Okay, so how do I go about this? Well, here’s the dive into the iciest part of the pool. Arch Enemy has been tiptoeing for quite some time now. Yeah, War Eternal, Will to Power and their latest effort Deceivers (Century Media) are all above the standard metal release, but with all due respect, this lineup of power players should be standing head and shoulders above the competition. I’m thinking what Metallica was compared to the average Thrash Metal act back in 1988.
And I can already anticipate comments and Twitter replies decrying that my expectations are too high and that I should simply just enjoy whatever we get in the form of recorded output. Well, it can be a bit tough to let one slide when I know that Michael Amott played on albums like – stop me if you’ve heard these before – Heartwork, Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious, Wages of Sin, and Rise of the Tyrant. Then we pan across the stage and notice one Jeff Loomis holding it down as co-guitarist whose work you may know from everything Nevermore ever released. If anything, Arch Enemy should be currently riding a second wave not unlike how Machine Head did from 2003 up to 2014.
All that is to basically say that Deceivers is actually quite good, but you can’t help to wonder what it could’ve been if this rather international unit had chosen to not to play it so safe. Amott and Loomis bring the lead guitar thunder on most of the album, but highlights include ‘The Watcher’ and ‘Handshake with Hell.’
My biggest gripe on Deceivers is that for most of its running time it remains content to just sit in the mid-tempo comfort zone. Arch Enemy is a Death Metal band, right? Let’s bring the dizzying tempos and seven different riffs per song. ‘Sunset Over the Empire’ and ‘Deceivers, Deceivers’ show how much fun can be had when these guys put their hair down and violently exceed the speed limit. Be mad, get aggressive, throw in some blast-beats, write a song that’s just a glorified guitar solo for all I care.
Deceivers is better than a lot of stuff on the market, but I wonder if it could’ve been the wildcard of the year.
7 / 10