Swedish melodic death metal band ARCH ENEMY are a household name and for many good reasons, the excitement for their 10th studio album, Will To Power has been outstanding and the reception of the released singles prior have been showing that this album is going to give fans what they want. It is the first album to feature Jeff Loomis and the first to feature clean vocals, signalling that the band are open to experimenting a bit more.
As the album opens with instrumental track Set Flame to The Night it is clear that it is going to turn into something that will completely tear the place up. The Race and Blood in The Water both have that vibe that makes you feel pumped up, ARCH ENEMY are talented at making music that gives you that feeling but Will To Power feels as though it’s packing more of a punch earlier on.
One of the standout things with ARCH ENEMY is always the guitar work, Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis exceptionally together. This has already been proven with their live performances but hearing it for the first time on a studio album they bounce off each other with such extravagance. As said, one of the standout things in the band is the guitar work, it really hits home and catapults the mood of the sound toward perfection and Will To Power certainly has some beautiful riffs and solos on it, ones that will make songs memorable and become staple in their career.
Leading back to the experimentation in sound, Reason to Believe is the first song the band have done that features clean vocals on and essentially taken a step back from that full on melodic death sound. If anything, the song is that of a hard rock anthem and it may or may not grow on fans but it’ll certainly be a divider and whilst it’s not a bad song, it’s just not an ARCH ENEMY song. In some parts, it does have that vibe but mostly it feels as though you’re listening to a HALESTORM song that just gets heavier in some parts. The placement of the track is also a disappointment, it’s slap bang in the middle of the album and breaks up that feeling you get when listening to the band – perhaps the story would be different if it was a closing track. It’s understandable to see where they were going and what they were trying to achieve but it hasn’t gone the way it could have done, once again though it’s certainly a song that divides fans and will potentially show more in the future, it’s a bold move and that must be honoured in some ways.
Aside from Reason to Believe, the rest of the album goes on like an absolute storm. Murder Scene really gets the blood pumping again and delivers one of the best songs from the band in a good few years. First Day in Hell follows suit, it opens slower than others but it’s eerie and gets you in the mood of what is about to come, it almost sounds demonic and the sound fits the title superbly, it’s almost soundtrack like and makes you envision yourself listening to this song on your real first day in Hell.
A beautifully short instrumental unfortunately falls a little behind production wise in what could be a stunning intro into Dreams of Retribution where once again the guitar work just flows in effortlessly. There’s simply nothing more wonderful at times than classical music being introduced into the metal world, especially melodic death metal as it just incorporates something simplistic and elegant into absolute chaos and to get that to bond together only showcases the talent of the musician and it certainly shows in this song. Despite the downfalls, the talent in ARCH ENEMY simply cannot be overlooked.
Closing Will To Power is A Fight I Must Win and at just under 7-minutes song it is set for an epic showdown. It’s not one of the strongest songs on the album but as a finisher it is stunning and closes everything down to leave you feeling complete that this is the work ARCH ENEMY have delivered this time around.
It is without a doubt that Will To Power is an album set for being held highly in terms of their career and establishing the places of Alissa White-Gluz and Jeff Loomis even further but it cannot be ignored that it’s also an album of a few disappointments. It was expected that there might be some downfalls to the album, especially with experimentation but the level of the disappointment with that was a bit too much – perhaps as said, it could show potential in the future but for now it is lacking. ARCH ENEMY have created an absolute banger of an album, it’s got moments of sheer brutality and beauty but most definitely isn’t the greatest they have done.
Will To Power is out September 8th via Century Media Records
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