Another behemoth release from the current front runners in Swedish Melodeath. It’s the second release for these metal giants, with vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, and the first with new boy, ex nevermore legend, Jeff Loomis, on the strings.
Arch Enemy launch into their 10th opus with an absolutely mesmerising intro track, namely “Set Flame Into The Night” which is haunting in its own rights, with a melody which introduces Jeff nicely, with him leading the march, alongside the pure mastermind, that is Michael Amott.
“The Race” then grabs the listener, firmly by the throat and pummels them from one speaker to the other. It exposes the listener to their first assault of furious riffery and a refreshingly thrashy melody.
“Will To Power” is no doubt a behemoth of a record, yet it also opens the listener up to elements of symphonic metal, as well as some power undertones. These are majestic as they sit alongside the trademark melodic death which we have all come to love arch Enemy for.
Alissa’s vocals aren’t relenting in their ferocity and she beautifully harmonises alongside the blistering lead guitar solos which come rolling over the horizon, alongside some crunching bass and drum beats. Alissa sounds so much more powerful on “Will To Power” than she did on “War Eternal” and seems to have grown into the Arch Enemy family with blistering ease. “Will To Power” highlights Alissa’s clean vocals, which fans of “the Agonist” loved Alissa for, in the form of backing vocals on a couple of the tracks on show here. Yet the band seem to have set a bold statement by including their first ever “power esque” ballad “Reason To Believe” which sees Alissa mainly exhibiting clean vocals throughout. It is a complete change of direction, but one which works relatively well and I certainly hope to see more of this from the band in the future.
As well as massive vocals, the release also exhibits its fair share of fretwork, namely in the epic voyages of “Dreams Of Retribution” and “First Day In Hell”. The latter opening the listener up to a twin guitar assault, which has been expertly displayed.
No review of this release would go on without a mention of the awesome and devastating “The World Is Yours”. From the opening riff and Alissa’s gnarly growls, it is truly captivating with catchy choruses and Teutonic guitar work, from the solid steel spine of the rhythm, to the tympanic treat of the catchy solo, this one will have every toe tapping and every listener banging their head so hard, the local A&Es’s can expect an uprising in the cases of whiplash falling through their doors.
The album opens with an unremitting ferocity, yet injects beauty on all angles, whether it’s Alissa’s beautiful harmonics, majestic piano infusions, or even the brutal guitar duels, this delivers on all levels. The opus is finished off with closing track “A Fight I Must Win” which is phenomenal and will have the listener reaching for the play button, even before the track has finished ringing out, just so they can relive the whole event over again.
This, for me, is the album of the year so far, and I urge everybody grab a copy of this, and turn it up to 11, you will not be disappointed!
(9.5/10 Phil Pountney)