I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Arch Enemy. Formed in 1995, their first two albums featured vocalist Johan Liiva and were crushingly heavy. The arrival of Angela Gossow provided the band with not only a vocalist of ferocious talent and one of the most distinctive female death growls in the business, but also a figurehead for their music.
Arch Enemy – Deceivers (Century Media Records)
Release Date: 12 August 2022
Words: Paul Hutchings
For me, the band’s peak under Gossow was 2007s Rise Of The Tyrant. Her departure in 2014 was a shock, but by then my interest was more observational and Alissa White-Gluz’s arrival merited acknowledgement without really putting much effort into the band’s music. The album that followed, War Eternal was decent, but I had little time for Will To Power.
Five years since that album, Arch Enemy are now bringing their 11th full-length to their massive fan base.
The line-up remains constant, with White-Gluz once more joined by founder member Michael Amott, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo, guitarist Jeff Loomis and drummer Daniel Erlandsson. Deceivers was written in 2020 and is as big and bold as you’d expect from one of the Metal world’s biggest hitters. Although the band faced the same challenges that any band with an international line-up did during the pandemic, the fact that Amott and Erlandsson were in Sweden at least allowed them to continue meeting and writing, thanks to the Swedish government’s different approach to restrictions.
Deceivers brings 11 cuts of prime Arch Enemy with a couple of twists. Opener Handshake With Hell sees White-Gluz bringing her devilish roars but interspersing them with some clean vocals, bringing a new dimension to the song. The complete change in tempo two-thirds of the way through is another deviation from the blueprint and sees the band stray into semi-symphonic territory, albeit only briefly. It’s a powerful song to start the album with Loomis and Amott trading solos and the engine room blasting along with ease. And maybe it’s the comfort zone feel that fires an early warning shot.
Recent single Deceivers Deceivers is delivered with a high pace and some crunching riffs, although the chorus is rather predictable. Ultimately, it’s a bit of a throwaway track, with little to genuinely excite.
In The Eye Of The Storm is next, an anthemic yet melodic stomper, which sits in the same style as countrymen Amon Amarth. This is a song that is destined to be an arena favourite, with the customary melody in the breakdown instantly recognisable. It’s suitably huge sounding, but there is something missing to fire the spark. This is Arch Enemy by numbers rather than throwing fire in your face.
Track four brings a bit more of what I was looking for. There’s an explosive drive on The Watcher which really let’s rip, White-Gluz’s rapid fire vocals spewing forth the words. It slows somewhat to a more traditional Heavy Metal feel which provides space for the initial solo before the accelerator hits the floor once more.
The segue into Poisoned Arrows provides a lovely cinematic interlude before the track begins properly. Another song that’s instantly identifiable as Arch Enemy, it offers little, and for me is one of the weakest songs on the album.
At the halfway mark and I’m still looking for something to inspire. Sunset Over The Empire shows promise, with a pulsating beat, Erlandson’s punishing double bass kick propelling the band forward but it’s on House Of Mirrors that we finally reach the track that grabs the throat and rips it out.
House Of Mirrors brings the heavy power that the album has promised in snatches throughout. The riff is a monster, the groove infectious and the vocals demonic.
Spreading Black Wings brings with it a crushing doom feel, although the gang chanting edges it slightly away from centre. It’s one of the most melodic songs on the album, building with an atmosphere which concludes with a grand finale. This is followed by the interlude of Mourning Star, a neat instrumental that links to the final duo of One Last Time and album closer Exiled From Earth.
The former is another huge-sounding riff heavy bruiser, which switches to some clean narrative and a soaring melody which follows the vocal line. It’s another massive anthem and one that should produce a strong reaction from the fanbase. The latter and finale of the album features a brooding introduction, slowly increasing in intensity and with the triumphant ring to it that Arch Enemy do so well.
Deceivers is in no way a bad album. It’s certainly an Arch Enemy album.
It’s likely to be lapped up by the band’s hundreds of thousands of fans and there are a couple of songs that I really liked. Ultimately, what Deceivers lacks for me are a couple of really killer tracks. It feels a bit too safe, a little too routine. It’s a sanitised, polished release when what I wanted was a bit more dirt under the nails.
Arch Enemy plays six festivals this year and dates with Carcass follow. “I just saw Carcass play in California,” Michael Amott told MetalTalk in a recent interview. “I’m still good friends with them. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”