Arch Enemy – Deceivers
Released: August 12, 2022
Michael Amott – Guitars
Alissa White-Gluz – Vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – Bass
Daniel Erlandsson – Drums
Jeff Loomis – Guitars
I first discovered Arch Enemy, and consequently melodic death metal, in early 2000. During my uni days I would frequent Sanity in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall to see what their resident metal guru Paul Haug was recommending. One day it was Arch Enemy’s Burning Bridges, the new band of former Carcass axe slayer Michael Amott. Powerful vocals from Johan Liiva and precise drumming from Daniel Erlandsson topped it off. And thus started my interest in the Scandinavian death metal scene. Fast forward to 2001 and the new Arch Enemy drops. It’s only after I check out the liner notes that I realise they not only had a new singer but she fucking ruled and, wait, it was a she? I had never heard someone roar with such fury and passion as Angela Glassow. I’ve loved them ever since.
Thank you for indulging that little anecdote, but I know you’re here to find out if the new Arch Enemy album is any good. Good is fine for other bands, but Arch Enemy don’t go “good”. Arch Enemy do PURE FUCKING METAL and they do it to the highest standard possible. With Canadian Alissa White-Gluz now fronting the fellas for the third time, can this band of scene veterans live up to both the legacy and the hype?
Hell yes they can.
If you have followed the release of the 6 pre-release singles then you are undoubtedly as excited about this release as I am. It does beg the question as to whether the band fired their best shots early but I can assure you that the rest of the album lives up to the promise shown by ‘Deceiver, Deceiver’ when it dropped in late 2021. That track is the most immediate thing here and is a shot of pure adrenaline with some insane picking on those rhythm guitars from Amott and Jeff Loomis. The chorus is gigantic and, when accompanied by pyro, will set festivals on fire. Certainly a worth companion to past live faves like ‘Nemesis’ and ‘We Will Rise.’ Opener ‘Handshake with Hell’ is a stunner, a blinding collection of death metal riffs and melodic leads, with Alissa moving effortlessly between the guttural verses and clean sung bridge. The chorus is the same kind of epic singalong that will be familiar to long time fans and will have everyone chanting “Buy me a lobotomy!” There’s a tremendous slow section before the solo with Alissa’s voice just about a whisper as she signs her deal with the devil. It’s a great showcase for what she has brought to the band in terms of broadening their sound. ‘In the Eye of the Storm’ is another live ready track, slower tempo with a great guitar harmony and thumping drums from Erlandson, who gets a co-write on this one. Lyrically it fits alongside past efforts like ‘Under Black Flags we March’ as an anthemic call to arms, a staple of Amott’s output.
Now, what about the tracks they haven’t released? Like I said earlier, they don’t disappoint. ‘The Watcher’ is full blown Arch Enemy thrash. I’m not afraid to admit this one hurt my neck and I needed physio the next day. There’s a nice melodic harmony solo but then it’s just shred ‘til your face melts. It ends with a weird synth outro that segues into the orchestral opening to ‘Poisoned Arrow’. Amott chimes back in with a solo and the band joins him for a stomping death metal jam, with classic metal style leads. If it wasn’t for White-Gluz growling over it, you’d be not far wrong thinking there was an Iron Maiden tribute happening here. As a duo, both these tracks show the scope of what Arch Enemy can do at a range of tempos.
I don’t think I need to say much about ‘Sunset Over the Empire’ and ‘House of Mirrors’, two other tracks that have been out a while now. These songs fucking rule. ‘Sunset…’ is a thumper with power metal influences on the bridge, and a crowd chant section for the true believers that will get the blood pumping. ‘House of Mirrors’ is seriously gorgeous, with the lead playing the same progression as the vocal melody. Listen carefully to Amott throughout, dude is playing leads the whole time. White-Gluz sounds phenomenal too.
Despite releasing five singles, there’s still some gold to get excited about. That gold is ‘Spreading Black Wings’, a truly epic song that the band has always had up their sleeve. It’s bleak and doom filled with “HEY” chants and a ton of drama both musically and lyrically. It fades to keyboards and orchestra with choral voices bellowing to the end. It’s not quite as immediate but no less thrilling and has a great hook. Guitar playing aficionados will get a kick out of the prog influence on ‘Mourning Star’, the latest in a long line of instrumental solos. It serves as some respite before the rampaging ‘One Last Time’, a song that admittedly feels a little bit stock until White-Gluz uses her speaking voice for the bridge, before the massive unclean chorus. Clean vocals are used sparingly to add colour to different songs, rather than feeling like an inevitable part of every song.
Arch Enemy have always dabbled in a gothic interpretation of melodic death metal, especially visually, and that comes to the fore in ‘Exiled from Earth’. It kicks off with a synth line straight out of Stranger Things, moving into a melodic stomp with a sci-fi influenced lead that really suits the lyrics. There’s a slower tempo more befitting of goth metal but combined with the lead it’s a potent mix of musical references that makes for an epic closer with war drums ending the album.
If you are reading this as a preview and haven’t heard the album yet, get on it. Put it on loud and play some wicked air guitar. Deceivers is a killer album that is worthy of the Arch Enemy legacy and is a demonstration of their continued firepower. This is the best album with White-Gluz out front and the fellas sound as razor sharp as they did when I first heard them in ‘99. Even the few stock standard moments are full of energy that will destroy stages worldwide and the standouts are amongst the best death metal songs of 2022.
Arch Enemy – Deceivers tracklisting:
1. Handshake With Hell
2. Deceiver, Deceiver
3. In The Eye Of The Storm
4. The Watcher
5. Poisoned Arrow
6. Sunset Over The Empire
7. House Of Mirrors
8. Spreading Black Wings
9. Mourning Star
10. One Last Time
11. Exiled From Earth
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