Despite a gap of five years since their last studio release, the inimitable Arch Enemy is stronger than ever! The undeniably delicious proof is in Deceivers, which arrives on Friday, August 12, 2022, thanks to Century Media Records.
It has been a while since 2017’s Will to Power hit shelves and streaming services. Along with 2014’s War Eternal, the album marked a kind of renaissance for the Melodic Death Metal band that could have lost everything when the iconic Angela Gossow opted to move behind the scenes. After 14 years and eight releases, finding footing with yet another new vocalist was likely a daunting task.
But we already know how the chapters of this dark fairytale read, and with Alissa White-Gluz, the quintet—rounded out by Guitarists Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis, Bassist Sharlee D’Angelo, and Drummer Daniel Erlandsson—has never missed a blast beat. That is, until 2020 hit. Faced with a global pandemic, Arch Enemy quickly learned that being an international band is no simple feat. Divided by the Atlantic Ocean—with half the group in North America and the other half in Europe—global lockdowns complicated bringing the dream of Deceivers to fruition.
Though Amott has gone on record to say the logistics of recording their eleventh collection were an actual headache, it’s one that seems entirely worth every aspirin. Produced by Grammy Award-nominated Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Amaranthe), the 11-song finished product stands proudly beside its forebears. A testament to their vitality, even after 27 years, Deceivers offers more: more melody, more ferocity, more bold and brutal beauty.
And as a whirling dervish of guitar mastery opens “Handshake With Hell,” it becomes entirely clear that the wait was worth it. Drawing lyrical inspiration from Jean-Paul Sartre as they rule the underworld, this blistering rocker is meant to amp the listener’s hunger and adrenaline. Then, it’s full-throttle into the straightforward “Deceiver, Deceiver,” with its massive, middle-finger wagging chorus.
There’s no slowing down as they chug through the gray clouds of “In The Eye Of The Storm” and invite Erlandsson to mix in some blast beats on “The Watcher,” all while the axe-slinging duo of Amott and Loomis offer up moments of melodic mastery. This allows for unique compositions, such as the catchy “Poisoned Arrow,” which begins with an absolutely stunning orchestral moment before it rocks out, as well as offering killer atmospheric feels in “Sunset Over the Empire.” As war rages, D’Angelo’s bass grinds into the latter, inspiring a mood that sets us up for the absolute banger “House of Mirrors,” where the guitarists coax starlight from their strings.
What Arch Enemy does so well is to lovingly pay homage to the classics, though they are careful to maintain their own identity. It’s not hard to detect whispers of these titans of Heavy Metal throughout Deceivers, the likes of Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest, among many others. From the symphonic “Spreading Black Wings” to the instrumental “Mourning Star,” the triumphant gains of the anthemic “One Last Time” to the vocal bonfire of “Exiled From Earth,” there is pride taken in providing a balance to their deft compositions. Because let’s face it, many of the bands that draw influence from a similar-smelling swamp, particularly the NWOBHM icons, tend to focus their energy on their shredders, somehow relegating their bandmates’ talents to a back burner. In this, they can alienate would-be fans by overlooking everything but their boastful virtuosity, crafting a passionate ego-stroke.
For Arch Enemy, no soul is left behind: White-Gluz, equal parts Belle and Prince Adam, is mesmerizing, D’Angelo is adept at providing a sumptuous foundation, and Erlandsson runs the gamut of Heavy Metal sounds with his exemplary percussion. As a polished and united front, the quintet delivers a record that shuns any polished frills in favor of raw aggression and unadulterated Metal. Considering that Deceivers is both a product and a victim of the times in which it was created, the band arises from this pathogenic ooze triumphant, invigorated, and ready to once again carry the torch for “Pure Fucking Metal.” For this, Cryptic Rock gives Deceivers 5 out of 5 stars.