The sound of a band idling in neutral and going nowhere

Even as a long-time Arch Enemy fan, it’s been difficult to ignore the slide in quality and invention that the Swedish five piece have been suffering for most of the past decade.

Having long ago established their core sound, they have done virtually nothing to step outside of that safety zone since taking on Angela Gossow at the beginning of the century. Fourteen years on, Gossow has stepped aside for a virtual clone, The Agonist’s Alissa White-Gluz, and the band continues on as before, only this time running on almost zero inspiration. White-Gluz has a slightly more ragged edge to her vocals than Gossow’s over-processed death roar but apart from that (barely) noticeable aspect, War Eternal is completely interchangeable with any of the last three Arch Enemy albums. Indeed, there’s even less memorable songs than Doomsday Machine and far, far less of that jaw-dropping shredding that set Rise of the Tyrant ablaze. If things weren’t bad enough, Daniel Erlandsson turns in the flattest, most lifeless drumming display of his career. It sounds like he could hardly be bothered, but he’s not alone. Apart from ‘Time is Black’ which unleashes an intensity that this band hasn’t shown for an aeon, and the singular display of guitar histrionics in ‘Down to Nothing’, War Eternal has almost no highlights, an album well-nigh bereft of artistic vision or creativity. War Eternal is the sound of  a band idling in neutral and going nowhere.

1. Tempore Nihil Sanat
2. Never Forgive, Never Forget
3. War Eternal
4. As the Pages Burn
5. No More Regrets
6. You Will Know My Name
7. Graveyard of Dreams
8. Stolen Life
9. Time is Black
10. On and On
11. Avalanche
12. Down to Nothing
13. Not Long for This World