames or Soilwork wouldn’t enjoy this album.

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"Never Forgive, Never Forget"
"War Eternal"
"You Will Know My Name"

Final Rating
3.5/5 or 70%. 

Written by Scott

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