Review Summary: Arch Enemy maintain the status quo, and on and on it goes.War Eternal
if anything, should sound as convincing as it looks on paper for Arch Enemy. While it is increasingly clear that Michael Amott and his style are stubbornly unwavering, growing ever more rancid with each release, Nick Cordle--Ammot’s new side-kick--introduces little, if anything interesting or distinguishable when he quite possibly could have. Equally as certain to keep her footing is their new vocalist, Alissa White-Gluz who originally fronted The Agonist
until very recently. Blame my ignorance, or my diminishing interest for the band, but it made me ponder why I hadn’t been enlightened towards her contributions ‘til a brief procrastination session with the free encyclopedia, 20 or so minutes into my first listen. This is all unfortunate because unlike the countless other bands flagrantly promoting themselves as masters in disguise of the aging melodic-death contingent (some of whom are deserving of such titles), the instrumental competencies spread between Arch Enemy’s members are surely more than capable of producing material better than this; material that is not steeped in the confines of a style once definitive that is now easily pinned as completely derivative. Music that is not so stuck in the mires of stagnation but instead released within the halls of progress. Of course, this is all easier said than done, but Arch Enemy seemingly aren’t even trying, even if they profess they are. The typical mis-advertisements of new members injecting unrealised life into the band yet again salvage little of the remaining remnants of confidence I and many others now share for a band that can’t escape their own genre.
And so on and on it goes. Album after album of the same cloned collection of songs narrating the approaching doomsday and its contributing components of war, God and the government. The same melodies dripping with honey, built of the same harmonic minor scale fodder and of course guitar dueling for the sake of guitar dueling. Ah, but, you might say “this is Arch Enemy after all”. True. This is
Arch Enemy. The band whose insubordinate platitudes and stolen Megadeth
leads I could actually sit through without feeling obligated to cross-examine their discography for self-plagiarism. The band whose music, at some level, despite being incredibly contrived, was still chiefly enjoyable even at the elementary level. Now it seems that the only way to compose themselves out of trouble is to rely solely on the musical planets aligning. Namely, when they somehow, miraculously, manage to create a momentary chorus, bridge or other common musical device that can stand on its own two feet. These elements were essentially what I listened to Arch Enemy for: the distinguishable leads and near perfect harmonic accompaniment that thankfully aligned more than when they didn’t or couldn’t. On War Eternal
they’re incredibly unfortunate because this seldom occurs. It is so rare in fact that it is quite easily the worst pile of goop they’ve scraped from the barrel of regurgitated ideas that has been rolling for at least a decade now. Not a single piece stands out markedly above the others, except for perhaps "Avalanches" which actually manages to utilise strings and keyboards beyond the realm of utter uselessness. The instrumental “Not Long for this World” too contains areas of interest, particularly the strong theme it is built upon which sounds like a natural extension of the outro from 1998’s “Bridge of Destiny”. While the pieces disclosed here are perhaps the only real moments when those inescapable aforementioned stylisations align, it is likely every listener will find their own duo of brief personal attachments. So if you really feel compelled to hear War Eternal
, pick, at random, one or two songs, play them once and move on. Sadly thats as good as it gets.