War Eternal is Arch Enemy’s tenth album and the first to feature Allisa White Gluz on vocals, since long term vocalist Angela Gossow’s departure from the band. The injection of new blood doesn’t do much to reinvigorate them though, and while not terrible, their latest effort is definitely an underwhelming one.
Alissa’s growled vocals are only decent, while there is a lot of passion behind her rasped growls, they are very one dimensional, and get rather stale over the course of the album. While their’s a certain viciousness to her voice, it’s all one deep raspy growl for the whole album, with little variation. While it’s not the worst growl in death metal, it’s still far from the best, and with many better vocalists out there, you have to wonder whether she was chosen on her vocal ability, or to keep up the appeal of their having a growling female fronting the band.
Musically it’s nothing special either, with riffs mostly consisting of dull chugs and overly melodic cheesy “hooks”. There are a few that rip, such as that killer pounding opening to the title track, but for the most part, they’re decidedly average. While not exactly terrible, there’s very few that are exciting or memorable through the course of the album. The problem extends to the lead guitar too, with Michael Amott playing his predictable saccharine scale runs, which for the most part sound dull and uninspired, not one solo from the album really shreds or has a sense of the epic. A few less solos, and more refinement on some of them might have yielded better results. The cheesy synths on Time Is Black only add to the saccharine cheese of it all, and thankfully they’re only present on a few songs. The drums only follow the music, and with little in the way of interesting fills or any intense blasting sections, as well as a squeaky clean production which takes the bit out of everything except the vocals, the whole thing just feels somewhat neutered, especially when the inaudible bass gives nothing in the way of any extra crunch, and Arch Enemy never get the chance to crush. It’s not a terrible effort, it’s not a good effort, it’s just kind of there, and definitely sits as the most average album of the year so far. The highlight is War Eternal, but that doesn’t say much.