Getting a new singer is probably one of the hardest transitions a band has to go through. While a band’s sound is obviously an amalgamation of every member, the person behind the mic tends to set the tone and when that changes, there is every possibility that all hell will break loose.
When it was announced that Angela Gossow was stepping down as lead singer of Arch Enemy and ex-The Agonist frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz was taking over I didn’t know what to think. As one of my favourite bands part of me was worried what the change of singer would mean for the band. I know Angela took over vocal duties from Johan Liiva in 2000, but for someone who was merely 10 years old at the time and was introduced to the world of metal at the age of 12, Angela was always synonymous with Arch Enemy.
While at first I was hesitant, I then thought this might be a good thing. After enjoying every album with Angela it was unfortunately getting to a point where maybe the band needed something new. A fresh idea. Some new life. So with that logic getting Alissa on board could only be a good thing? Well, that all depends on who you ask.
Fans were weary of Alissa joining. Comparing the vocals of The Agonist, many were concerned that those clean vocals would now find their way in an Arch Enemy record. Those fans can sit safely in their homes with the knowledge that War Eternal features no clean vocals. Her voice isn’t as rough as Angela’s but aside from a slightly cleaner growl, the difference is almost non-existent.
Arch Enemy found their core sound long ago, and while I for one am a fan of said sound, they have spent several albums and many years sticking to it and doing very little to add some variety. With Alissa now on board and Nick Cordle taking Chris Amott’s place in 2012, one couldn’t be blamed for thinking that War Eternal would feature something different. But instead it sounds like any other Arch Enemy record, as if Chris were still shredding with brother Michael and Angela were still out the front. The difference is just noticeable, and feels like Alissa is trying too hard to just be another Angela, rather than adding anything of herself into the mix.
With that said, the album is still good. If you just wanted another Arch Enemy album with nothing to shake up the status quo, well this is it. There is no mistaking it for anything else, and you get the tried and tested Arch Enemy sound you know and love. Musically, “Time is Black” and “Avalanche” are probably the only tracks that offer something different, but again with Alissa’s best imitation of Angela going on, they still could have been on any record of the past 13 years. There are no album stand outs, and there are no letdowns either. The album just is. It’s an Arch Enemy record. Fans fearing a change of that core sound need not worry. If you’re a fan of the band, then you’ll love this album. If you perhaps were hoping for some change, even just a little, well you’re out of luck.
War Eternal is just as good as any other Arch Enemy album. I don’t hate it. I just was expecting something…new.