Carnage, Carcass, Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars. What do these bands have in common? Precisely, the well-known riff-master Michael Amott. One of the most popular bands he’s been a integral part of, Arch Enemy, have a brand new album called “Will To Power”, due to be out in September. Furthermore, they’ll be back for two Greek dates, and Metalpaths couldn’t let that chance slip. Below you’ll find the interview that took place on the 4th of July about the bands’ line up right now, the tour and much more.
Good afternoon Michael. Your new album “Will To Power” will be out on September 8th via Century Media. What are your thoughts now that the record is done and waiting to go out to the Arch Enemy fans?
Good afternoon, greetings from Germany. Well, now we finished the album that we’ve worked on for so long and so intensively, you know. Now is the first time that we step back from it and listen to what people like yourself think about it. And it’s an exciting time of course. I’m slowly starting to get a perspective on the album. You know when you work very hard on something very closely, it’s hard to get a perspective. But I think we did a good job.
When can we expect to hear the albums’ first single?
I think very soon (laughs) (editors’ note: 10 days later the “The World Is Yours” video clip came out).
Is it going to be a videoclip like “War Eternal”?
Well, yeah, there will be a videoclip and digital single and stuff like that, for sure.
Your previous album “War Eternal” was mostly received as a return to form for Arch Enemy, marking also Alissa’s vocal debut . This record will be Jeff Loomis’s debut as your guitar partner. What was done differently this time?
Actually, I wrote most of the music myself. I did that with Daniel, he’s playing drums of course and he’s also the songwriting partner that I have. Jeff wasn’t involved in that part. But he came to Sweden and played his guitar solos.
And since he wrote at least some of the stuff on the new album, how much did the touring with him on the final stages of the “War Eternal” tour help to build chemistry between you two?
Well, actually, he didn’t write anything on the album. But we have a great chemistry anyway. We play material great and he’s been a great addition to the band. He really enjoys playing and touring with us.
As a warm up for this release, you released the “As The Stages Burn” DVD in late March, summing up the previous albums’ touring experience. Apart from the touring experience with Jeff, what are your most important moments from that tour?
At that point we were very fortunate. We reached a new level of popularity as a band. And it was something very exciting. We’ve always enjoyed playing in Arch Enemy, but of course when things are going so well and we gain so many new fans it’s a very exciting time for the band. We’ve been having a lot of fun, good atmosphere.
Do you think the fans have embraced the new line up with Alissa and Jeff?
Ah, it’s been going so well, the band’s much bigger now, so I guess yes (laughs).
The new album’s artwork was done by Alex Reisfar. In the press kit you seemed very happy with the result. Which was the key element in his work that made you think that he was the perfect guy for the “Will To Power” artwork?
Well, I liked that he did hand-painted, hand-crafted, handmade oil painting. Gives it a very real feel, really authentic handmade feel. I like that. And because the album is like that. Arch Enemy is about real performances by real musicians. And it’s great to have that continued through to the artwork as well. Also, I like his really dark and surrealistic style. So, yeah, it’s a pleasure working with him.
I really think that this artwork is the best you’ve ever done in recent years and releases. Has a really old school feel in it, yet really modern.
Yeah, it’s very nice (laughs) I’m super happy with it. It looks classic, it looks timeless.
Yeah, it would look good on LP or something.
As a follow-up question, what are the lyrical topics this time for Arch Enemy?
Well, lyrically this album is very diverse, actually, as it is musically. So I’d say it’s going all over the place. There’s kind of political stuff like “The World Is Yours”, “Blood In The Water”. Even “The Race” is quite political I think. There’s songs about a dream I had, it’s pure fantasy, it’s “Dreams Of Retribution”. And then there’s songs which deal with more recent history, which at least I wrote “First Day In Hell”, it’s some of the heaviest lyrics on the album. Then there’s songs like “My Shadow And I” and “A Fight I Must Win” which deal with the topic of depression, but from completely different perspectives. So there’s a lot of variety I think on the album.
Will we be witnessing the same variety music-wise? Cause we saw some experiments on some songs on the “War Eternal” record, on “Avalanche” you had some orchestras and stuff.
Yeah, I think this is one of the most diverse albums we’ve ever made. I think it’s going to be very cool for the fans, it’s quite a journey.
Another question about the new album, about Alissa. How was it for her the second time recording with Arch Enemy? Was she more comfortable this time?
Well, I think so, yeah. Some things we had to do last time was to get to know each other, learn how to communicate. And that stuff came together very quickly, actually. This time, we went straight into it. We’ve done almost 300 concerts around the world together, toured around the planet like crazy for 3 years together, so communication is much easier now.
So it was a more relaxed recording process compared to the “War Eternal” one?
Well, she spent about a month in Sweden I think, because we finished up the new songs with her and so forth. But yeah, it’s about a month she spent in Sweden.
While touring for the “War Eternal” record, you’re also no longer a part of the English Carcass. Does your departure from Carcass help you focus more on the Arch Enemy stuff?
Well maybe yeah, I don’t know (laughs). I haven’t played for a long time. 7 or 8 years. It’s really a long time ago. I can’t really compare.
As one of the forefathers of the melodic death metal genre with Carcass and Arch Enemy, what are your thoughts on the melodic death scene today, as one of the most popular ones?
I don’t know really, I don’t know. I’ve always never been really concerned with the scene. I’m only concerned about Michael Amott (laughs).
Do you think there are bands out there from the ones you listen to that stand out? Or releases that sparked your interest or something?
I don’t know, I’m really bad at that. I don’t really pay much attention to what’s going on. I just focus on my own music really. I do listen to a lot of music but it’s usually older music or totally different music.
And where do you draw inspiration from when writing stuff for Arch Enemy?
All over the place. You know I don’t really have a limit. And it’s everything that I grew up on, something new, something I might hear in the background and it captures my attention. Could be anything you know (laughs). Sometimes I don’t listen to music for days at home and then I pick up a guitar and suddenly I write new songs out of nowhere. So you never know when it’s gonna happen.
You’ve currently announced your first European tour in September for the promotion of the “Will To Power” album and you’re coming to Greece for two gigs with Jinjer. Since you’ve come to Greece 3 times (2007, 2011, 2015) what are your memories from those gigs?
Ah, I’ve really enjoyed it! I’ve always enjoyed playing in Greece, both in the older times with the different bands I’ve played in, Spiritual Beggars, Arch Enemy. It’s always been great. Great fans down there.
What can the fans expect from those Arch Enemy shows in September?
Well, it’s gonna be a totally new show. The “Will To Power” world tour will have just begun at that point, and it’s gonna be amazing (laughs). It’s gonna be new songs, different songs, new production and new look. New stage show, absolutely.
You’ve played with many legendary bands. You’ve mentioned Spiritual Beggars, I mentioned Carcass before, Arch Enemy of course. They’ve all left their own stamp on the metal history. Is there something, throughout all those years, that you would like to achieve and haven’t achieved for some reason?
I don’t know really, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot mostly, you know (laughs). I’m very pleased with what I’ve done. So I haven’t really thought about that too much. Especially with Arch Enemy we made a lot of new experiences, because it’s grown into something quite big with international success, playing most countries all around the world and putting on a bigger show and stuff like that. There’s a lot of interest in Arch Enemy (laughs). So it’s a great feeling you know, to be part of something like that. I’m very happy actually, I’m very satisfied. I never had a big dream to play in a huge band but I guess now I am. I just wanted to play in a good band.
And you’ve been very fortunate to be one of the longest remaining bands on Century Media records, it’s been 20 years.
It actually is. They’re really good friends, many people that work here. We feel very comfortable working with them. It’s definitely become something that’s a very enjoyable process, working with them and stuff.
What are the future plans for Arch Enemy?
Well, it’s all about the tour really now (laughs). Apart from the tour….I don’t know. There’s so much going on right now, full promotion and all that stuff. Beyond the tour, I have no idea. I can’t really look that far forward to the future.
So that was about it Michael. Thanks a lot for your time, it’s been a huge honour hosting you on Metalpaths and you get to say the final words to the Arch Enemy fans.
Thank you for listening and thank you for reading, whatever. And thank you for the support. We’re very much looking forward to coming back down to Greece very soon. So, see you there!