Arch Enemy has been going through a lot of changes recently. After the change in the line up—with Alissa White-Gluz replacing former lead singer Angela Gossow—the Swedish melodic death metal band has released a new album, War Eternal, and kicked off their U.S. tour. Blast’s Sinan Pehlivanoglu caught up with the band in one of their first stops, in Worcester. Be sure to check out his interview with founding member and guitarist Michael Amott below.
The show started with the opening track of the latest album, “Tempore Nihil Sanat”, giving every member time to come on stage one by one, followed by “Enemy Within” from their earlier album Wages of Sin. The set list included almost all of the band’s old famous songs from Angela Gossow’s era. Including “Ravenous”, “Revolution Begins”, “My Apocalypse”, “Blood Stained Cross”, and many more. Besides all these, the band played both of their famous singles from their latest album; “War Eternal” and “You will Know My Name”. Alissa White-Gluz nailed all of the songs and gave a great performance. The fans seemed to adapt to her style quickly and like her a lot.
The show consisted of two encores towards the end. The first one included the famous song “Yesterday is Dead and Gone”, whereas “Nemesis” was played during the second one. The stage decoration did not include much other than some art consisting of the figures in the artwork of the “War Eternal”, however the energy of the band members was more than enough to keep the fire burning and push the audience into mosh pits and crowd surfing.
Blast Magazine: So let me start with the usual question. The tour has just kicked off. How is it? How’d you expect it to be?
Michael Amott: This will be the third show. It has been great. We played Baltimore and we played NYC last night. Good stuff, it’s exciting to be back. It has been three years and yeah, back with a new album, new line up. We are here with Kreator, one of my favorite trash bands. Fantastic.
Blast: You just released a cover of Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law”, and it received a good response from fans. How did you decide to cover Priest?
Amott: That just came out of fun, studio jam. It is a really, really famous song; we usually cover more obscure tracks we are into. But we worked on it a little bit, tried to make it Arch Enemy-ish and just have fun with it. It is not something too serious you know. But it is a tribute. Priest is one of our main influences.
Blast: You released the album War Eternal a few months ago; how has it been received?
Amott: I like it. [Fan’s responses are] very, very positive and you know, it has been very well received. We cannot ask for anything more than that. We don’t really think about the album when we are creating it. We create our music, we don’t really consider other people’s opinions. Or the media people, you know, because you need to write from your heart. That is what we do. You cannot guess what people are going to be into. Not everybody has to like it. We are getting a lot of new fans and our old fans seem to like it so it’s great.
Blast: What was your best memory from the recording process?
Amott: Writing is always fun. Very creative; open blank pages. I enjoy that a lot. Doing all the demos and stuff. But I have also worked with a strings arranger for the first time, you know recording real strings, real symphony orchestra and stuff. Three songs plus the intro of the album: a total new experience. I went out to his house and kind of showed him what the songs were about and he took it from there, came back with very cool suggestions. We worked those. Recording with real strings was a great experience. Although it is not something really unique, it was totally new for us.
Also working with Alissa, she is amazing. She is pretty much a song-writer’s dream, cause she can do anything with her voice. Very strong voice and very talented writer as well. It was great working with her.
Blast: You had a lot of changes right before the recording process. Was it really hard for you to record this album?
Amott: No, but it made us think a little bit more. We had to do a little bit more than we normally do. Some pretty heavy news and some big changes. We also had a lot of time to write good stuff. We circled around the material, kind of reworked it. Added, subtracted parts.
Blast: How you do you think people are doing, with adapting to Alissa?
Amott: Very well, I am surprised. I am surprised how smooth that transition has been. I can’t believe it. I was thinking we would fall back and slowly work it out back to where we were. I was thinking some people might not like it, but they have been so positive. I guess a change is not always a bad thing.
Blast: In her previous band, Agonist, she was also well known for her clean vocals apart from the growls and screams. I know it is really not your thing but can we expect more of those in the future?
Amott: Who knows? It is early days. We are not thinking about a new album yet. But it depends on where we land. We never had that, a singer who could do those vocals. You know, with that kind of strength. So it is kind of a new weapon in our arsenal. And we don’t know what to do with it yet. Who knows what happens in the future?
Blast: I ask this of many bands from Europe: how would you compare Sweden to the U.S.?
Amott: It is like comparing Saturn to Mars. Two different worlds. It is a different scene over here. Very very different on different levels. Politics, society, people, the general structure. Very different. Everything looks different, like architecture. We go all over the world. Arch Enemy is a global band. We are really lucky, you know? When it comes to the metal scene, everybody has that same passion you know? Music is a universal thing.
Blast: Who are your influences?
Amott: I [find] influence from everything. Classic, hard rock, and heavy stuff, you know, and into to trash and death metal stuff along with the growls. Our influences range from Megadeth, Slayer to Judas Priest. There is a lot of stuff. And not only metal stuff, there is also other music we are into. I get energy from other music and put that in there too. We are still the same band; I wanted something like classical influences and more fast drumming, extreme vocals, really intense with some energy.
Blast: Do you think there will be a fan club in the future?
Amott: We don’t have an official fan club. We tried it once, didn’t work out. You know you need to work really hard; maybe we will try it again in the future. We have a French fan club, a fan started that club and it has got over a thousand members and its really active. The founder is becoming a good friend. You know, that is a really cool thing.
Blast: Any last thing to say to fans, or to any musicians out there?
Amott: We really thank them. We never take it for granted that people will listen to the songs we create or the guitar I play. That gives me a lot of energy right there; I makes me want to be better.