Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It wasn't all that long ago that Swedish melodic death metal juggernaut Arch Enemy were being hailed as the next greatest thing in the world of 'guitar-centric extreme metal' with their blazing twin guitar attack and venomous growls of female vocalist Angela Gossow. However, after a few lackluster releases and both guitarist Christopher Amott & singer Gossow leaving the band, Arch Enemy have had to regroup with hopes of recapturing their former glory. War Eternal is the latest release, and sees new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz (ex-The Agonist) and guitarist Nick Cordle (ex-Arsis) joining the fray alongside guitarist Michael Amott, bassist Sharlee D'Angelo, and drummer Daniel Erlandsson.
Unfortunately, the new blood doesn't exactly bring anything 'new' to the table. Sure, there are still plenty of sizzling hot guitar solos to be found here, as on scorching cuts "As the Pages Burn" and the catchy "No More Regrets", both of which showcase the supreme chops that Cordle brings to the mix as he fires off one scalding lead after another alongside Amott's Michael Schenker inspired fretwork. Other than some cool riffs & solos (it wouldn't be an Arch Enemy album without them), I'm not finding a lot of really memorable songs here on War Eternal. Alissa for her part does a serviceable job, but her growls are fairly generic and have even less personality than Gossow's, who wasn't a great vocalist by any means but she did have a signature style. "Time is Black" is one of the better tunes on the album, with some cool keyboard bits adding a prog/power metal vibe to the otherwise brutal arrangements. I'd love to hear this band do more of this type of thing, which takes them almost into Scar Symmetry or Mercenary territory.
Overall, War Eternal is not a bad album by any means, but it doesn't quite hit the mark of albums such as Wages of Sin, Doomsday Machine, Rise of the Tyrant or the early albums with Johan Liva in the vocal slot. Guitar-wise, it has a lot to offer, just like any Arch Enemy album, and while Alissa White-Gluz isn't going to set the world on fire with her vocal performance here, her style does fit the band, though don't expect any of the melodic clean vocals that she contributed to The Agonist. Decent stuff, but you have to wonder if Arch Enemy's time to reach the pantheon of metal has already slipped them by.
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1. Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F Minor) 01:12
2. Never Forgive, Never Forget 03:43
3. War Eternal 04:21
4. As the Pages Burn 04:01
5. No More Regrets 04:05
6. You Will Know My Name 04:37
7. Graveyard of Dreams 01:10
8. Stolen Life 02:58
9. Time Is Black 05:23
10. On and On 04:05
11. Avalanche 04:38
12. Down to Nothing 03:47
13. Not Long for This World 03:29