I’ll start by being brutally honest and saying that I’ve never actually ‘properly’ listened to Arch Enemy. The times when they’ve been playing in my vicinity (Glasgow 2014 and Bloodstock this year), I’ve been interviewing and as a result haven’t had chance to see them live either at either location. So in a way, you could say that I’m going into this review completely unbiased one way or the other…
Opening up the album, the pairing of intro track “Set Flame To The Night” and “The Race” go incredibly well together. The former opens with a more traditional melodic guitar riff and building drums before “The Race” begins at a breakneck speed. If there was ever a perfect opening duet of tracks for a concert, these two would be more than worthy contenders.
Whilst the following collection of tracks, “Blood In the Water”, “The World Is Yours” and “The Eagle Flies Alone” can almost be considered cliché melodic metal, the little flurries from latest addition Jeff Loomis help break up some of the monotony and keep the tracks sounding fresh and tasty.
“Reason to Believe” is where things start to get interesting. In what I think is the first time in Arch Enemy, Alissa uses her beautiful clean singing voice which has been showcased in both The Agonist and Kamelot. Admittedly, I think she should use it more in the track and the transition to harsh vocals seems a touch forced, but it’s superb to hear her using more of her vocal range in the band.
Business as usual returns in “Murder Scene” which is somewhat of a more mid-paced affair than following track “First Day In Hell”. Both tracks stand equally on their own and the ending of the former in particular can be considered rather unusual in that it consists of the guitarists doing a ‘divebomb’ on their whammy-bars. An odd choice of ending, but in some ways fitting with the overall theme of the song.
Things calm down for just over a minute with instrumental track “Saturnine” providing some auditory splendidness (I know I made up that word) before “Dreams Of Retribution” steamrollers its way in with its more upbeat pace and layered guitars and ‘synth’ sounding additional instrument. I’m not overly sure what the name for the instrument is, but it breaks up the wall of guitars rather nicely for a couple of bars.
The last two tracks on the album, “My Shadow And I” and “A Fight I Must Win”, can be considered business as usual but again with small subtleties to vary them up. The driving riffs of the former and the symphonic elements of the latter help to make them that much more special and make for perfect penultimate and final tracks on the album. Out of the two, I arguably think the latter is a better song and has so much more going on than the previous track. Not to say that the previous track isn’t good, it’s not as special as “A Fight I Must Win”.
Admittedly on first listen of this album, it might seem as though it’s nothing new from Arch Enemy. I’ve lost count of the amount of comments I’ve seen online about how “They should be much better with that amount of talent in the band!” Well, whilst I must admit that there are some parts of the album where I thought there could have been a few more counter melodies or a few less repeats on some the riffs, overall it is a solid album. Sure, it takes a few listens to fully get into it and hear a lot of the individual subtleties of each track, but in my opinion a good album is like that. You have to take time and actually listen to the album to get what it’s about as opposed to just dropping in here and there and only listening to the tracks you like.
Standout tracks: The Race, Reason To Believe, Dreams Of Retribution, A Fight I Must Win
Will To Power is released on September 8th via Century Media Records.