Band: Arch Enemy
Album: Will To Power
Release Date: 8th September, 2017
Label: Century Media
Review by John
Arch Enemy have always been one of those bands who I would listen to, but never really take much notice of. Their albums frequently seemed to consist of a couple of decent tracks, which tended to get bogged down in the overall forgetful mediocrity of the rest of the material. I’d not listened to anything of theirs for a while, so I was somewhat taken aback by the fact that their set at Bloodstock last month totally blew me away. Chock full of power, fury and passion, it appeared that, with the recruitment of frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz, the band had finally found their feet. Needless to say, my hopes were high for ‘Will To Power’. Sadly, as the saying goes – it’s the hope that kills you.
As the cliched, instrumental sound of intro ‘Set Flame To The Night’ ended, I waited excitedly for the album to burst into life and recapture the magic of that epic Bloodstock set.
I’m still waiting.
Over the course of the 12 tracks, you would do well to keep your “metal by numbers” bingo card to hand, as you’ll be getting a lot of use from it.
‘The Race’ isn’t a bad way to start, chugging along with a slightly infectious groove, but, as the album goes on, you find yourself realising that it all pretty much follows the same formula and it quickly becomes repetitive and dull. With a sound that can never quite make up its mind as to what it wants to be, ‘Will To Power’ struggles horribly to find its feet.
‘The Eagle Flies Alone’ comes across as a poor attempt at melodic power metal, with the passionless vocals feeling utterly out of place as Gluz-White attempts to try and find a sound that works, while ‘Murder Scene’ at least does its part to save the planet, being as it is completely recycled from the Arch Enemy back catalogue.
It says a lot that the short, haunting and distinctly non-metal instrumental ‘Saturnine’ is one of the better pieces on the album, and even this goodwill is short-lived as the staid and weary sound of ‘Dream Of Retribution’ drags its decomposing carcass into the mix.
By this point, I was losing the will to continue, but managed to soldier on through the last two tracks, the moribund sound of ‘My Shadow and I’ and album closer ‘A Fight I Must Win’.
One of the things I always look out for in an album is a truly memorable closing track, and it’s fair to say that ‘A Fight I Must Win’ is halfway there. It is, at least, a closing track. Sadly, it is about as memorable as the last Amnesiacs Anonymous meeting I attended. ‘A Fight I Must Win’ manages the remarkable feat of being the most laughably bland and insipid track on the entire album, and ensures that things end with a prevailing odour of the finest fromage.
After my first listen, I was hoping beyond hope that the album was a grower, but, alas, after slogging my way through numerous times, it appears that this is definitely not the case.
Imagine being stuck in a room as an infinite number of Ken Barlows attempt to explain the finer nuances of the political speeches of John Major to you. That is about how boring’Will To Power’ is. It quickly becomes a chore to listen to, leaving the listener with the impression that the whole thing was as far from a labour of love as you can get.
With so many quality releases this year, you don’t have to look very far to get a lot more value for your hard earned money. As it stands, for me this is one to avoid.
Listening to it is not so much “Will To Power” as “Draining My Will To Live”.
01. Set Flame To The Night
02. The Race
03. Blood In The Water
04. The World Is Yours
05. The Eagle Flies Alone
06. Reason To Believe
07. Murder Scene
08. First Day In Hell
10. Dreams Of Retribution
11. My Shadow And I
12. A Fight I Must Win
Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/archenemyofficial