Stigmata - 1998 - Century Media
Burning Bridges - 1999 - Century Media
Burning Japan - Live 1999 - 2000 - Toy's Factory
Wages Of Sin - 2001 - Century Media
Anthems Of Rebellion - 2003 - Century Media
Doomsday Machine - 2005 - Century Media
Rise Of The Tyrant - 2007 - Century Media
The Tyrants Of The Rising Sun: Live In Japan - 2008 - Century Media
The Root Of All Evil - 2009 - Century Media
Khaos Legions - 2011 - Century Media
War Eternal - 2014 - Century Media
As the Stages Burn! – 2017 - Century Media
Will To Power – 2017 - Century Media
Deceivers – 2022 – Century Media
MembersS= Carnage, Devourment, Furbowl, Necrony>>Johan Liiva>>NonExist, Hearse - Asmodina, Mistress>>Angela Gossow - The Agonist, Nightwish, Solo>>ALISSA WHITE-GLUZ>>Solo
G= Carnage, Spiritual Beggars, Candlemass, Krux>>MICHAEL AMOTT>>Spiritual Beggars, Candlemass, Krux - Armageddon>>Christopher Amott>>Armageddon - Armageddon>>Christopher Amott>>Armageddon, Solo, Machine Head - Armageddon, Solo>>Christopher Amott>>Solo, Machine Head – Fear-Tech, System, Nevermore, Solo, Conquering Dystopia, Alcatrazz>>JEFF LOOMIS>>Solo, Conquering Dystopia, Alcatrazz
B= Carnage, Furbowl>>Johan Liiva - Armageddon>>Martin Bengtsson>>Armageddon - Mercyful Fate, Dismember, Witchery, Sinergy, Illwill, The Night Flight Orchestra>>SHARLEE D'ANGELO [CHARLES PETER ANDREASON]>>Mercyful Fate, Witchery, Illwill, Sinergy, The Night Flight Orchestra
D= Armageddon, Eucharist, In Flames>>Daniel Erlandsson - Zaninez, Agretator, Armageddon>>Peter Wildoer>>Majestic, Darkane, Time Requiem - Armageddon, Eucharist, Diabolique, Liers In Wait, In Flames, Revengia>>DANIEL ERLANDSSON>>Armageddon, Revengia
History & BiographyHailed by many as one of the better heavy/thrash metal bands out of Sweden, Arch Enemy's cast is hardly comprised of unknowns.
The band's first album was released through the now-renamed Wrong Again Records, which was owned by a certain Per Gyllenback - the singer of Deranged.
Following his sudden departure from Carcass, guitarist Michael Amott had joined Deranged in the studio to contribute leads to their MCD. The band was formed in January of 1996 after Michael Amott and Liiva discussed getting together again with the purpose of playing some heavier material like 'the good old days.' With time finally allowing, a brother and a drummer were recruited and the result was indisputable.
The band signed to Century Media soon and settled for a slightly more conventional sound - albeit still with above average song writing. Burning Japan was initially a Japanese-only release, which was given further distribution after the demand became clear.
With the advent of 2001 and forced departure of Liiva from the fold, the band sought replacement from a hitherto unknown German singer/journalist who had interviewed the band earlier and followed up by sending in a video performance of herself. Rumours dogged the band that Gossow was romantically involved with a certain band member however despite the aforementioned story. The relationship between Mike and Gossow was later officially acknowledged.
Wages Of Sin was released in 2001 in Japan and a year later elsewhere. The band and its management were reportedly in sharp disagreement over the contractual terms with the label. Arch Enemy cancelled its appearance at Japan's Beast Feast in 2001 due to the sudden illness of vocalist Angelo Gossow. The band had previously cancelled its Wacken appearance in Germany. In parallel news, and to the frustration of the fans, Century Media has not released the band's latest album due to band/label conflicts. The band's management was looking at moving the band to another label and so the fans had been snatching up Japanese imports that summer. Arch Enemy supported the album through opening slots with Nile after refusing an offer to tour with Hypocrisy. Further rumours had the band touring with Dark Tranquillity in 2002. Arch Enemy took part in Japan's Beast Feast 2002 on December 14th and 15th at Makuhari Messe Event Hall in Tokyo alongside Slayer and Motörhead.
Arch Enemy's sixth album, entitled Anthems Of Rebellion, appeared in July, 2003. Andy Sneap in England produced it. The band participated in several festivals in that summer. A tour with Nevermore (cut short due to a bug-infested tour bus and the need to rest before hitting America) and another with Hate Eternal followed. The band was given the chance to open for Slayer in the autumn of 2003 as well. In the spring of 2004, the band had to publicly apologize for dropping off the Weapons Of Mass Destruction tour, which featured Machine Head and God Forbid. The band had offered conflicting reasons for once again cancelling a tour. Simultaneously, the band's Japanese label Toy's Factory released a six-track EP entitled Dead Eyes See No Future on June 9th to coincide with the band's Japanese tour. Later in the year, the "Japanese-only EP" Dead Eyes See No Future was released in the rest of the world. Fans worldwide could expect the EP, featuring the title song, cover versions and live songs, in November. The band finished working on the Doomsday Machine album in April, 2005. The band also re-signed with Century Media Records where guitarist Mike Amott would also license music from his own label, Savage Messiah Music.
With the departure of Christopher Amott, in order to lead a normal life and pursue college studies, the band played a string of US and Canadian dates and OzzFest shows with guitarist Gus G. and then recruited Fredrik Åkesson of Talisman, John Norum, Krux and Tiamat fame. The band, Chimaira, Hate Eternal, God Forbid and Nevermore (on select shows) toured as part of the Jagermeister sponsored co-headlining bill in April of 2006 in Canada and the USA. The trek included a stop at the New England Metal And Hardcore Festival on April 29th. Arch Enemy's Live Apocalypse DVD was also soon completed. It was a two-disc release with the main show being from The Forum in London, U.K (December '04). Christopher Amott returned to the band in March, 2007 following an 18-month absence. The band next completed work on its next album, entitled Rise Of The Tyrant, which was the follow-up to 2005's Doomsday Machine. The band had once again enlisted producer Fredrik Nordström at Sweden's Studio Fredman, where the band had recorded all of its albums since Wages Of Sin (2001). In an interview with Closeup magazine in late summer of 2007, Mike Amott discussed the possibility of a Carcass reunion. Apparently, the band minus drummer Ken Owen, had even rehearsed. Plans were shelved pending the completion of Arch Enemy's touring cycle in support of its album Rise Of The Tyrant. Sister Sin, Leaves' Eyes and Mercenary were opening for the band at the latter band’s December Tyranny Tour 2008. The band was not managed by Sanctuary beginning 2008. Gossow took over the band’s management at that point. The Tyrants Of The Rising Sun: Live In Japan CD and DVD was out in November. The band undertook a Latin America Revolution Tour 2009 in late April including trips to Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. Century Media Records issued a compilation called Manifesto Of Arch Enemy in Europe next. The CD featured live versions of Blood On Your Hands and Taking Back My Soul. Arch Enemy, Suffocation and Winds Of Plague were touring Australia in November of 2009. The band would release a new album, entitled The Root Of All Evil, on September 28th, 2009 through Century Media Records. The album was mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap with the band’s drummer, Daniel Erlandsson, engineering. It was a rerecording of material from the band’s first three albums with Gossow singing. In 2010, Arch Enemy guitarist Christopher Amott was working on a solo album called Follow Your Heart. It was reportedly psychedelic rock. Arch Enemy would play its first show on the Faroe Islands at the 2010 edition of the G! Festival. Arch Enemy was headlining the concert on July 16th. Arch Enemy was booked for the Magic Circle Festival IV @ Metalcamp. Other confirmed acts included Manowar, Holyhell and Crosswind. Magic Circle Festival IV @ Metalcamp took place in the summer of 2010 in Tolmin, Slovenia on July 11th. The band asked Sabbat to drop off its November 2010 UK shows after the latter band decided to tour the UK on its own in August.
In early 2011 Arch Enemy was at the Sweet Spot Studio in Sweden recording a new album due in June through Century Media. The album was being produced by the band and engineered and mixed by Rickard Bengtsson. The group picked Khaos Legions as the title for its new album, which was due in May through Century Media Records. The CD was recorded at Sweet Spot Studio with engineer Rickard Bengtsson. The band was scheduled for Germany's Summer Breeze festival in August. Arch Enemy played in Casablanca, Morocco on May 15th. Arch Enemy teamed with Amnesty International in order to raise awareness level for human rights abuses and social injustices worldwide. During the band’s headlining Canadian and U.S. tour, called North American Khaos 2011, Amnesty International was present helping to create awareness for its campaigns. Guitarist Christopher Amott left Arch Enemy again in late 2012. He was completing a solo album. Arch Enemy’s statement stated that Christopher was not a fan of extreme metal any longer. Arch Enemy recruited 26-year-old American guitarist Nick Cordle of Arsis. Canadian thrashers Titans Eve, which had released a demo called Life Apocalypse, was booked for a European tour with Arch Enemy in October of 2012. This would be the band’s first European tour and would see them perform in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and Spain for the 10 show dates. Apparently, Arch Enemy singer Angela Gossow supported Titans Eve’s opening slot. Arch Enemy would perform its 2002 album, Wages Of Sin, in its entirety on December 6th, 2012 at Circo Volador in Mexico City. Europe performed the entire Wings Of Tomorrow album from 1984 on Monday, March 3rd, 2014 at the opening show of its Swedish tour in Stockholm. Mike Amott joined the group on stage for the song Wings Of Tomorrow. Arch Enemy had recorded a cover version of the track. Arch Enemy replaced singer Angela Gossow with Alissa White-Gluz formerly of The Agonist. The new album, War Eternal, would be issued that June through Century Media. Gossow would now manage the band. Alissa wanted to simultaneously remain with The Agonist, but that band had recruited Vicky Psarakis. Apparently, Alissa was Angela’s choice. The band was booked for the Masters Of Rock 2014 in Vizovice, an open air festival in the Czech Republic on Friday, July 11th. Arch Enemy’s singer Alissa White-Gluz was performing with broken ribs after crashing into a stage riser during the band's European tour. The band would tour North America that October with openers Kreator, Huntress and Starkill. For Arch Enemy and Kreator’s autumn tours the bands would release split seven-inch singles available on the road. A transparent red 7” single and a dark red 7” single (each limited to 500 copies) would be available during the tours. Kreator was headlining Europe while Arch Enemy was headlining North America. In the autumn of 2014, Amott asked guitarist Nick Cordle to leave and replaced him with former Nevermore member Jeff Loomis who made his live debut with the act on the current European tour. Naturally, the band’s perennial second guitarist Christopher Amott was finishing the USA tour with his older brother. Shortly thereafter, Sanctuary parted ways with guitarist Brad Hull and replaced him with Nick Cordle who was asked to leave Arch Enemy. Brad Hull had replaced Jeff Loomis in Sanctuary who, in turn, replaced Cordle in Arch Enemy! Insomnium recruited Nick Cordle for a tour. The band launched its own brand of hot sauce, Burning Angel. Arch Enemy would be re-joined by its original members Johan Liiva (vocals) and Christopher Amott (guitar) for its show at 2015’s Loud Park festival on October 10-11 at Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan, which was just north of Tokyo. Arch Enemy singer Alissa White-Gluz signed a solo deal in 2016 With Napalm Records. The singer was promising a diverse record and music. Arch Enemy will release a new live DVD, called As The Stages Burn!, on March 31st 2017 through Century Media. It was recorded at Wacken last year. Arch Enemy would release a new album, called Will To Power, on September 8th 2017 through Century Media Records. Arch Enemy would release a vinyl box set including all ten studio albums and a bonus gatefold double LP featuring covers and bonus tracks recorded between 1996 and 2017 on February 16th 2018. It was called 1996 – 2017. Arch Enemy announced a U.S tour for autumn of 2018 with openers Goatwhore and Uncured. The band had recorded so many cover versions it put them all on one disc in early 2019 and called it Covered In Blood. The band was mired in a controversy in late 2018 when one of its vendors Marta Gabriel, sole proprietor of Thunderball Clothing complained to the band’s manager about a request for credit and compensation it had received for posting a work of photography without credit. J Salmeron a photographer, writer, lawyer and the editor of Metal Blast had requested his work not be used without credit and, given the situation, the offender donate 100 Euros to a charity. Instead, the said company and extreme metal band’s manager Gossow reacted by admonishing the artist for the request and banning him. Gossow believed the photographer should be happy with the “exposure.” Subsequently and given the fan base’s reaction the offending Poland-based tailor shut its door. The Metalitalia.com Festival announced the details of the 2019 edition of the festival, which would take place once again at the Live Music Club in Trezzo Sull’Adda (Milan), Italy. Fleshgod Apocalypse, Darkane, Gotthard, Arch Enemy and Hardcore Superstars were among the booked bands. Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, At The Gates and Grand Magus would tour North America using the Berserker monicker in September 2019. The name was taken from Amon Amarth’s latest album. Behemoth, Arch Enemy and Carcass announced the European Siege 2021 Tour. Jeff Loomis has joined Graham Bonnet's version of Alcatrazz in 2021. Arch Enemy, Behemoth and Carcass postponed The European Siege tour due to the coronavirus pandemic to the autumn of 2022. The North American Siege 2022 featuring Arch Enemy and Behemoth plus guests Napalm Death and Unto Others was to wind its way through Canada and the USA in April and May 2022. Arch Enemy would release a new album, called Deceivers, through Century Media Records in July. Singer Alissa White-Gluz and former Alice Cooper and current Demi Lovato guitarist Nita Strauss collaborated on a song called The Wolf You Feed in 2022.
ARCH ENEMY - WAGES OF SIN - CENTURY MEDIA
ARCH ENEMY - ANTHEMS OF REBELLION - CENTURY MEDIA
ARCH ENEMY - DEAD EYES SEE NO FUTURE - CENTURY MEDIA
ARCH ENEMY - DOOMSDAY MACHINE - CENTURY MEDIA
ARCH ENEMY - RISE OF THE TYRANT - CENTURY MEDIA
ARCH ENEMY - THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL - CENTURY MEDIA
InterviewsEver heard of Eucharist? Then you should be familiar with the name of drummer Daniel Erlandsson. Ever heard of Carcass, Carnage or Spiritual Beggars? Then you should be familiar with the name of guitarist Michael Amott. Furthermore, those familiar with either Carnage or Furbowl should remember the name of vocalist/bassist Johan Liiva. Add to this impressive line-up Michael’s younger brother Christopher on second guitar; give yourself a monicker like Arch Enemy and you instantly have a Swedish super group. But, how is the music? Fast and heavy, one hundred percent pure and certified metal. Imagine a faster and harsher Slayer with Mike Amott’s trademark solos and a couple of shots of heaviness and you’ll know you want to get their debut album, Black Earth, on Wrong Again Records. Ali “The Metallian” gets Michael Amott to answer a few questions from his home in Southern Sweden where he currently is taking a short, but well-deserved break. - 1996
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Tell us about the formation of Arch Enemy. Your line-up is more than a mere coincidence, isn’t it?
MIKE AMOTT: Arch Enemy was formed in early ’96 by myself and Johan. We hadn’t seen much of each other in the last couple of years, but we started talking over the phone about doing a musical project together again. We started jamming straight away and the stuff we were coming up with sounded really cool. So, we decided to continue what we had started and also to look for a suitable drummer and second guitar player, which were found in Daniel Erlandsson and my brother Christopher Amott. We signed a deal with the Swedish label W.A.R. and recorded the album in Studio Fredman in Gothenburg.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Could you elaborate on your departure from Carcass, which, at the time, were at the height of their success? You went on to form Spiritual Beggars, one of your current bands. What is new on that front and what else have you been up to over the last couple of years?
MIKE AMOTT: The reasons for me leaving Carcass were mostly musical. Basically, I was bored with the whole Carcass situation, but I must add that I have a lot of respect for the guys and I had a great time playing with them. All the touring and travelling was a lot of fun and definitely a learning experience.
Spiritual Beggars has been a perfect way to release all that stuff that I had bottled up inside me whilst I was playing with Carcass. I am not quite sure how well the band has been doing commercially. We put out our second CD, Another Way To Shine, in Europe through Music For Nations recently and we’ve only had good reviews. We played the Dynamo Festival in Holland with Slayer, Venom, etcetra. That was a blast!
Apart from doing Beggars, I’ve done loads of writing. Maybe I”˜ll do a solo album in the future. That would be a challenge. I did some leads on a Deranged mini-album, but I can’t say I am happy with that session.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: How is the solo material?
MIKE AMOTT: The material is diverse; it’s a little bit of everything that I am into. I might try to record it, but that’s for the future.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Your brother, the band’s second guitarist, is a new name to the scene. How did you guys get in the same band?
My brother has not played on any other albums previous to Black Earth, so I guess he is new to the scene, as you say. It is simple why he is in the band. Christopher is an awesome player and I wanted a second lead guitarist in the band so we could have harmonies and lead guitar trade-offs because I love that shit. I am very pleased with his contributions to the album. He has his own band going as well, Armageddon. They’ll be recording a demo soon. That is one band to definitely look for.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: I find it interesting that both yourself and Johan have reverted back to heavy music after a period of what I thought was incurable wimpiness.
MIKE AMOTT: Personally, I stopped thinking in those terms a long time ago. Music is such a vast and beautiful landscape that to stay in one place all the time would not only be boring, but incredibly foolish.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Did you contact other labels or was W.A.R., by virtue of its proximity and connections to yourself, the only label you approached?
MIKE AMOTT: We didn’t bother contacting any other labels; W.A.R. was the only label we wanted to do this with. We have a great working relationship with the W.A.R. people. They’re cool guys. They were into doing it a hundred percent from the first rehearsal tape onwards. W.A.R. has been really supportive all the way and given us everything we wanted and needed to get this album together. It really is a blessing to work with a label that, as well as being professional on the business side of things, are also true music fans.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Let us hear in more detail about the individual songs on Black Earth.
MIKE AMOTT: Well, a brief guide to the album would go something like this: Bury Me An Angel is one of my personal favourites on the album. The opening riff is an old one of mine that I originally wrote for Carcass. Christopher and I wrote a nice harmony for the chorus - some pizzicato arpeggios in the bridge leading to my solo. It’s one of those songs that I after a few months of wearing out my advance tape still enjoy very much. Dark Insanity is the first track that I and Johan wrote together as Arch Enemy. It’s pretty much a straightforward thrashing metal attack. Eureka is a mid-tempo song with some melodic guitar parts and a good performance from Johan in the vocal department. Idolatress is the only song on the record that features a groove similar to the stuff we used to do in Carcass in the 80s - a bit of a retro feel and a lot of fun to play. Cosmic Retribution is a fast track with a lot of energy. I co-wrote this one with Johan and then Christopher came up with the acoustic guitar part, which gave the whole song a new dimension. The lyrics are a futuristic view of our planet and its inhabitants. Demoniality is an instrumental doomy riff I’ve had lying around for ages. Transmigration Macabre is another fast song with a slight Slayer-esque feel to it. The lyrics came naturally to me when we had completed the music. The riffs demanded a twisted lyrical content. Time Capsule is a short acoustic piece with the lead guitar setting the mood for Fields Of Desolation, which is also a favourite of mine on the record. It’s a perfect example of when music and lyrics jell into a perfect union. The songs ends with a dramatic solo played by Christopher, and a slow fade which I think creates a real epic finale., but also leaves the door open for another chapter.
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 18.
"So you are that Ali!" The caller at the other end of the line is Michael Amott the man behind Sweden's rising metal band Arch Enemy. He is calling a good half an hour earlier than agreed and has been going over the web site. Having absorbed the band's latest tour-de-force, entitled Wages Of Sin featuring new singer Angela Gossow, and given it the Metallian seal of approval it was time to speak with the band, dig a little deeper and find out more about the latest developments with the guitarist and founder. But first things first. Having conducted the first Arch Enemy interview in 1996 armed with an advance tape of the band's debut Black Earth, I asked the man if he recalled that early chat. Ali "The Metallian" interviewed Michael Amott on one wet Sunday afternoon - 31.03.2002.
"So you are that Ali! I remember it was for Pit Magazine." Yes and having followed Arch Enemy from those early days it's great to be here some six years later speaking about an album as good as Wages Of Sin. Be that as it may, let me ask, are we chatting about an old album?
Hmmm (laughs)...it's still really fresh to me. It's just come out in North America and Europe. But I don't really listen to our own albums that much. So I am not burnt out on it. Well, I was rather worried when things got dragged out with the release of the album. But it happens in this business. There's ups and there's downs. We are really psyched that it's out. We have been touring for three weeks in Japan and we did a showcase at the Troubadour in Hollywood. It was really uplifting and really cool. Now we are playing two shows on the East Coast of the USA.
Were those the very first shows in support of Wages Of Sin? If so, how did it feel given how you were on stage with a new singer and new songs?
I guess I was a little bit nervous especially because it was in L.A. and we had never played the West Coast before. When Century Media told us they are putting together a showcase in Hollywood I was wondering who would want to watch us in Hollywood (laughs)! I was expecting like 50 industry people clapping their hands. But the place fits 350 and they crammed in 500 people. There was a queue right around the block when we arrived in our van from the hotel and I was like 'oh my God!' I couldn't believe it. I am more scared of playing the small shows where the crowd is not so enthusiastic. It's been very cool playing the songs with the new line-up. We are so much stronger visually and musically. I feel more relaxed with our new singer than the old. I always stress myself out. I never worry about the actual playing. I am a good guitar player and the whole band consists of really good players. We rehearse plenty. I am stressed about the technical stuff, like will this gear work or the hired back-line - stuff that the crowd never notices.
Stuff the crowd does notice is the one year delay with the release of the album. The album has been ready for over a year and indeed released in Japan since last spring. Michael, what transpired during this time?
It's just business crap. We are represented by Sanctuary Management in England. They are out there fighting for us and obviously I know what's going. But I am not one-hundred percent involved politically or emotionally. I try to stay away from that stuff because it's pretty boring. I don't know if we shopped the album with other labels. There was an argument going on and we renegotiated the deal. Our manager wanted to make the deal more beneficial for the band and the label didn't always agree. Then they got really nasty and shut down the communication for six months. In the meanwhile there's a band with an album sitting out there and getting forgotten after a while. I don't take it that hard. I am not bitter - it's just music. It destroys you if you start getting negative. It's all politics.
Speaking of the band situation, what were the series of events leading to the departure of your former singer Johan Liiva? Was there a risk you considered recruiting Angela Gossow not only for being a newcomer, but also for being a female?
I like to say firstly that life is all about taking risk. You don't really live unless you take risks. There was a bigger risk, as far as the band's popularity or career, if we had maintained the same line-up. That would have been our downfall. There just wasn't the needed creative spark from our (old) singer. The creativity and the input were missing. Arch Enemy was becoming a 'guitar players' type of a band. We needed somebody to add more intensely, vocally and visually to the band and be a fighter. We didn't go out looking for a female singer. We went out looking for the best singer we could find and it happened to be a woman.
Risk? Yeah, I think so, maybe. But it felt good. It worked out absolutely. Personally I was expecting a fifty-fifty reaction from our fan base. But it's been ninety-nine percent positive and only one percent who loves the first album and will not listen to anything else. You gotta have that one percent. (Sometimes) I am like those guys too when it comes to other bands.
Speaking of Gossow, what happened to her voice last year? Specifically, when she lost her voice, were you concerned given her recent status in the band?
That was a concern for all of us. We had to cancel several shows. Ultimately it didn't harm us that much because we had all the business stuff going on and we didn't have an album out everywhere to promote. Everything has worked out. It was a drag obviously, but she went back to her native Germany and she's been working with vocal coaches and improving her vocal technique. She's even more brutal now that when she started with the band and on the album.
Apart from the two US festivals what are the latest developments with the band?
There are all kinds of ideas for touring coming together. We will be confirming several European festivals for June and also announcing plans for US and Canada in May. We just want to get out on the road.
Any line-ups you can mention?
I have heard so many rumours. I mean when we announce stuff it is one-hundred percent sure. There is always talk and suggestions. One tour that was suggested for Europe was with Samael. We were offered the tour and there were discussions going back and forth. Then it was announced on the web and promoters were supposedly offered the show, et cetra. Then when we ended up not doing the tour, we had Samael fans contact us and ask why we didn't do it! With the Internet most of the time the news is not even true. At least there is interest out there for us!
The album itself is what we should concentrate on next. What is note-worthy is that the album is so accomplished while being a pure metal album. How hard do you work on your songs?
So many bands mix other stuff into metal. Suddenly they want to be Depeche Mode or something. That's cool, and I am not a complete die-hard metal freak, but when it comes to writing Arch Enemy music I want to do it with guitars, bass, drums and vocals and not add other stuff. That's the challenge for me. That and keeping the vocals and music on the extreme side of things. That's where I want to be.
The seeds of the songs come easily. It comes through just jamming and doesn't take long between Chris (Amott Arch Enemy guitarist) and me. We come up with riffs and melody sitting around the practice room. We are one of the few death metal bands that actually jams and it's because everyone's accomplished as a musician. We improvise around different themes and there is no strict formula at that point. Then we tape the stuff and we take it home. Then it becomes more complicated and we get into arrangement. I am really big on arrangement. We like to streamline things as much as possible. We add little intricate parts. An example is on Ravenous which took more time than a songs like Dead Bury Their Dead. Ravenous has much more guitar and intricate stuff in it. It feels like what the fans want is what we want. Remember how Master Of Puppets was with all the guitars? That's how Arch Enemy is with guitars, crazy stuff and a lot of harmony, et cetra. This time I also wanted to keep it darker and more brutal. In the past we would add a lot of melody but, in retrospect I don't think they fit the mood of the music. We did it because we could - that's all. I think we are getting pickier with what we put into our songs.
It is also a personal opinion that Wages Of Sin is superior to your prior effort, 1999's Burning Bridges.
I think so too. I don't think Arch Enemy will ever get softer than Burning Bridges. It turned out a little too soft which sucks. We just made a more conscious decision (this time) to get harder and more extreme.
Getting deeper into the album, what's the purpose behind the longer intro?
What's the purpose of any intro? I mean, I hate intros. We never had one before. We usually go straight, bang, into the heaviest song. This time we were doing everything differently and we thought we might as well have an intro to set the mood. The piano being played is the same melody that reappears in the chorus later - it's played at double the speed on the guitars. We wanted to be a little bit more intricate production-wise.
Andy Sneap was a big part of making the album louder. He mixed the album, but he should have been credited with co-production. When Daniel (Erlandsson Arch Enemy drummer) and I took the tapes to England he took our tapes and turned everything upside down! But so much happens in the mix.
Michael, why don't you expand on the other songs?
Savage Messiah is one of my favourites. We tuned it further down than the rest of the album. We also did that for Behind The Smile. I like the heavy vibe of Savage Messiah. The intro is also good. It reminds me of South of Heaven or something. I also play through the voice box - the Bon Jovi thing - and that sounded pretty cool. There is also some choir stuff on the keyboards happening there. It has a clean middle-section which goes into an Eastern vibe.
Speaking of Behind The Smile, that too is a different song.
That's the songs nobody likes I think. Nobody ever mentions it. But I am totally into it. On every album we have a song which is different. For example, on Burning Bridges the title track was like a doom metal song. I like adding stuff to ensure that not the whole album is the same. I like every song to have it's own personality and life. I think albums which you know every song will be the same and the next song is more of the same are boring in the long run. With Arch Enemy we will always be fast and heavy, have lots of crazy guitar work and feature brutal vocals but there is always room for growth to try a couple of different flavours. Behind The Smile is groovier with bent notes. I got it from Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song. Some people are saying it sounds like Nevermore, but we got it from Led Zeppelin. Then it goes into a neoclassical (sic) melody like Bach. Those are melodies which I came up with and Chris needed up playing for he could do it better. We are so mature now that we play for the song.
So you are not Oasis?
No, no no. We are really good. We are quite different players too. We have developed in different directions, but are still both metal.
What gear do you guys use?
We use all kinds of stuff. We are pretty basic. We don't use huge racks. We get all the distortion from the amps and the tubes. We use Angel and Peavey 5150's. On the albums you always hear a mix (of equipment). We always use four rhythm guitars and double the solos. We usually use around 30 channels. I don't know why it ends up being that many. I used to record albums on a 16-track and that was fine. But now with the digital stuff there are infinite possibilities. With some bands it ends up being too much. They overdub all the time. You don't really gain much by overdubbing and adding stuff all the time. We keep it focused.
Let's me ask a couple of questions regarding the band's releases. Will you release the Burning Angel EP here?
It's only a Japanese EP. There is nothing there that isn't on the Century Media double disc set. Everything is the same all over the world now. We kept Lament Of A Mortal Soul for the European and North American markets because we knew the album will appear later in those territories.
What about the rumour that the current line-up is re-recording your debut album Black Earth?
I have heard that too. Per, previously of Wrong Again records, has re-released it through his Regain Records. We didn't give our approval for it and so we consider it a bootleg! We had extra demo and rehearsal tracks plus photos and video footage of the making of that album and I wanted to release the definitive version of Black Earth. I wanted to put out a classy and re-mastered edition. He has gone ahead and released a shitty and bad-sounding version. But that's the business. When the cat is out of the bag it's out. But hey, I am not bitter (laughs again). I believe in karma. Everyone's going to get what's coming to them sometime.
What about the Burning Japan - Live 1999 CD? Will that see a release here?
It might be. I don't know. It's not really that interesting to us anymore. It's not featuring the current line-up you know. It might end up appearing because Century Media really seem to want it. But we are not that eager. At the time we wanted a world-wide release. But with a new line-up we are not so eager. You are right when you say it was a closure for one chapter of the band. We are so much bigger in Japan - number one extreme metal band - and it's a big deal there. That album sold more than many other bands' studio albums - the last Arch Enemy album live with Johan!! Here it wouldn't do that well. But sometime down the line it would be cool for it to come out. I don't really care that much either way. Right now I am looking forward.
Let us look to the future then. Are you working on new songs? If so, in which direction is Arch Enemy headed? Amott is in a jovial mood.
It's going in the direction of Creed. We've got a real Christian message in there (laughs again). No, it will be extreme and heavy. It will be Arch Enemy, hopefully with a twist. We have about five songs done. We will write another ten songs or so. This way we will have a selection to choose from. We write more than required and put the best stuff on the album. Everyone writes a weak song once in a while. I don't care who the band is. We are trying to avoid that. The new stuff is really fast, extreme and metal. The songs don't have words yet and are instrumental. We will do a mega-session of a few weeks when we will put everything together. We have to get it out for the first half of 2003.
Will you once again head into Studio Fredman?
I am not too sure. I know that I would like to work with Andy Sneap again. He really pushed Wages Of Sin over the edge and I am really impressed with that. I don't want the Burning Bridges hard rock sound. I want a sound that totally crushes and is modern. I don't want to wave the flag of eighties metal. I want to be extreme and in your face.
Michael, let's take the rest of our chat and discuss your personal activities. What is new on that front?
Well I am not involved with Candlemass anymore as their original line-up has reformed. I saw their reunion show. All their older albums are re-released with bonus material. They are totally killer and will play several European festivals. Arch Enemy is more my focus now and I can't keep doing this and Spiritual Beggars. I am not King Diamond. I don't have his energy. It's also not fair towards Arch Enemy to compromise. Especially now with Arch Enemy's new line-up and the interest it has garnered we will be on a whole different level. I want to give Arch Enemy the attention it deserves. Spiritual Beggars is a side-project. I love doing that seventies guitar sound, it is a part of me, and we have a new album in the vaults. It's not mixed yet, but it will come out around September. We won't really tour too much for it. Arch Enemy is definitely taking over.
What about your previous band-mates of Carcass. Are you in touch with them?
Yes, I am in touch with a couple of them. Bill Steer is in Firebird. That's a real seventies hard rock band a la Cream and Led Zeppelin. It's really good and really high quality. His last album was on Music For Nations. Jeff Walker has quit the music business. He has short hair and looks very tidy. The official story is that he's working the night shift in a morgue dissecting dead babies.
What is he really doing?
I don't know, I don't want to say really. I think he works in a bank. He denies people mortgages and stuff all day. Ken Owen has recovered from his coma from what I was told. He was in a coma for a year due to a brain hemorrhage. He will never play the drums again. I believe he's in a wheelchair. It's depressing for someone at that age. At least he's alive! Many cool metal musicians have died on us recently.
While on the topic of Carcass, I ask Michael Amott if he is getting paid his due royalties.
Is that a joke? I don't know anything with what goes on with that. I have a publisher and get the money for that. But for the actual recording royalty for the album it's been many moons since I got anything from Earache.
Michael, that about covers the questions I intended to discuss with you. Thank you for your time and the opportunity to chat with you.
No problem Ali. Thank you and hopefully it won't be another six years before we speak again.
The quintet of singer Angela Gossow, guitarists Michael and Christopher Amott, bassist Sharlee D'Angelo and drummer Daniel Erlandsson will spend the entire spring and summer of 2002 touring. They hope to record a new album in the autumn of 2002 to be released by Century Media in early 2003. Wages Of Sin is available in the Americas and Europe via Century Media and in Japan via Toy's Factory.
It has been three years since we last brought you an Arch Enemy interview. The time was ripe to get guitarist and band leader Mike Amott on the telephone in order to update you on what he and singer Angela Gossow, drummer Daniel Erlandsson and bassist Sharlee D' Angelo are up to and discuss the band's recently-released album Doomsday Machine which is now out on Century Media. - 05.08.2005
METALLIAN: Mike, last we spoke was in 2002 on the occasion of the release of the Wages Of Sin record. You followed that release up with Anthems Of Rebellion which garnered some negative reaction for its questionable sound. Is Doomsday Machine's improvement back to what made you successful in the first place a reaction to that criticism?
MIKE: In a way you are reading too much into it. We don't really care what people say. First and foremost we make this music for ourselves. Every band goes through different stages in their development. The main focus in Arch Enemy has always been extreme metal. With Anthems Of Rebellion we backed off a little bit. The arrangements were more straightforward and there were less guitar solos. That was an interesting album to make. I think Doomsday Machine is a kind of a reaction to that. We missed playing the more technical music with the melodies and the solos when we went on the road for Anthems Of Rebellion. We got bored with that material pretty quickly. We wanted to have a strong focus on melodic guitar works and stuff people know us for and made us Arch Enemy when we started writing material for Doomsday Machine.
We want to be different. We don't want to be like every other band. We have this talent in the band, it is a kind of knowledge of metal and our roots are in classic and traditional metal. We know what we are doing with our guitars, so why not do it? There is a lot of confidence in the band. It is great to be in Arch Enemy right now.
METALLIAN: Subsequent to the release of Anthems Of Rebellion you defined metal fans as "bitches", while Angela went so far as, albeit perhaps indignantly, admitting to selling out. Was the band upset at the time?
MIKE: No, because Anthems Of Rebellion was our most successful album. Every album has been a step up and we have sold more with each new release. The concerts are getting bigger, the tours are getting bigger and so is everything else. I cannot complain really. Ozzfest is going well and everything is positive. It is a short blast. We perform in front of a whole bunch of people who have never heard of us. We get a strong reaction. We are very successful. I thought we might be too different because we are the only true metal band on that stage. There are bands with a metal influence, but they don't have the traditional guitar work that we have. We also don't have the 'god cop/bad cop' vocals. We just have screaming vocals. We don't have a 'boy band' chorus. I thought maybe people will throw us off the stage, but it has proven to be the opposite. We are having a lot of success. People are ready for Arch Enemy. The reason I called metal fans "bitches" is because metal fans moan a lot. They are like (affects a nagging voice), "Oh, these guys have sold out. Only the first album is good and the rest is crap." You know that, right?
METALLIAN: Of course, I am their leader.
MIKE: The scene is very traditional and very conservative. It is cool. I like being a part of it. I am the same, you know. I spend hours talking about Metallica or those kind of bands.
METALLIAN: So, what is the story behind the new album and the title Doomsday Machine?
MIKE: We just wanted a powerful title for the album. It had stuck with us. I had written the title down a couple of years ago. It is a line from the lyrics of the song Dead Eyes See No Future. It picks it up from there. The new album is not a concept album like Anthems Of Rebellion was. It is a collection of songs, although one wants to give each album a sense that encapsulates the whole thing.
METALLIAN: The cover design seems uninspired. A skull on a metal album is not exactly innovative, is it?
MIKE: (Jokingly) you don't like metal? I really wanted a skull on the cover. I have never had that! I deserve my skull now. I earned it and it is a damn good looking skull if you ask me.
METALLIAN: Notwithstanding that, Doomsday Machine's sales have already taken off. Would you say that you are conscious of your success?
MIKE: I do, I do and more and more. I appreciate what I have accomplished. When I was a lot younger and just started out I didn't appreciate all the things. Things just happened and I took them for granted. Nowadays I am very appreciative of what we have accomplished with Arch Enemy and I am proud of that. Moreover, I feel great that Arch Enemy is an extreme metal band that carries the flag. We have not incorporated hiphop or dress in stupid clothing. You know what I mean? OK, maybe we dress in stupid clothes from time to time, but every album we have done has been super heavy, down-tuned and full of heavy riffing, solos, double bass drums and screaming. That is where our hearts lie collectively as a band. To become more and more successful is the way it should be, I think.
In the mid-'90s I didn't have much going on and there didn't seem to be an obvious option for me because what I wanted to play wasn't popular at all anywhere. There was no audience. I was working at a record store and I thought, well, maybe I should go back to school and forget about this whole thing. Then I formed Arch Enemy and, slowly, it has been growing and growing. Now it is better than ever before. Life is a weird journey and you never know where it is going. Nowadays it feels exciting to play metal. I love it. Metal is in my blood.
METALLIAN: Speaking of life journeys and going back to school your brother Christopher is reportedly taking a sabbatical from the band in order to go back to school. Can you describe the circumstances behind his decision and what the band is planning to do to fill the void?
MIKE: He decided he wants to try something different. He was thinking about this on the last couple of tours. He wanted to do something different. He has never done anything different (than the band). He has gone straight from living with our parents to going on tour. He has never tried the 'normal' life. He is doing some preparations for university and he hopes to study something to do with music. He just wants to have a taste of that and stay off the road for a year or so. Then we will see what happens. I don't have a problem with that. It is not such a big deal to us. It might be to some other people. There is no bad blood between my brother and me. It is not like the well-publicized Sepultura thing. I talk to him online every other day.
METALLIAN: is there a chance that he will not return to the band?
MIKE: We don't know right now. We are going to tour our asses of for this album. We have an 18-month campaign ahead of us. The Ozzfest is just the beginning of that. We needed a banjo player to fill his spot. We have a guy right now and we will see what happens.
METALLIAN: Why did you choose guitarist Gus G. of Dream Evil and Firewind fame? Is he going to be a new and permanent fixture?
MIKE: I don't think Gus will tour with us the entire year. We are talking to a bunch of different guitar players right now. Gus is the guy who was up for coming over and doing Ozzfest. I am really grateful for that. Gus was the first guy I called and we needed someone quickly.
METALLIAN: Is Bill Steer from Carcass someone you have contacted?
MIKE: No, Bill is not into this music anymore. Those guys have not continued playing at that level. They have kept performing for many years. People ask me about a Carcass reunion and that is what I tell them.
METALLIAN: As a concept, do you find that band members are interchangeable? In other words, anyone can leave Arch Enemy or any other band and the band itself should keep marching on?
MIKE: To some degree band members are interchangeable. All the band I have been into have had line-up changes all the time. Things happen and you have to ask yourself what the core of the band is and what the ambition is every time something comes up. The question is are we having fun and if you are not having fun you should not do it at all.
METALLIAN: On a differnt note, what about the contention that Arch Enemy cancels shows too often? You have cancelled one-off shows in Buffalo, Ozzfest dates, pulled out of festivals and European and American tours et cetra.
MIKE: We recently cancelled one show and that was because our bus broke down. We have had quite a lot of bad luck. We have also risen very quickly as a band. We went from the underground to being one of the most successful extreme metal bands. Some bands do a three-week tour every second year and go back to their day jobs. We don't do that. We do this every day. We work really hard. We have played many shows and done many tours. When you tour as much as we do then you run into health problems and other stuff. Shit happens. There are no drug problems. That is not a problem.
METALLIAN: Thanks for addressing the concern, Mike. How about we talk about a couple of the new songs?
MIKE: Nemesis is one of my favourites. It has a very fast pace. It is driven by the double bass drums which I always like. It is also very melodic, although it has brutal verses. I like it a lot. It is like a perfect song. It is the perfect Arch Enemy song. I really wanted to have that song pushed into people's faces first. I thought the record company might want to push a more commercial song that is mid-tempo, but they totally got off Nemesis. They wanted it to be the radio and the video song. I thought that sounds good. It is the song that is being played everywhere now.
Machtkampf is another song where we tried to blend the brutality and the heaviness. It has a classic metal approach and riff. We don't really have melodic vocals so we work with the guitars to underline the melodies. I hear other bands doing it, but nobody does it as well as Arch Enemy.
Taking Back My Soul is another one of my favourites. It has some quite heavy old Megadeth-type riffing. Old Megadeth is one of my inspirations. Their riffs were different in the early days. When I was a young metal kid I picked up on that a lot. I played along to Megadeth and that is in my blood. That actually is the song that is going down well with the Japanese audience. It is technical. The players that we have in the band are monsters. Daniel, for example, plays with such feeling and precision and that goes for every member. We are the creme de la creme of the extreme metal scene. The way I view it is that it's all about confidence. I spent every day of my life dedicated to my craft, metal and Arch Enemy. We are very into song. Arch Enemy, for me, is extreme metal and about good songs.
METALLIAN: Finally, here is a question that we should address for entertainment purposes. There is a band out there which was formed after Arch Enemy called Arch Nemesis, a name which means arch enemy. Aside from the band names' similarity you now have a song called Nemesis.
MIKE: That is a coincidence. I have hear of them. I have seen their name on the Internet. It would be funny if someone thought they were buying an Arch Enemy CD and bought their album. Someone would be in a store thinking what the name of that 'Arch' band was and picks up their CD. They have got a good idea then! There you go, we are doing a little promotion for them.
METALLIAN: Thank you for the interview, Mike.
MIKE: The Doomsday Machine is coming, Ali. You better be ready. This is just the beginning for us...
For more information on the Swedes and for photographic updates of their tours head over to www.archenemy.net. Watch this space for all updates, of course.
Another year, another accomplished Arch Enemy album, right? Well, yeah, but that is nothing to sneeze at. Then there are newer potential fans that might not yet have heard the band or have a vague idea of the band's potential. Ali "The Metallian" spoke with Michael Amott who along with brother and guitarist Christopher Amott, singer Angela Gossow, bassist Sharlee D'Angelo and drummer Daniel Erlandsson comprises the quintet. The newest album is called Rise Of The Tyrant and available now! So buy it (but first read the interview). - 01.10.2007
METALLIAN: Michael, which city are you in right now?
MICHAEL: We are in Cleveland today.
METALLIAN: That is such a coincidence. The last time we spoke you could not tell which city you were in which is so 'Spinal Tap.' Cleveland is also the first place I associate with Spinal Tap for obvious reasons.
MICHAEL: That must have been while we were on Ozzfest. With that festival you usually are not in a city. You are out in arenas in the middle of nowhere.
METALLIAN: Michael, your brother Christopher has returned to the fold just in time to record the new album. Seeing that he missed the touring for the last album and how, according to Angela, he is more into jazz than anything else how much is he into the group nowadays?
MICHAEL: I think he is into the band more than before now. I don't really know what Chris likes. He likes different types of music. Metal is one of them. He is into Arch Enemy though for sure.
METALLIAN: Is it necessary to be into metal when you are a member of a heavy metal band?
MICHAEL: I listen to metal! I am still inspired by the old stuff I grew up listening to. I also find out about the old bands that I missed when I was growing up. I like the older sound; the older metal. I like the original metal sound. I find that inspiring. I like the originators of the thrash scene for instance. I listen to Judas Priest, Accept, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, old Metallica and old Megadeth.
METALLIAN: Why does Rise Of The Tyrant feature less solos and leads playing off one another?
MICHAEL: I think it has more actually! It is more active on the guitar front. It is more intricate and has more guitar arrangements. There are more melodies and guitar solos on this album. That was something we were going for on this album. We wanted to make an album that was action-packed.
METALLIAN: Vultures, which ends the album, is probably the best song on the album.
MICHAEL: Yeah, a few people like that song. It is a mid-tempo song and has a great melody. That is a song that Chris and I wrote.
We put a lot of thought into the arrangements and the flow of the albums. We do that every time. I like to think we always end our albums in a strong way. I love that song. It is also the longest song. It has a miniature epic feel to it.
METALLIAN: Were you deliberately going for a Classical angle with the inclusion of the instrumental, Intermezzo Liberté?
MICHAEL: I think that is part of metal. I think metal is the meeting of Classical music and hard rock/metal. I grew up listening to many bands that were experimenting with that style in the '80s. I have always liked that. That instrumental is actually the guitar solo piece I was playing on our last heading tour. I just rearranged it.
We have always had Neoclassical on the album. There are some bands that have too much of that. They are rooted in that style too much and become a little boring. For us, it is something we add as flavour.
METALLIAN: Given how you are a veteran of the scene, where do you think metal is going as a music or sound?
MICHAEL: Many things are called metal now that I wouldn't necessarily consider metal. It is not my type of metal anyway. There is some confusion it seems. So many things are called metal now that I would not consider metal. Since metal has been almost dead in some territories, like in America, now everything is metal. I think there are some ingredients that you need to be metal and those bands... I don't know what makes them metal. It doesn't kick my ass, but I am not the target audience for emo, fashioncore, whatever. So I cannot really complain.
I like some of the bands we tour with and I don't like some of the others. Most of them are, however, nice people.
I don't know where it's all going. Surely, the United States' fascination with Swedish metal must be dying out now. I think all the At The Gates riffs have been used. And all the Meshuggah riffs. There is a lot of fusion now. Most bands are a fusion of hardcore with metal. In America you find a lot of Pantera influences. That is considered 'old school' metal in America. A lot of people listening to metal got into it ten years ago. Pantera used to be a huge band then. I always try to look to see what is going on and we do the opposite of that. We could be much bigger - if we had done what other bands are doing - but we are too aware of where we come from for that. I always saw it as my mission to have this blend of brutality and melody in the way that melody comes from the guitars. I don't think having Angela singing cleanly or having emo type lyrics or raps works. I have seen so many trends come and go. When I was in Carcass people would absolutely laugh at us for not including electronic beats and for having guitar solos. People thought that was funny. Now everyone wants to play guitar solos again. It is hard to predict what will become popular.
I haven't heard our sound being copied that much. That is because it is actually quite hard to do. You have to be at a certain level to play like we do. Some bands have a signature style and some bands will never be copied. You have to copy the ingredients not just one thing from that band. People sometimes tell me a band is influenced by Arch Enemy, but I don't really hear it.
Many bands influenced us. One of those bands is Mercyful Fate. The way we start the song Vultures or when the drums come in influenced by the album Them. We take little things like that, but it becomes boring when you take everything from someone else. We mix it up and hopefully we get an original sound at the end of it.
METALLIAN: Do you ever see yourself becoming an elder statesman of metal or a figure like Gene Simmons or Ozzy Osbourne who are as active outside music as they are with music?
MICHAEL: I don't really think I have the business mind for that stuff. Maybe I would do it, but in different ways. I think everybody wants to make money from their work, but there are certain ways that are tasteless, I guess. I mean I was a huge Kiss fan growing up. I still enjoy Kiss' old stuff, but basically now you see Gene Simmons stuff and you try to ignore that. It is too much. It is not music-related. It is about some way to make more money.
The band's website is at www.archenemy.net
If you enjoyed this, read Halford