New Arch Enemy album, Will to Power, is finally out and what could I say? Great and easy melodies, great instrumental part, great vocals, great execution, great production, great pop structures (if you know what I mean :P)… There’s only one problem, the same one problem that Arch Enemy is been dragging the last decade: complete lack of any kind of progression or innovation in their sound. A band once inspirational and influential turned into an old band that has nothing new to say. Because this new album sounds pretty like War Eternal, and War Eternal pretty like Khaos Legions, etc., etc. Even the addition of new members to the band hasn’t changed this tendency, which is fairly surprising.
From the first track, Set Flame to the Night, the main problem is obvious: it reminded me a lot like Khaos Overture, so much that I thought I was listening to the wrong album. The Race brings the harshest side of the band, brutal and melody-absent, while Blood in the Water is more melodic and have powerful guitars. But still, it seems to me I listened this tracks before, over and over, in their previous works. The World is Yours leaves me as cold as it did when it was released on July, and the foolish lyrics don’t contribute to fix it, something that I could also say of The Eagles Flies Alone.
At last here comes a track that contains some innovation: Reason to Believe the first song in Arch Enemy’s history that features clean vocals, something that it’s justified given the nature of the introduction, soft and melancholic, undoubtedly beautiful. I don’t like the whole song much, but variations are always welcome and with its slow rhythm, works well as ballad. And then, the song that for me is the absolute highlight of the whole album: Murder Scene. Guitars are just superb, melody and rhythm are insane, and there’s nothing more to say, you’ll have to listen to it. First Day in Hell have a great introduction and verses, starting soft and calm and breaking the peace with an explosion of rage. Saturnine is a beautiful intrumental interlude, in their usual style for this kind of tracks. Dreams of Retribution starts presenting us an awesome and sad melody in an insane introduction and first verse that I absolutely loved. This track is somehow innovational, so that I thought I was attending to the inception of a new genre, something like death-power metal. But those keyboards sounded like Nigthwish in the 90’s, so Arch Enemy is twenty years late. Another point is that, in a six minute long song, they’re incapable of leaving easy structures for something more complex. My Shadow and I doesn’t add much to the whole asides of keeping the epic tone, and I could say is a filler. Finally, A Fight I Must Win incorporates classical elements mixed with epic metal, and although everybody seems to have liked this song, the truth is that it leaves me cold because I’ve already heard a lot of tracks like this.
War Eternal (2014) seemed to me more fresh and passional than earlier releases, so that I thought that next albums will follow that path, but Will to Power has proved me wrong. Although in some tracks it’s clear their intention on making new experiments, these efforts are timid and not enough. And that’s one this work remains one of the bunch. Maybe next time they release a Will to Progress.
Of course, thumbs up for Alissa’s great work at vocals, as always.