Album Review – Will to Power by Arch Enemy (Century Media Records)

Will to Power is the 10th studio album from Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy. Will to Power was released on the 8th of September via Century Media Records. It is the first album to feature guitarist Jeff Loomis (Nevermore) who replaces Nick Cordle.

Arch Enemy have been through a few key line up changes in recent years. One is obviously the arrival of Jeff Loomis, a celebrated guitar superstar with Nevermore, now with Arch Enemy and with a successful solo career too. He has also featured on albums from bands such as God Forbid, Annihilator, Periphery, Ihsahn and Hannes Grossman to name just a few. Arguably an even bigger change came in the departure of much loved frontwoman, Angela Gossow. After 14 years in the band she left and chose Alissa White-Gluz as her replacement. Alissa was probably the closest to an exact replacement having performed a similar role in Canadian metal band The Agonist. Will to Power will be Alissa’s second album with the band having also featured on 2014’s War Eternal.

Alissa and Jeff are joined by founding members Michael Amott, on guitars, and Daniel Erlandsson on drums. Finally, on the bass we have Sharlee D’Angelo.

Will to Power

We checked out one of the singles from Will to Power a few weeks back. That song is called The Eagle Flies Alone and you can read our review of it here. Suffice to say it was an okay song – nothing too special.

Will to Power has 13 tracks on it, one of which is a cover of City Baby Attacked by Rats by punk band GBH. It is around 53 minutes long in total length. Unfortunately it follows the same story as the single with mostly uninspiring, safe metal that occasionally feels a long way from melodic death. That isn’t to say it is a really bad album. It isn’t. There are moments of enjoyment and there is enough here to please the seriously hardcore fans. As you would expect from such a talented array of musicians, their are some amazingly complex and intricate musical moments. There are tons of chunky riffs, complex drum patterns and virtuoso solos which make many of the songs exciting to listen to, at least in moments.

Set Flame to the Night opens the album as a sub 2 minute intro which is basically just a soaring solo over a siren. It sounds good and leads directly into The Race. The Race is a fast and furious track with a solid riff and great drums. The vocals are strong and aggressive and it is the purest melodeath track on here.

First Day in Hell is a pretty cool track with a gravelly, bass heavy intro tone that builds into a rip roaring metal track. Another one that is close is The World is Yours which has a great thrashy feel to the verses and intense drum speed. It switches to a cleaner tone in the choruses and is jam packed full of solos. Weirdly the soloing is awesome but gives the track a power metal feel at points.

Will to Power

There are a lot of tracks that have a power metal feel to them actually, but not in a good way. Reasons to Believe is one such track which also brings some clean vocals in a ballad style in parts. It sounds like a track that has been stapled together badly and despite the cool solos, they don’t feel like they fit the song. The same feeling comes through on Blood in the Water which has a nice bit if variation on the vocals in the intro but descends into some pretty bland pop rock/metal. There are solos – lots of them – and they are pretty neat but again feel a little out of place.

The focus on guitars here is obvious and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the way the songs are constructed feels off. The vocals are good but the lyrics are often stupid and clichéd. We have lots of “I go my own way” or “This is a fight I must win” and of course, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. The album as a whole doesn’t really flow either with a single message. Nine tracks in we get another musical interlude called Saturnine. Another excuse to show off some guitar skills but it is completely unnecessary. It precedes the messiest track on the album too in Dreams of Retribution. I really don’t like this one. It has 80’s pop rock sounding solos, weak lyrics and tons of synth and keys.

The power metal vibe comes back with full force on the final (non cover) track called A Fight I Must Win. In what is often quite a cheesy sounding albums, it’s seriousness seems a little off. It has a big orchestral intro leading into a guitar intro that goes on a bar or 2 too long. There are moments of good riffing and strong vocal delivery which then switches to a great battle metal sounding solo that seems to be from a different song. These style switches really make you lose interest and focus on songs. Just when you start getting into something it dramatically switches.

Will to Power

Will to Power is a highly polished, well mixed album with obvious attention given to the instruments. Particularly the guitars. There are bucket loads of talent in the band on all instruments and on the vocals but it rarely ever comes together into fluid and fluent songs. There are moments of excellence. A couple tracks, some mean solos, some chunky riffs and mostly wonderful drumming. The vocal delivery is also absolutely fine but there are real problems here.

The lyrics are dull and uninspired and the band seem to have become confused in what genre and style they play. That confusion comes through on many of the songs on Will to Power. They obviously have an exceptional guitarist on board but they need to make sure Loomis has the freedom to write within the planned direction of the band. Don’t just jam in solos for the sake of it. Unfortunately Will to Power is an example where Arch Enemy are not currently greater than the sum of their parts.

Will to Power is out now so make sure you check it out for yourself. It is available on all the usual streaming services and you can pick it up from Arch Enemy directly here. You can also pick it up, and more from Arch Enemy from the links below. Check out Arch Enemy on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more on them and their releases. Be sure to give them a like or follow while you are there.

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Will to Power by Arch Enemy (Century Media Records)
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