The Rebellion Is Rising
CoC chats with Christopher Amott of Arch Enemy
by: Jackie Smit
It seemed an unlikely proposition after the release of 1999's _Burning Bridges_ opus, that Sweden's Arch Enemy would in a relatively short period of time ascend to the peak that they have at our present point in time. Indeed, an even more improbable scenario circa the late nineties, was that this band would transcend the ranks of standard death metal and begin a flirtation with the mainstream that now sees them within a hairsbreadth of taking extreme music to the masses. But, as the overwhelming response to their latest record, _Anthems of Rebellion_, and the praise garnered from such respected stalwarts as Slayer and Hatebreed (with whom they currently share a bill on the US Jagermeister Tour) would indicate, Arch Enemy are very much a band whose time has come. Christopher Amott -- one half of the creative nucleus that powers the band -- is hesitant to take much of this with any semblance of seriousness though, preferring instead to joke about the band's arrogance having gotten them to the point where they are today. Yet, one listen to _Anthems of Rebellion_ reveals that not to be the case.

CoC: _Anthems of Rebellion_ hints -- to myself at least -- that Arch Enemy chose to shift away from a lot of the traditional Swedish-style melodies they were using toward a more old-school, and almost Carcass-style approach. Would you agree?

Christopher Amott: Carcass? I think that has more to do with Michael [Amott]'s riff style really, which is inspired by things like Rainbow and Deep Purple. But the album is definitely more aggressive, which I think had a lot to do with the arrangement of the songs this time round. We certainly tried to make the songs a bit more straightforward, where in the past we would make a conscious effort to incorporate clean and progressive stuff into a lot of the songs. But we always try to do something different on each album, and with this record we added the clean vocals, the keyboards and the down-tuned stuff. Also, this was the first record where we actually did pre-production, so it ended up being a lot of hard work. At the end of the day, we're all extremely pleased with how _Anthems of Rebellion_ came out. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, it's everything a heavy metal album should be. It's very dynamic and very diverse. We always try and mix in various influences ranging from progressive rock, to death, to thrash, to black metal. We're music fans all of us, and we listen to a lot of stuff. Probably the most die-hard death metal fan out of all of us would be Angela. Whenever we get off stage and we're in the bus, she always insists listening to Morbid Angel or Deicide or whatever, while the rest of us just want to relax and listen to some seventies rock. <laughs>

CoC: I'm saying this purely as a compliment -- I was never much of an Arch Enemy fan and I was very impressed by _Anthems of Rebellion_ despite being quite sceptical. Do you feel that this record has the potential to convert many more to the Arch Enemy cause?

CA: Yeah, definitely. It's not something we really think of while we're recording, but you always want a good reaction. When you're recording, you're just basically lost in whatever you're doing, and I haven't yet had the chance to listen to and compare this with earlier stuff; but it could definitely turn on a few new people, I think.

CoC: Arch Enemy has been getting a lot of press attention, especially after Angela joined -- did this increased profile place more pressure on you to deliver the goods this time round?

CA: Not really. We just do our thing. We write for ourselves, and of course we want to sell albums and sell out shows -- all bands want that; they'd be lying if they said that wasn't the case. But we've never really had to compromise, and we just play whatever comes naturally. Maybe we're just not fussy enough. <laughs>

CoC: It also strikes me how much more settled Angela sounded this time round.

CA: Definitely. We played over a hundred shows in support of _Wages of Sin_, and plus, she now has a different technique that she uses. She went to a vocal coach, who changed how she breathed and how she projected her voice. And I think that she's also more settled in on a personal level. I mean, she was always ready to give 100%, so there's never been a problem with that, but she has definitely gained a lot of confidence.

CoC: Did Arch Enemy employ the same songwriting process that you have before for _Anthems of Rebellion_?

CA: Pretty much. It's usually Mike and myself that write the basic riffs, and then there's a lot of jamming that basically moulds it to where it becomes an Arch Enemy song. And really, anything can inspire us -- maybe it's something new that we just heard or a film that we saw; anything, really...

CoC: Speaking of hearing new music -- what's the most impressive thing that you've heard recently?

CA: I have to tell you that I have the musical taste of an old man. I like the last In Flames album and the new Nevermore was really good. But it's strange nowadays, because bands are so categorized. I mean, you have twenty bands playing one style of power metal and twenty others playing one style of death metal. Everybody has to be in the same vein and I think that's really boring.

CoC: And do you feel that Arch Enemy has transcended these categories?

CA: Well, I hope so. I suppose bands like Nile or Rhapsody see themselves in the same light, and I don't know if we're especially original. But, anyway -- we try.

CoC: So, out of all the different shows and festivals that you've played during the last year, what stands out as a personal highlight?

CA: Well, there's been so many, I don't really know, to be honest. I think that Download was really cool. We had a big crowd there and the vibe was excellent. The two shows we played with Iron Maiden in Europe were amazing as well. I'm a huge fan of theirs, of course, and to meet Bruce Dickinson and just see the whole Maiden stage production in action was incredible.

CoC: Would you hope to see Arch Enemy moving into a more theatrical stage production in the future?

CA: Well, we're all big fans of that and we do our best shows on big stages. We like running around and making fools of ourselves. It's cool playing in clubs as well -- I mean, any show is cool as long as the fans are enjoying themselves.

CoC: I remember seeing you open for Opeth at the [London] Mean Fiddler last year and you did seem a bit claustrophobic on such a small stage.

CA: A little, yeah -- we like to be able to move around.

CoC: So, looking at the present-day metal scene -- what do you feel sets Arch Enemy apart from the rest of the pack?

CA: I don't know... arrogance? <laughs> We get accused of being arrogant all the time, but seriously though, I do feel that we're a bit different and I do think that we offer something for everything. There's the technical playing for the musos and there's the heavy stuff for the metalheads. There's a lot of stuff for people to sink their teeth into.

CoC: Christopher, it's been great talking to you.

CA: Thanks. We'll be on tour quite extensively in the upcoming months and I hope that we'll see a lot of you out there.

(article submitted 23/11/2003)


CHATS
3/30/2009 P Williams Arch Enemy: Die Walk├╝re
9/1/2002 P Schwarz Arch Enemy: Receiving Payment For Crimes Against God
7/7/1999 P Schwarz Arch Enemy: Arched Bridges Beware
9/1/1998 A Bromley Arch Enemy: Unearthing the Demons Within
ALBUMS
11/21/2007 J Ulrey 7.5 Arch Enemy - Rise of the Tyrant
10/17/2005 J Smit 8 Arch Enemy - Doomsday Machine
11/29/2004 J Smit 5 Arch Enemy - Dead Eyes See No Future
8/22/2003 J Smit 8.5 Arch Enemy - Anthems of Rebellion
10/19/2001 C Flaaten 8.5 Arch Enemy - Wages of Sin
1/10/2001 P Schwarz 8.5 Arch Enemy - Burning Japan Live
7/7/1999 P Schwarz 9.5 Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges
7/8/1998 P Schwarz 8.5 Arch Enemy - Stigmata
GIGS
5/8/2009 P Williams Motorhead / Arch Enemy / Opeth / Chimaira / August Burns Red / Nervecell / Hatred / Scarab Dubai Desert Rock Festival 2009
6/11/2008 A Lineker Opeth / Arch Enemy / Devildriver / 3 Inches of Blood Before the Watershed
2/16/2004 A Lineker Arch Enemy / Akercocke Sad Eyes Question Future.
10/13/2003 P Schwarz Arch Enemy / Nevermore I'm Dreaming of a Neon Black Earth...
3/16/2003 A Lineker Arch Enemy / Corporation 187 / Without Face King Tut's Burning Angel Hut
3/5/2000 P Schwarz Arch Enemy London's Bridges Are Burning
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