ARCH ENEMY - Will To Power
September 6, 2017, 10 months ago
First impressions are everything, thus it boggles the mind why the Arch Enemy braintrust would kick off the all-important pre-release promotion for Will To Power with a safe melodic-death-by-numbers track like "The World Is Yours". Not a bad song by any means, but certainly not the ear-rending ass-kicking required to make fans think "I need to have this album now!" It's a trademark Arch Enemy track loaded with the bells and whistles the diehards want to hear, it sits well on the album, but "The World Is Yours" is standard fare, too much so to make any serious impact.
Will To Power isn't going to make folks who are still pining for the return of Angela Gossow or Johan Liiva happy. Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz is in the driver's seat for her second Arch Enemy outing, laying down her own brand of vicious. Lead-off track "The Race" - which should have been the first release just to scare the fuck out of people - is a faster, uglier, dirtier version of "Silent Wars" from Anthems Of Rebellion, kicking things off with some of Alissa's heaviest vocals to date. She shines on "Murder Scene", "A Fight I Must Win", "First Day In Hell", but "Dreams Of Retribution" and "My Shadow And I" is where she delivers on a whole new level. A tip of the hat for the clean vocal bits that turn up here and there on Will To Power, particularly on "The Eagle Flies Alone" and "Murder Scene", which are brilliant nuances, but including the clean vocal-powered ballad "Reason To Believe"... sorry, it's just not Arch Enemy and probably should have been earmarked for Alissa's forthcoming solo album.
Musically, Will To Power is a step up from predecessor War Eternal in that it's more immediate and somehow less dense, as if Arch Enemy aren't trying as hard this time out to make a point. There's a better flow and the songs are definitely more memorable, some of them digging their hooks in even after a single listen thanks to guitarist Michael Amott's head for riffs and melody. Speed also plays a major factor on the record. Some folks will say guitarist Jeff Loomis' (ex-Nevermore) talents are wasted here as he clearly wasn't involved in the actual songwriting - as they lack his frenetic shred lord approach - but the solo interplay between Loomis and Amott overall is super sweet ear candy. With that in mind, "Dreams Of Retribution" is Will To Power's cornerstone; over six minutes of everything Arch Enemy does best when they go for broke. Speed, solo shred, riff magic, crushing vocals, tempo changes, melodic breakdowns, unexpected twists and turns.... the sort of thing the diehard fans would like to hear more of as opposed to keeping things "safe" with anthems like "The World Is Yours".
Haters will scoff at the rating above, but as a fanboy Will To Power has become more enjoyable with each listen despite the glaring promotional misstep and the ballad.