There’s a fine tradition of bands refusing to die with dignity as members begin to drop out: slots are filled with less talented musicians or sockpuppets for the remaining core members and a stream of increasingly mediocre material is released like the incontinence of a family pet as it circles the grave, a hollow simulacrum of a once beloved friend.
Jesus Christ, that got dark fast.
Fortunately for all involved, Arch Enemy have neatly subverted this trope. Rather than hiring musicians who might hold the band back they somehow managed to find replacements for which the only concern is that they might be held back by the constraints of creating withing the Arch Enemy formula. First, when vocalist Angela Gossow decided to step down to focus on management, the band brought in Alissa White-Gluz: already a young metal legend in her own right and a living breathing showcase for the perks of veganism. But then, they were left with another slot to fill when guitarist Nick Cordle dropped out, at which point they were forced to take on the most convenient replacement available:Jeff Loomis.
Jeff. Fucking. Loomis.
Bit of context for anyone not familiar with Loomis: this is like if your buddy sprained his ankle during a pickup basketball game and you were had to take Michael Jordan instead. Loomis is one of the top ten metal guitarists on the planet. Much like with White-Gluz’ move from the Agonist, the only possible concern will be that he doesn’t get to explore his full musical range as part of Arch Enemy. But hey, at least he’s still putting out work, right. And Arch Enemy seems like an excellent setting for Loomis to lay down a few more classic shred-heavy but incredibly musical solos to add to his bulging catalog. To prove the point, Arch Enemy wasted no time in re-recording Stolen Life from War Eternal with a few licks from their shiny new guitarist. A reminder of how consistent Arch Enemy remain (and how bloody good “Do you ever really know someone until you look away?” is as a lyric), it sits in what I like to think of as the Arch Enemy zone: never especially innovative or surprising, but always readily accessible metal fun. Catchy riffs, memorable leads and vocal hooks from the band’s seemingly unending supply prove the band is still some distance from retirement, and hopefully will remain so. The Stolen Life video is embedded below in its Loomis-enhanced glory and you can check out more of the melodeath riffage on the band’s iTunes.