ARCH ENEMY – War Eternal
One of the toughest things in metal these days to keep under wraps is lineup changes. Thanks to the flood of instant communication tools, cell phones, and social media/ internet connections, band members need to guard these events like the Secret Service or Fort Knox for fear of rumors and false information. So let’s just say when Arch Enemy’s vocalist switch occurred with Angela Gossow stepping down (she will still manage the band) and The Agonist singer Alissa White-Gluz gained the slot, the band quickly put out their first single from "War Eternal" to allay any fears the fervent fan base may have of dissension in the ranks.
"War Eternal" comes at a time in the band’s career where many believe this Swedish melodic death metal need to shake things up a bit- their style comfortable but a tad bit predictable. Their 10th studio platter does just that and a little more, the 13 tracks reaching back throughout all eras of their history to give the fans an effort that should appeal to extreme fans as well as those who love those large guitar hooks and strong musical riffs that have been an Arch Enemy trademark in this style. The shred worthy, neo-classical laden leads come to the forefront on the speedy "Never Forgive Never Forget" and stomp worthy anthem "On and On", while history comes into play circa their "Burning Bridges" and "Stigmata" era for the thunderous title cut and triplet thrill ride "Down to Nothing". Alissa uses most of her guttural growly range, punctuating things in extreme screams and echoes that will convince most that the band has not lost their death edge in the slightest. Check out the softer intro that transfers into a highly melodic guitar line for "You Will Know My Name" as well as the sinister, almost theatrical "Avalanche" for two of her most memorable word deliveries.
Arch Enemy excel at the art of keeping things heavy and memorable – the melody coming from the music, while the vocals can be brutal and extreme as to keep the band firmly in the ‘metal’ field. "War Eternal" represents the third incarnation of Arch Enemy and I feel they stay the course as one of the leaders in the melodic modern death metal field. Kudos for the doom/cultural riff that sends closer "Not Long for This World" out with devil sign authority.