Time passes, the world changes, but some things remain constant and unassailable. Heavy metal has endured for more than four decades because its spirit is eternal, and few bands embody the intensity, integrity and lofty artistic ambitions of the genre with more dazzling aplomb than Arch Enemy. Formed in Sweden in the mid-90s by former Carcass/Carnage guitarist Michael Amott, this most explosive and proficient of modern metal bands have spent the last 20 years propagating an unerring creed of technical excellence, songwriting genius and thunderous, irresistible live performance, accruing a huge global fan base along the way. And now, in 2017, Arch Enemy are ready to rise again and climb ever further up the ladder toward pure metal supremacy.
“The band's core musical philosophy hasn't changed much since I started the band,” says Amott. “It's still about creating intense heavy metal with extreme vocals and a lot of melody in the guitars. We've always loved writing and meticulously crafting the best songs possible, that's the main motivation for us.”
When Arch Enemy released their debut album Black Earth in 1996, death metal was stagnating and in desperate need of a kick up the ass. Amott’s blueprint for the purest of metal strains proved an instant underground hit, both in Europe and Japan, and almost single-handedly resurrected death metal as a viable art form with mainstream potential. Signed to Century Media Records for 1998’s sophomore effort Stigmata, Arch Enemy marched purposefully towards a new millennium with a rapidly growing reputation. 1999’s Burning Bridges added to the band’s momentum, their razor-sharp blend of brutality and epic melody becoming more refined with each creative step. But it was in 2001, when original vocalist Johan Liiva stood aside and mercurial frontwoman Angela Gossow stepped in, that Arch Enemy truly took off.
Released in 2001 in Japan and nearly a year later in Europe, Wages Of Sin showcased a revitalised line-up and newfound gift for immortal anthems, Gossow’s feral roar adding many layers of charisma and power to Arch Enemy’s already monstrous sound. Swiftly dedicating themselves to a relentless touring schedule, the band’s upward trajectory continued throughout the first decade of the 21st century, with each successive album enhancing the band’s reputation and bringing legions of new fans to this resolute heavy metal campaign. Albums like 2003’s vicious Anthems Of Rebellion and 2011’s pitch-black and savage Khaos Legions ensured that Amott and his loyal henchmen – Gossow, drummer Daniel Erlandsson, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo and Michael’s guitarist sibling Christopher - remained firmly at the top of the extreme metal tree: respected veterans at the height of their powers.
“Surviving and thriving in the metal scene is not always easy,” Amott admits. “ Contrary to what I've seen a lot of people say, I feel the scene is actually quite trend driven and it's impossible to be at the peak of your popularity all the time. In the past two decades we've seen a lot of trends and bands come and go. What I've always believed to be important is to stay true to yourself and the reasons why you started. Why you love music must always be at the forefront. I'm pretty good at keeping the 15-year-old Michael Amott alive in my heart!”
Always focused but impervious to other’s rules and expectations, Arch Enemy evolved once more in 2015 following the departure of Angela Gossow (now the band’s manager). Replacing one of the most iconic vocalists of the modern age was never going to be easy, but in the shape of former The Agonist frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz, Arch Enemy found the perfect candidate. Unveiled on the ferocious, anthem-laden triumph of 2014’s War Eternal, Alissa’s powerful identity and extraordinary vocal talents proved a natural and instantly welcomed fit. Further extensive touring cemented the new line-up’s thrilling efficacy, before one final line-up change – the arrival of legendary guitarist Jeff Loomis, formerly of Nevermore – completed the musical puzzle that Amott had been tinkering with for the best part of 20 years.