REVIEW: Arch Enemy – War Eternal (Standard Edition)

Posted: July 4, 2014 by arkayem1 in Review
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It is the dawn of a new era for Arch Enemy. The Melodeath vets are back with War Eternal, and introduce their third vocalist Alissa White-Gluz (ex-The Agonist) with it. This album is the ninth installment in the bands career all of which featuring a non-singing female lead vocalist. Alissa brings with her crisp growled vocals and an impressive 3 to 5 octave singing range, but only one of those makes an appearance.

'War Eternal' was released June 4th, 2014 via Century Media Genre: Melodic Death Metal

‘War Eternal’ was released June 4th, 2014 via Century Media
Genre: Melodic Death Metal


Rather than dive right into the brutality, the album opens with the orchestral number Tempore Nihil Sanat. The track is short but serves as a “calm before the battle of the black water” moment. The mood is ominously serene and peacefully saunters up to an abrupt halt at the end of it’s one minute and twelve second stay. It is after this that the album actually kicks in much to every metal heads delight.

As if on cue the monstrous blast beats and Iron Maiden-esque harmonized guitars destroys the any serenity established with Never Forgive, Never Forget. From there on, and for much of the album, it is the quintessential metal-core/Melodeath brutality you’d expect from a Gluz fronted outfit. Few songs on this album present a chance for Gluz to actually to show the true duality her arrival had the potential to bring to Arch Enemy. When the chance presents itself, however, it is dutifully ignored. Case in point is the flying chorus of No More Regrets where one could easy imagine a powerful and soaring vocal line sung above the harmonized arpeggios.

The halfway point of the album strips it down to an instrumental in Graveyard of Dreams. This track is another strikingly beautiful instrumental that seems to have ended up as a stand alone track as opposed to appearing as a mere introduction. In fact it seems as if the only thing that prevents such a thing from happening is the lack of drums. If drummer Daniel Eriandsson had found himself on Graveyard, it could have easily been to the sub-three minute Stolen Life what the opening of You Will Know My Name was to that track.

Time is Black comes in with a catchy power riff following a dainty stripped down intro. From then on, it is business as usual until the album closer (in the Standard version of the album) Not Long For This World. This track is the third instrumental in the album and is the heaviest by far. Aside from a random sample of slowing heartbeats and a heart monitor that never flatlined, the track is a powerful close to a rather peculiar album.

Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz (ex-The Agonist) was announced as Arch Enemy’s new lead singer in March of 2014. She replaced the band’s former vocalist Angela Gossow who is now the band’s business manager.


Unfortunately the standard edition of the album features absolutely no cleanly sung vocals, much to the delight of death metal purists everywhere. This is a huge let down considering the melodic prescience Michael Amott (guitarist) worked into the album, and the vocal abilities their new lead singer possesses. The album itself, for all it’s wonderful orchestration, lacks a clear and consistent movement from start to finish. As opposed to flowing together effortlessly, riffs can tend to feel like they’re pandering to the obligatory metal brutality that must be present at all times…or else.

While the record doesn’t break any new ground, it is still a solid offering. Long time fans will undoubtedly be split on Alissa White-Gluz’s performance, but she holds her own as she has done for a while as the former front woman of The Agonist. Given the strong use of orchestration and the touches of neo-classical chord progressions, fans of Symphony X and Masterplan may have something to latch onto here. In any case those who enjoy modern Melodic Death Metal and/or the ever hated Metalcore will have enough to enjoy in War Eternal.

Album Picks: No More Regrets, On and On, Not Long For This World

Rating: 3.5

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