ARCH ENEMY Guitarist: 'We Haven't Had To Sell Out, Which Is A Satisfying Feeling'

Jeff Maki of recently conducted an interview with guitarist Michael Amott of Swedish/German extreme metallers ARCH ENEMY. A few excerpts from the chat follow below. I wrote in my review of the new album, "Khaos Legions", that it seemed like it was the third part of a trilogy, along with the earlier albums, "Wages Of Sin" and "Anthems Of Rebellion". Would you consider this an accurate statement on my part?
Michael Amott: It can be whatever you want it to be. For us, it's just another album. But yeah, I can see some similarities with both of those records absolutely. But I think that we sort of try to do different things along the way. Every new album is kind of a reaction to the previous album. If we went heavily into a direction on one album, then we want to do something a little bit different on the next. You're always going to have those key elements of ARCH ENEMY's style of extreme metal: Angela's [Gossow]'s voice, the guitar playing, drumming and everything. From what you're saying, there was no real consensus within the band to get back to the sound and feel of those older albums at all?

Michael Amott: Well, I think with "Rise Of The Tyrant", we started going back to guitar solos and more harmonies like we did in the earlier days. But I think the mix on that album let it down. It didn't sound as good, sonically. But I think we got it right with "Khaos Legions". There's a lot of clarity in the sound, and good songs, I think. So I think we got it right. What is the meaning of "Khaos Legions"? Is it meant as the fans of ARCH ENEMY, or is there an overall concept to the album title?

Michael Amott: Angela wrote a lot of lyrics, and she came up with the title as well. I think on the album there's a lot of talk of chaos and creation in the world. We're atheists, so we believe in science and that the world was created out of chaos the Big Bang Theory. So I think there's some of that in there, but there are also a few political leanings in the lyrics. We were a bit inspired by what was going on in North Africa while we were making the record uprisings and so forth. I really like the album cover. I think it's somewhat IRON MAIDEN-esque. I don't know if you would agree or not.

Michael Amott: Yeah, musically we've always been a band that's had a lot of traditional metal in our sound. It's really been a big part of our sound, sonically and musically. But graphic-wise, in the past, we've gone for a not so much of a traditional metal approach. So we just thought it would be cool to have something like that, and it looks great on vinyl. And it's just like you said, something that would be [in the style] of classic JUDAS PRIEST or something. When making an album, do you ever consider having a song that's maybe a "crossover"-type song? It just seems to me especially here in the U.S. that I've come across a lot of people that just haven't heard you guys. I'm not talking about a complete sell-out but maybe something that could be on radio, maybe in the realm of METALLICA's "Black Album." Something like that wouldn't be too far out of the realm from some things you're doing now. Would you ever consider a crossover to draw in a larger audience?

Michael Amott: That's a good question a difficult question, really. If we could do it right. If it comes naturally and you write a song that has some crossover potential, then you need the whole machine behind it a record label to put a lot of effort into promoting it to radio and stuff like that. And we just haven't been that kind of band. We kind of pride ourselves on not selling out. I see a lot of bands that are metal bands per se, but they are really, really trying to get on the radio and really trying to cover all the bases. They're taking everything with what is popular right now how they structure the music, how it sounds, how they look, how they present themselves. And I think that kind of thing seems really forced. So we're kind of anti-that. We don't have clean vocals on our albums. We all come from a musical background where it's more of an extreme music thing. There's been a lot of talk about the "Big Four," and one of the bands that I really respect out of those four bands is SLAYER because they're just uncompromising, diehard, extreme metal. People over the top of them must have been trying to get them to do a song for radio at some point, but no, I never heard one from them. I like to model my career (after that). They stick to their guns and stay true to what they believe in.

Michael Amott: When I grew up, I wanted to train to be in an extreme metal band. I wanted to thrash, and I was listening to SLAYER, MEGADETH and METALLICA, of course. All those bands, plus some hardcore and punk stuff, as well. And I never really thought that music was going to be a career, that I could have this as a job. But now it does after all of these years, and ARCH ENEMY does very well on a worldwide basis. But it's all on our terms, musically. We haven't had to sell out, which is a satisfying feeling.

Read the entire interview from


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