You may well flay us alive for suggesting this, but the fact is that the current incarnation of Arch Enemy have single-handedly raised the flag for female fronted extreme metal to it’s highest ever level: Alissa White-Glutz was interviewed on Radio 4 – ’nuff said!
Within thirty seconds of Into Eternity’s breathtakingly flamboyant intro shimmering it’s gilt-bottomed self into silence, you would be mistaken for thinking that what you have here is a hopefully, yet utterly superfluous facsimile of the aforementioned, multi-guitar hero-toting behemoth known as Arch Enemy. In the finest traditions of power metal and melodic death metal, we have whinnying arpeggios, churning riffs and some very crisp drumming that frequently blasts atop the neo-classical shreddery with such fury that it’s borderline comical. And, of course, we haven’t even mentioned the vocals yet.
Vocally, front-lady Amanda Keiman sounds – on first inspection – a bit like Alissa White-Gluz – sorry, that should have been, exactly like her. But fear not. Perhaps realising that there really is only one A.W.-G., she soon starts pulling tools out of her own box – sorry, that sounded a bit wrong.
As “Fringes of Psychosis” gives way to “Sandstorm” (and yes, they really do wail these words in the choruses), we wonder, how many truly vocal-centric heavy metal albums there have really been in the past? The answer? Fuck knows! Devin Townsend’s Epicloud maybe? Something by Epica perhaps? Not many. That’s for god-dang sure. So, is The Sirens one?
Well, yes, it kind of is.
Beyond the initial growl fest, Keiman unfurls a whole host of other voices, both harsh and melodic and there are many skilfully layered harmonies. The female vocals are often juxtaposed by a male tenor (guitarist Tim Roth) and things get pretty damn proggy and plenty ambitious. It doesn’t always work, if we’re honest. The main refrain of “Fukishima” is quite frankly ridiculous in it’s overwrought, chest-clutching earnestness. Power metal freaks might dig it; it’s too campy for us though. But that’s just an opinion and in metal such things are par for the course. After all, Nightwish have made a gazillion quid off them!
Yet mawkishness is not our main gripe with The Sirens. Maybe it’s the quality of the songwriting or the lack of effective editing, maybe it’s the production, but the fact is that this album is rather gloomy. There is an overall lack of exuberance, of fun and of, well, balls! Into Eternity are undoubtedly fantastic musicians fronted by a wonderful vocalist but somehow the result is less than the sum of its parts. 6/10
Into Eternity‘s The Sirens is due for release on 26th October 2018.