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It's just OK - 68%

andreipianoman, October 23rd, 2017

I was pretty hyped about "Will to Power" after the first single was released but I have to admit I had my doubts and for good reason. Arch Enemy haven't changed their songwriting style too much throughout the years so it was inevitable that they would eventually put out some disappointing material. And I guess that moment is here. This band has shown some impressive stuff throughout the years but this I'm afraid, is going downhill.

I don't mean to say that it's a particulary bad album but it's not a good one either. And I think they really made a bad choice by releasing the best song on the album as a first single because it created some pretty high expectations and then hearing the full album was just not living up to them. There are some cool riffs and melodies that get your attention. And it gets you headbanging from time to time. But they don't really say anything with this music. In the past you could feel the anger, the rebellion and the passion put in those notes. But "Will to Power" just doesn't cut it anymore. It feels like they just released it because the label wanted it. They don't have anything to say.

There is one good asset to this album. The solos are very impressive, especially the ones written by Jeff Loomis, proving serious guitar playing skills. I find the leads in The Race quite enjoyable and impressive. "The Eagle Flies Alone", "Blood in the Water" and "The World Is Yours" are also some of the better songs on the album. I was also quite pleasantly surprised by the use of clean vocals on "Reason to Believe". The rest of the songs I'm afraid we're just put in there to fill up the time and get another album out. I don't find anything intersting or worth mentioning about them. They're empty.

So the album isn't entirely boring. There are some cool stuff every now and then and if you're a fan of a Arch Enemy you will probably enjoy it but to me it seems rather useless since it's pretty much the same as their past albums but lacking in passion and credibility. Maybe Michael Amott's creativity has been consumed.

A tad bit uninspired... - 80%

Vaim, September 14th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Century Media Records

I don’t think there’s a single self-respecting metalhead that hasn’t at least heard of Arch Enemy. The melodic death metal band from Sweden has delivered quite some great songs that ended up becoming metal classics. Not too surprising considering the magnitude of the combined forces of the band members, you could almost call this a super group… They definitely set the bar in the genre and especially with an empowering and ever impressive Angela Gossow they have risen to the top and still are up there. This is the 3rd year that Alissa White-Gluz is fronting the band, growling her lungs out at the many always impressive shows of this touring machine. This year brings also the second release with her on vocals and the first for Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore) as second guitarist: 'Will To Power'. Being one of the most looked forward releases of the year, especially by their fans, we just had to give this a spin.

After a short instrumental intro, we stumble in to 'The Race' and here we get what Arch Enemy are so well known and loved for. Blazing death metal guitars pushed forward by the pounding drums, poured over with a sauce of melody and hooks. Alissa proves from the first track on what a skilled vocalist she is and growls her way through the lyrics with a certain grit and ferocity. Their first single 'The World Is Yours' accomplishes much the same, for me personally it’s the one track that sticks the most to my head for sure. It’s heavy, but at the same time in the chorus they add a layer of more power metal feeling melody that just burns this song in my grey matter. Despite the rather cliche lyrics, the song carries a message of empowerment and positivism you wouldn’t immediately expect from a band like this.

And that brings us to what most likely will be the most talked about song of the album: 'Reason To Believe'. Mostly because of it featuring clean vocals by Alissa almost throughout. I have mixed feelings about this: the song actually sounds pretty good and the vocals damn powerful. That was sort of to be expected if you’ve heard what Alissa has done before vocally for The Agonist and Kamelot. It’s just really weird to hear a band that is so well-known for their sometimes heavier than heavy music come with what you could call a (power) ballad for them. I’m curious to see what they might do with clean vocals in the future still. This was definitely a good little taste of what could be possible on this level.

For those who aren’t a big fan of what just took place, it seems like they want to reassure you. 'Murder Scene' kicks in with a rumbling bass, being the interlude for the guitar shredding and drum beats taking you back to that classic Arch Enemy sound. The lyrics are also on a whole different level here, just like on the highly interesting and almost evil sounding down tempo 'First Day In Hell'. That would be one small piece of advice I’d want to drop: maybe let Alissa write the lyrics for a few more songs than just half of them. Because no matter for all the musical talent and skills you possess, Michael Amott, writing lyrics isn’t really your forte compared to what she produces.

Whatever you want to say about Arch Enemy, one thing is sure: their music play is damn great and the vocals are as always top as well. There are just some songs that don’t seem to stick, they don’t get me totally excited. A bunch of the tracks are pretty great and will do well live for sure, just a pity that not the whole record puts down the same quality and memorability. 'Will To Power' will probably please a lot of metal fans still and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time completely. But just like the occasional blockbuster I watch, I don’t feel the need to go through it again completely any time soon. I’ll pick out a few tracks and at least we know that live they’ll keep on kicking ass and taking names…

originally published on www.grimmgent.com

Alright Mike, it's time for some changes - 48%

PorcupineOfDoom, September 10th, 2017

Frankly I had written off this album before it had even been released. War Eternal was poor - the worst that the band had ever done, in fact - and the two singles released before this album, 'The World Is Yours' and 'The Eagle Flies Alone' were of a similar standard. Though as a whole Will to Power is an inoffensive listen it certainly doesn't compare to Wages of Sin, Doomsday Machine or Rise of the Tyrant.

Obviously one of the main topics of debate is the vocals. I'm not a fan of Alissa's really, at least not when it comes to her harsh vocals. She sounds so flat and lifeless, with nowhere near the power or fury that her predecessor Angela Gossow possessed. She hasn't changed at all in her approach since War Eternal, yet somehow she grinds my gears more on this album than the last. Perhaps it's because she actually gets to show off her cleans here and there this time out, mostly on 'Reason to Believe'. That's where her talent lies, in actually singing rather than the boring cookie-cutter shite that for some reason Michael Amott seems reluctant to ditch, being the creature of habit that he is. If he thinks that the fans are going to throw a hissy fit and boycott his music because there are some cleans mixed in with the growls that make up 95% of the vocals he's sorely mistaken. I'd much rather that Alissa was given free reign to play to her strengths rather than being forced to potter along in second gear like Mike has been doing for the past ten years.

While we're at it, let's mention Jeff Loomis. Even to those that haven't ventured far into his other material his name is instantly recognisable, and for good reason. The man has ideas and talents the like of which Arch Enemy has been lacking since Chris Amott called it quits. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a fan of Michael Amott and in his prime the guy was incredible. But he's not exactly been setting the world alight with his songwriting of late, and it's been ten years now since Rise of the Tyrant, which was the last AE album to be received relatively positively. Yet he insists on writing everything himself so that the project retains that distinct Michael Amott sound. Since his brother Chris's departure prior to War Eternal this has become increasingly noticeable, and as the objectively more talented half of the duo perhaps he was the mastermind that was keeping Arch Enemy at least somewhat interesting. Had Loomis been given his opportunity to give some feedback and add a couple of new directions to the album then perhaps this album wouldn't have been as formulaic and predictable as it is. One can only hope that next time Mike is slightly more open to a little creative input from the rest of the band.

I have to admit however that Will to Power is a step up from War Eternal. It's not fantastic, not even close, but the album is listenable and easy to digest from one end to the other. By and large the verses are fast, thrashy and aggressive, a hark back to some earlier (and better) Arch Enemy works. Honestly the riffs aren't anywhere near as bad as I'd anticipated, and even though there isn't much progression from the start of each song until the end I'm quite happy to have it there in the background while I'm doing something else. Some changes of pace or a little variety wouldn't go unnoticed, but as a whole it's fine. The verses particularly stand out as being consistently decent if not quite as furious and powerful as I'd like them to be. The choruses though tend to be where most of the songs go downhill. It's as if Mike just got halfway through each song and then decided it wasn't quite cheesy enough, so decided to throw in the most boring, cliche and downright cringey leads he could think up. The first single 'The World Is Yours' is probably the best example of this on the album (as well as showing off exactly how formulaic the writing has become), as the song starts off decently with some solid, thundering riffs that indicate something bigger is looming in the distance. Yet when it arrives I'd rather the band had just kept teasing us with the build up forever. The guitars move up an octave and the high-speed power riffing gets coated over by a lame-ass, feeble lead. There's no force to it, nothing to grab the listener's attention. If anything it would just prompt them to switch the song off. Really it's about the most generic power metal/melodeath lead that you could possibly come up with. Copy and paste the verse and chorus again, then chuck in a stale and predictable couple of solos, fade to Alissa whispering some bullshit about rebellion and finish by playing the chorus in a higher key. Rinse and repeat on every song on the entire album and voila, you have the next AE album. It's a shame in a way because the breakdown that follows the solos is actually fucking class, which I don't get to say very often regarding breakdowns. Strangely enough that's the kind of inspired moment I want to see more often, something unexpected that's executed far better than it ought to be.

There isn't much to say regarding the drumming or the bass. Sharlee is a solid enough bassist but for the most part his work goes unnoticed, buried beneath the guitars for all but a couple of minutes of the album's run-time. Give him a chance to show what he's got and he'll deliver, as he does in the brief sections where the rhythm guitar takes a break, but the rest of the time he might as well not even be there. In contrast to this Daniel's drumming is always there or thereabouts, rhythmically plodding away somewhere in the background. He's consistent and gets the job done, yet also incredibly unspectacular. In a way he too is coasting along, with nothing on Will to Power showcasing his true ability. It's been a while, sure, but this is the guy that used to play songs like 'Pilgrim', 'Machtkampf', 'I Am Legend' and 'Lament of a Mortal Soul'. When did the fills become so bland, the blast beats so slow and infrequent? Maybe you could blame Mike's writing and say it's constricting him or whatever, but I've come to expect more from his playing than what we're served up here.

If you couldn't be bothered reading those ramblings, allow me to summarise. I suppose across the board there is room for improvement. Alissa needs to be given more freedom to include passages of clean vocals, although at least Will to Power is a start in that respect. She isn't as good as Angela, but at least she isn't as godawful as Johan Liiva. Loomis needs to be included in the creative process or else there's no point in him being there at all. But most importantly, Michael (and to a lesser extent Daniel) needs to stop coasting and actually produce something that isn't by-the-numbers, cliche and tired melodeath. The individuals involved in this project are capable of so much more, but even on an LP that fails to deliver they do have some great moments. 'Murder Scene' is genuinely a satisfying listen, 'Dreams of Retribution' has flashes of the Daniel Erlandsson of old, Alissa's cleans throughout are implemented very successfully, the intro and chorus of 'A Fight I Must Win' are fantastic, and I even enjoyed the aforementioned breakdown on 'The World Is Yours'. If Michael wakes up and realises that we want him to challenge himself then I have no doubt Arch Enemy could produce another great album to add to their catalogue. Whether he will wake up is another matter however, and though I keep my fingers crossed I won't get my hopes up.