Alissa White-Gluz has pipes and Deceivers is the record that perfectly showcases them. Beginning with the opening track, "Handshake with Hell," we get to hear Alissa's dynamic range in all its glory. Whether she's growling in the traditional Arch Enemy style we all have grown to love or she's outright clean signing as she does here, this is the Alissa that many have been waiting for. "Handshake with Hell" is a strong statement whereby she throws it all down and puts it all on the table. As a decades long fan of this band – THIS is what I've been waiting for. The sharp contrast between the clean and the dirty is what takes a really well written and makes it great and there is little doubt that "Handshake" is one of the best metal songs of 2022.
"In the Eye of the Storm" gives us some serious Gothenberg vibes. Not only does the melodic nature of the track harken back to the glory days of the Swedish metal scene, the guitar leads and riffs are going to remind listeners of bands like In Flames and the striking tone they put on the map. The pre-chorus here is as thick and juicy as a delicious cauliflower steak and gets you hooked oh-so-fast. The video, however, gave me some Star Wars Episode II vibes with all the CGI and the water, but judge for yourself. Thankfully, there's no appearance from Jar Jar Binks.
Fantastic songwriting and production is all over Deceivers and this quite apparent in "Sunset Over the Empire" (I so badly want to put another Star Wars reference in here) which is essentially a clinic in how to craft a near perfect four minute extreme metal song. There's melody over a pulsating and solid low end, lead guitars flying everywhere and a frigidly captivating chorus most metal bands can only dream of. Not to mention the strategic break inserted for some live up-in-the-air fist-banging. And I might be known to bang a fist or two at Arch Enemy shows.
Deceivers is a rather uplifting record that is more beauty than darkness. The key here though is that band keeps it's edge. There is a sense of freedom, pride and escapism in what the band has presented here and that's most apparent on the mesmerizing "One Last Time" that's just full of big energy and big sound. Again, the band gives us a wide range of affect and sound on top of sound without being overbearing. The craftsmanship is not just in the hooks and the leads, it's also in the details, like the way Sharlee D'Angelo fills out the sound with his bass during the solo here or the Alissa really hits the melody with her voice.
The closing track, "Exiled from Earth" has some brilliant leads from Jeff Loomis that adds a great deal of texture and vibrance. Anthemic and accessible, like most of this record, I can see this being a great closer for the live show as it both seems to wind things down and leave you wanting more at the same time.
Deceivers is Arch Enemy's strongest record in the Alissa era without any doubt and, at least for me, it has really re-sparked my interest in the band with a great deal of zeal and vigor. There is absolutely zero filler on Deceivers. None. Every single track on this record is a winner. I unabashedly and enthusiastically can't wait to hear these songs live and I can't seem to stop listening to the record. If I have one criticism for Deceivers it's that I want to hear more of Alissa's clean singing. We get a taste here but I believe this band benefits from a heftier serving of her vocal chops.
Overall, for those of you still stuck in the past or who think certain members are "underutilized," I guess you can continue to enjoy complaining on the internet. The rest of us, however, will be feverishly headbanging to this tremendous new offering.