Arch Enemy
War Eternal


2.5
average

Review

by BlissfulIrony USER (5 Reviews)
June 9th, 2014 | 18 replies | 2,161 views


Release Date: 06/10/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Times Have Changed. Not Really.

Since the release of ‘Khaos Legions’, an album steeped in deepening mediocrity, it was expected of Arch Enemy to make one or two changes to re-establish their paling relevance. A fluctuation in line-up notwithstanding, the band’s 2014 release ‘War Eternal’ still feels tired and formulaic despite efforts to revitalise their sound. Whilst not as criminal as its predecessor, the album smacks of missed opportunity and a failure to diversify or substantiate. With only a smattering of highlights and a lack of the improvement necessary to draw a broader audience, it is hard to recommend ‘War Eternal’ or to justify its place in Arch Enemy’s catalogue.

Alissa White-Gluz, formerly of The Agonist, never quite manages to make the album her own despite a capable vocal performance. Unlike Angela Gossow’s influence on the redefinition of Arch Enemy’s sound in ‘Wages of Sin’, a lot of the tracks to which White-Gluz has lent herself seem bland and uninventive. Opener ‘Never Forgive, Never Forget’ and the title track suffer particularly from this, being quietly inoffensive despite misplaced attempts at bite. Others, such as ‘Stolen Life’, are jarringly familiar, demonstrating an unwillingness to radically change structure or composition. Amott’s writing has worn itself into a rut; few of these songs share in the band’s earlier dynamism.

On occasion, forays into electronics and keyboards, as seen on ‘Khaos Legions’, create confusing clashes of sound. ‘No More Regrets’ feels incoherent, its chorus muddled and without a vocal hook. ‘Time is Black’, whilst one of the better tracks to be found here, is marred by faux-orchestral overtones that partly complement, partly detract. It is difficult to see what Arch Enemy were aiming for here, especially considering it was not accompanied by any real use of White-Gluz’s potential for clean vocals. Considering the rest of ‘War Eternal’ is largely by-the-numbers, these elements feel misplaced, as if the band was unready to commit to incorporate them fully. The instrumental interludes and intro also jar with the flow of the album, the latter especially being a pretentious, pale attempt at atmospherics that was ultimately unnecessary.

However, ‘War Eternal’ does have its points of interest. Second single ‘As the Pages Burn’ may not be particularly original, but it does succeed in exhibiting how Arch Enemy’s slightly harder leanings can work. ‘Avalanche’ is also reasonable, although it is followed by the acutely torpid instrumental ‘Down to Nothing’, which closes the album on a decidedly low note. ‘You Will Know My Name’ has a catchy melody, if one that is a little clichéd, and has a chorus that is prime for live performance. Unfortunately, these highlights are few and far between, not enough to distinguish Arch Enemy from their contemporaries in an increasingly competitive scene.

To conclude, ‘War Eternal’ is a constructive movement forwards when compared to its predecessor and does demonstrate limited willingness to diversify Arch Enemy’s sound- however, when compared to the band’s back catalogue in its entirety, the album fails to offer enough meat to justify trawling through its largess of filler. Although a scramble up the walls of creative depression, ‘War Eternal’ is not sufficient to convince the band’s disillusioned fanbase and, in the broader scope of things, may see Arch Enemy continue to slide into irrelevance and obscurity.


user ratings (134)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
Brendan Schroer (1.5)
All of modern melodic death metal's worst traits are wrapped up in a bitter package known as War Ete...

Jake C. Taylor (1.5)
Arch Enemy maintain the status quo, and on and on it goes....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rastapunk
June 9th 2014


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hell no

Rastapunk
June 9th 2014


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well written though!

FiveLeavesLeft
June 9th 2014


9838 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

This album is so goddamn dull and boring

InFlamesWeThrash666
June 9th 2014


1190 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'll never understand why this band is so famous..

Digging: Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain

BlissfulIrony
June 9th 2014


2 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, this was a disappointing listen. Seems like this band will never manage to achieve anything above 'average' any more.

zaruyache
June 9th 2014


6428 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

It's not a bad album by any means; it's just painfully boring and by-the-books for this band. A big step up from their awful last album, but still not inventive enough to justify any higher rating. They really need to teach that old dog some new tricks.

Digging: CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe

Madbutcher3
June 9th 2014


1135 Comments


I'm not sure why Mike writes music anymore. Guy from Arsis that he's got is way better at solos too

KriegdemKriege
June 9th 2014


1046 Comments


"This band is so goddamn dull and boring"

ftfy

Nice short review, pos

XingKing
June 9th 2014


10563 Comments


Truly awful band that has done nothing but pump out garbage for the past 10 years

zaruyache
June 9th 2014


6428 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Rise of the Tyrant had some good riffs and great melodies. Rest is love/hate.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2014


16387 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

this album is terrible, it is 13 tracks of literally the same exact thing

glad people are finally realizing this band is a waste of time

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

zaruyache
June 9th 2014


6428 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I had hope that the new blood would bring in some new ideas, but it seems like even with the little changes Alissa did bring it, it's still the same worn-out music they've been doing for forever. Hopefully on their next album Alissa gets a bit more say in the songwriting department and they give her atmospheric cleans a bigger role.

Rastapunk
June 10th 2014


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't know, it might be because I'm not found of the heavier stuff from death bands but this album is pretty good! I really liked the classical influence too!

zaruyache
June 10th 2014


6428 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Do you even melodeath bro? There are dozens of melodic death metal bands that are leagues ahead of this mediocre tripe. Try out Wages of Sin or Burning Bridges by this band. Or:

Insomnium
old In Flames
At the Gates
Dark Tranquility
Dismember
Edge of Sanity
Be'lakor
Amon Amarth
Hypocrisy



tubadude007
June 10th 2014


10 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I'm more interested to see what the next album is going to be with Alissa more comfortable.

Diamondize
June 10th 2014


1367 Comments


I'm more interested in the new Agonist than this tbh

Digging: Dead Can Dance - Within the Realm of a Dying Sun

zaruyache
June 11th 2014


6428 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Me too. New girl seems just as competent, if not better.

Rastapunk
June 11th 2014


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Death or Melodeath isn't my primary choice of metal but this is more accessible. In the future I might love Death (love the band though :D). On this album I love the first half and then there is the second half with almost nothing memorable just average. The bonus is awesome though, a very nice cover of Mike Oldfield.

I will try your suggestions though, I've listened to the new Insomnium too, it is pretty good.

I'm one of those guys that doesn't need that guttural growl, actually Alissa's voice on this is perfect for me (but that can change, who knows...).

I'm also pumped for the new Agonist!



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