Album Review: ARCH ENEMY War Eternal
When a band switches lead vocalists it always brings about a flurry of questions. Will the new vocalist be any good? Will they be able to live up to the band's past material? Will this new vocalist bring anything new to the table? With Arch Enemy’s new vocalist, former The Agonist vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, there was little questioning whether or not she’d be able to fill the big shoes left by former vocalist Angela Gossow. She came right out and answered all three questions with a big, reverberating yes.
This isn’t the first vocalist change for the Swedish veterans. The group switched members when Gossow took over for original vocalist Johan Liiva in 2000, solidifying them as one of the first female fronted powerhouses in the death metal genre. Gossow announced in March of this year she’d be leaving the band, however, but would still take part in the band on a managerial level. The big question at that point then was who would replace her. Such answer came in Canadian vocalist White-Gluz.
White-Gluz cut her chops with her previous group The Agonist. One of the original members of the band, she was with the band ten years and made three full length albums with the band before her departure earlier this year. It wasn’t just her impressive recording and live resume that helped solidify her as a strong replacement for the band, but also the fact that she was headhunted by none other than Gossow herself to take her place in Arch Enemy! If that doesn’t say something about White-Gluz’s ability to take the group to new limits than I don’t know what does.
With a new vocalist in place, Arch Enemy went into the studio to record their tenth studio album War Eternal. In their previous work the band has been known to bring a more melodic style of death metal to the field, and this release still keeps to that vibe. The band brings a symphonic spin on this album that does play throughout that gives it a very gothic feel, particularly in the introduction and intermission pieces, as well as in tracks like “Avalanche”. Like always, the band brings absolutely beautifully brutal guitar riffs, some of the best hiding out in tracks like “Never Forgive, Never Forget” and “No More Regrets”.
The question on everyone’s mind though of course is how does the vocal work stack up? Pretty damn well. White- Gluz’s style matches Gossow’s almost perfectly, and she brings a new level of dynamicism to the table. The band does pay homage to their previous style on this album, however little it’s actually changed, particularly on the style of “As the Pages Burn”. The tenth album of the Arch Enemy catalogue is a blend of new and old that brings familiar sounds together with new and exciting ones. Fans of the Gossow age of the band though need not worry; White-Gluz certainly keeps the soul of the band present in the vocal style she delivers.
War Eternal is a big release from legends in the field and completely demolished any concerns we had for the band prior to the release. The album carries a little more of a Doomsday Machine era feel to the album, but also carries some of the modern flairs the band set up in their 2011 release Khaos Legions.