Angela Gossow is, without a doubt. one of the most influential women in the metal scene. She set an example for countless young girls to step out of the well-established stereotype that women do not belong in extreme metal and inspired them to go beyond irritating soprano wailing. When she decided to step down as the front-woman of Arch Enemy, it was clear that there was no one better to replace her than Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist), a charismatic singer who had herself been inspired by Angela‘s work.
The transition was smooth, with the band revealing Angela’s departure, her replacement and premiering the video for the title track in a single week. The move was well calculated, and allowed the audience to get over the change as smoothly as possible. The response was overwhelming, with the video getting a millions of views on Youtube and praises from all corners. Despite the complexity of replacing someone like Angela, it seemed like people were ready and willing to accept the change.
Alissa’s outstanding performance is, of course, responsible for the praise. She made sure to prove that she was much more than a pretty face, going as far as demonstrating vocal skills that might even surpass those of Angela. Her style is impressively versatile, ranging from Emperor-ish screams to dynamic metalcore and deep, death metal growls. Her vocals are also produced in a way that does not tweak their sound too much, focusing more on her massive raw power.
As far as songwriting goes, War Eternal does not deviate from the formula the band established back in 2003 with Anthems of Rebellion, delivering some outstanding and catchy tunes, although a bit generic and predictable at times. Still, Arch Enemy are well known for the diversity of their output, and War Eternal continues that trend, including elements of modern death, symphonic, power and traditional metal. The album also pays tribute to the Gothenburg melodic death scene, with hints of Hypocrisy and In Flames.
The musicianship is impeccable, with Daniel Erlandsson (drums) and Sharlee D’Angelo (bass) laying a solid foundation for guitarists Michael Amott and Nick Cordle to deliver a torrent of face-melting guitar harmonics. Nick Cordle, formerly of Arsis, also makes his studio debut on War Eternal, and the great chemistry between him and Amott is evident in tracks like “Never Forgive, Never Forget,” “As The Pages Burn” and “No More Regrets.”
Even though the metal world has never been known for being forgiving towards new members, this album has proven to be the exception to the rule. It’s too bad that the addition of two new members failed to bring a lot of fresh elements to Arch Enemy’s somewhat stale style. In a way, War Eternal is just the album we were expecting – with or without Angela.[signoff predefined=”Signoff 1″][/signoff]