Rating: 7 out of 10
Released in September 2017
Arch Enemy, the great Swedish melodic death metal band founded in 1995, has pulled off a feat that few other bands could do. The band started with Johan Liiva (ex-Carnage, Furbowl, Devourment) standing out front. In 2000, Angela Gossow took over vocalist duties and held the mike for 14 years. In 2014, Gossow stepped back to become the band’s manager and was replaced by former The Agonist vocalist Alissa White-Gluz. So, Arch Enemy replaced popular vocalists, not once, but twice. Not only that, but they found not one, but two chicks that can growl with the best of them. The transition from Gossow to White-Gluz was smooth and most fans have accepted Alissa into the Arch Enemy fold.
23 years and 10 albums bring us to Will to Power, a polished and well-crafted melodeath metal album with catchy tunes and crushing riffs. Will to Power gives us what we expect from Arch Enemy and then adds some new stuff that’s kind of cool. After the smooth intro Set Flame to Night, the album invades your head. Songs such as The Eagle Flies Alone, The Race, Blood in the Water, and The World is Yours are melodeath call-to-arms anthems. Moving on, Dreams of Retribution and First Day in Hell continue the assault on your senses by the guitar-slinging of Arch Enemy newcomer Jeff Loomis, formerly of Nevermore.
The vocals on this record are amazing! Alissa’s growls have gotten stronger with each record she’s on, especially on the back-half of this album. This part of the album includes songs such as A Fight I Must Win and My Shadow and I, and explores darker themes of revenge and personal struggles. Alissa demonstrates that she is a double threat in vocals when she sings clean on the song Reason to Believe. I’ve heard the rumblings from die-hard Arch Enemy fans, but, come on! This song works because of the powerful chorus and wide-open clean vocals from Alissa that make you throw up your rawkfist and sing along, even if it’s under your breath.
My one complaint about this album is that Arch Enemy added Jeff Loomis from Nevermore, but didn’t fully use his skills. In addition to his blistering guitar work, Loomis was Nevermore’s main lyricist. Even with his impressive, Arch Enemy did not use his songwriting skills on this record. That seems to be a miss to me, one that I hope that they will correct on the next release.
Even with that one complaint, this is a solid album that’s a good listen. The moves that they have made and the risks taken show that Arch Enemy seems to be embracing evolution, even though they are now 20 years in. Let’s hope that they continue to evolve in a more dynamic direction.
I am Mark Morris and I don’t dance – I headbang! I am a longtime metalhead, going back to the early 80’s. I love all types of metal – classic, power, thrash and death metal are my favorites. I love conversation with interesting people and I can be found on Twitter at @marknotjohn. Rock on!