War Eternal review by Arch Enemy

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  • Released: Jun 10, 2014
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 7.8 (44 votes)
Arch Enemy: War Eternal
4

Sound — 7
Arch Enemy originally formed in 1996, originally intended to be a supergroup. In reality, the band was more of a solo project for Michael Amott in the beginning. As time went on, there were some line-up changes and the band because more of a "traditional" metal band. Angela Gossow replaced the original vocalist for the "Wages of Sin" album in 2001, which finalized the band in a lot of ways for several years. The exception would be Michael's brother, Christopher Amott, who left the band previously on a temporary basis to get his life right (reading between the lines it was almost certainly drug or alcohol problems), and then more recently he left on a permanent basis and was replaced by Nick Cordle since 2012. Angela Gossow "stepped down" (whatever that means), though she is remaining as the band's business manager, and has been replaced by The Agonist vocalist, Alissa White-Gluz. Interestingly enough, she was initially gonna front both bands but apparently The Agonist didn't like that idea, as they replaced Alissa with a relatively unknown female vocalist. "War Eternal" is the ninth studio album by the band and has 13 tracks that clock in at approximately 48 minutes. There were 3 singles released for this album: the title track, "War Eternal" was released in March 2014, "As the Pages Burn" was released in April 2014, and "You Will Know My Name" was released in May 2014. Both "War Eternal" and "You Will Know My Name" were released along with a music video.

"Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F Minor)" opens the album, which is essentially an instrumental track with some chanted choir-type vocals coming in the second half of the track. It is a very melancholy light track, which makes the next track, "Never Forgive, Never Forget" feel a little bit like getting slapped in the face when it comes in. The next two tracks are the title track, "War Eternal" and "As the Pages Burn," two of the singles from the album. They both give a great summary of the album in and of themselves as they completely capture the spirit and execution of the album. Aggression, melody, and Alissa's vocals. "No More Regrets" is a fast track with a lot going on with the guitars and great use of the two guitars in the band. Up next is the single "You Will Know My Name," which seems like it should have been written by Alissa (as a new member of the band), but this was actually Amott and Cordle (I guess Cordle is a new member, too). "Graveyard of Dreams" is a lot more about ambience than most of the album and is completely instrumental. "Stolen Life" does some interesting stuff with vocal processing, as well as having male backing vocals during parts of the track - which calls to mind the short little stint where Christopher Amott was providing backing vocals for Angela back in the day. It wasn't a bad idea then and it sounds good now, but I'm not sure which one of the other members is providing the backing vocals. "Time Is Black" is slow to get started, but it makes up for it when the heaviness comes in. I really gravitated towards a lot of the rhythm parts of this track - good stuff. "On and On" is one of the few tracks where the bass seems to be mixed at an audible level on the album, but this is probably one of the best tracks for Alissa's vocals for me. "Avalanche" has a pseudo-classical feel to the intro, and has some very catchy guitar lines for most of the track. "Down to Nothing" has some of the most successful use of melody from the album. "Not Long for This World" opens up with an interesting drum riff and a melody that truly stands out from the rest of the album, and this is also a fully instrumental track (and in my opinion it is at least as good as "Graveyard of Dreams").

Lyrics — 8
Alissa White-Gluz has some big shoes to fill in replacing Angela Gossow, but she definitely has started out strong. Vocally, they are probably a match in pure aggression, but Alissa does seem to enunciate just a tad better than Angela in later years, which is really crucial with screamed/growled vocals. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some from "As the Pages Burn" which is credited to Michael Amott and Alissa White-Gluz: "As the pages burn/ secrets can't be unlearned/ silence can't be unheard/ knowledge is burden/ power is onus/ as the pages burn/ your memories fade/ freed from the gap of reality/ rejecting cognition/ as the pages burn/ sinking in a pool of ether/ the past is washed clean." As another example for contrast and comparison, here are some vocals from "You Will Know My Name," which was written by Amott and Nick Cordle: "their judging eyes watching me/ it's all I've ever known/ when I try to open up my heart/ I am ridiculed and torn apart/ your damn jokes I'll never get to hear/ behind my back at my expense/ there's something inside me/ and I know it's good, I'm not evil/ just misunderstood." You can definitely tell that Amott is the single thread running through both sets of lyrics.

Overall Impression — 7
I wasn't always a fan of the way the album is mixed. In some ways it seemed like it was sonically neutered, or over-produced on certain tracks. It was frustrating for me to the point where I tried some creative EQ'ing which helped - to an extent. Call me old fashioned but I don't think metal should sound too pretty - it should be a little bit rough around the edges, it should sound aggressive and loud. This is the only real weak point in the album for me. I thought the songs were well-written (all the songs credit Michael Amott as the writer, with about half of the tracks co-written with other members of the band), and the musicianship was immaculate and impressive. Practical application of a lot of fancy guitar-work. Daniel Erlandsson is as impressive as always behind the kit, and Sharlee pulls his own weight, even if he's a little lower in the mix than he should have been. My favorite tracks are the instrumental tracks ("Graveyard of Dreams" and "Not Long for This World") and I was also quite fond of the track "Stolen Life."

45 comments sorted by best / new / date

    sdbrown89
    Top quality album, a little on the safe side for me, but this is to be expected with a new singer. Not all that much between the vocal sound to my ears, but this is a solid album, and I can't wait to see Alissa perform the old songs live!
    axeslinger0u812
    I thought the Agonist were consistently getting better, and couldn't wait for the new album, but then all this tomfoolery happened, and both bands are weaker for it. Alissa has gone from being one of the more versatile singers in metal, to just another growler, and the Agonist is now using a lesser replacement.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Yeah, I was rather annoyed when this all happened. I mean, I'm more annoyed for the Agonist. But I'm disappointed that Arch Enemy didn't use Alissa's clean vocals. She has such great cleans.
    MikaelSnow
    They didnt try do anything new at all or use Alissas range of vocals , they just made her sound like Angela so bit disappointing :/
    Masta' Exploda'
    I wished she had used her awesome clean singing on the album, some songs would've been less boring.
    jaybrink10101
    I agree. I don't want 50/50, but would it have killed them to include some clean vocals in like, maybe a bridge and a chorus in the album? Despite all the 'CLEAN VOCALS AREN'T BR00TALZ' stuff that goes on in the MDM scene, Alissa can sing pretty heavy, and I'd enjoy having a few vocal melodies out of left-field to build on the songs. Cutting out half Alissa's talent for the sake of forcing her to sound like Angela is stupid.
    sdbrown89
    not to force her to sound like Angela, to ensure the new Arch Enemy album sounds like Arch Enemy! I bet if you asked the arch enemy fans that go to shows, they would never ever want clean singing on the albums, its meant to be melodic death metal, so leave the clean singing out of it!
    JimDawson
    Arch Enemy has been one of my favorite bands since about 2007. Maybe it's just my changing tastes, but I found Khaos Legions and War Eternal to be rather disapponting. I like just about everything else this band has put out though. It seems like Arch Enemy is copying itself nowadays; a lot of the riffs on this album sound like modified versions of older ones. For example- the similarities between Burning Bridges and Not Long for This World.
    GenerationKILL
    What I find strange was that Arch Enemy re-recorded a bunch of old songs that their original singer did with Angela. Now she's left. Does that mean they're going to re-record the re-recorded recordings for a new record? lol,
    inlpwetrust
    Alissa is really good, but the music is not as fun as the old albums.
    Lancer506
    Idk, this album had some pretty fun and original moments. I dislike the singles most, check out track 2 and track 12.
    Wynand014
    Arch Enemy was definitely my favourite band at a stage,mostly cause of Angela's Vocals. But have to give credit to Alissa, it's better than I expected
    DaBlackDahlia16
    I thought it was surprisingly good. Definitely one of their better albums, could even be the best imo... It's the same old Arch Enemy sound but it feels fresh and more refined. I also think the new vocalist sounds great. People can call it a gimmick all they want but she gets the job done.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Have you heard their older albums, offhand? Their '90s stuff is great.
    DaBlackDahlia16
    Of course. Huge fan of these guys. But I'm not going to compare this album to stuff they did 15+ years ago. I do think the quality kinda dropped a bit with Angela on the past couple albums but I feel like they really picked it back up with this album.
    Sakke
    To me, the quality is just a little bit higher than Khaos Legions but lower than Rise of The Tyrant... Root of All Evil wasn't exactly a new album.. just new takes. Now.. I would say that I haven't listened to this album in full, but it would beat that by a mile. I think Root of All Evil was a slaughtering of old songs. Some of the versions sounded nice, but most of them felt like forced. I like the Silverwing redo only thanks to the guitars.
    dmsp1954
    Eh not terrible. I like the music itself, I'm not too huge on the vocals. I feel like they could be cleaner and this could be a lot better. But I mean hey not a bad band nor album. I wouldn't exactly recommend this but I wouldn't really throw it away. Solid middle for me.
    Abacus11
    Ammott is a KILLER metal guitarist. For a long time, Arch Enemy was the closest you could get to Heartwork -era Carcass melodeath. I haven't listened to Arch Enemy in a few years but I'm curious to check this one out.
    Peres.T.Peanut
    More of the same really. Arch enemy have been releasing singles with 9 similar songs attached to them for years now.
    justfang
    I was a big fan of The Agonist, but I expected it to be worse. I agree with the review, it's kinda average.
    dfin13
    I think it's amazing that she doesn't even need a mic to be heard over the guitars and drums -- leaves both her hands free to do some serious posing. That's some powerful voice!
    BwareDWare94
    I still prefer their original vocalist, 10 times out of 10.
    Sakke
    If you mean Liiva, I agree with you. I mean, the man wasn't a stage performer, but his vocal style was so good.
    Lancer506
    The only album Liiva did well was Burning Bridges, and he preformed that spectacularly.
    Dude475
    This album is really really boring. The vocals sound too forced. Much prefer older material from them and Angela on vocals.
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    every single i've heard seems to have potential, but the execution inevitably feels stale and/or safe. maybe overly clear mix has something to do with it, because when you break it down, a lot of the great songs from their earlier albums weren't a whole lot more complex than this.
    Campbell22
    wack ass band
    peachesenregali
    I'd vote up on this a thousand times if I could. Absolutely shite band. That second track was embarrasing.
    link no1
    Look at me, I'm going to go onto a review of a band I don't like to tell people I don't like the band.
    Elintasokas
    Why have vocals like this? The music doesn't sound even aggressive so I don't understand why they these screaming vocals. The vocal style doesn't add anything to the music.
    Perfect for this kind of music, useless for Arch Enemy.
    Rick_Kala
    I really like the album. After 3 full listens I started to really get into the new singer as well. The title track War Eternal is my favorite song from this release.
    TauSigmaNova
    Im a new fan of Arch Enemy, this being my first album of theirs. I'm not much for more extreme metal and not a fan of screamed/guttoral vocals or arch enemy's old stuff but this album is awesome. I love it start to finish and its either my number 1 or 2 of 2014. Killer riffs, good melodies, and even the vocals are pretty good. Has my vote.
    sam165
    Why is everybody making a big fuss about the vocalist? This is Michael Ammott's band, his guitar playing is the main point of Arch Enemy. Plus, this is a guitar website, focus on the guitar please.
    \,,/Slayer/,,/
    Overall I think this is a great album!! Who is going to see them on the N.A tour with Kreator!?!?!?