Anarchistic Entity

24 April 2012 | 9:00 am | Brendan Crabb

More Arch Enemy More Arch Enemy

Arch Enemy guitarist Michael Amott remarked in a recent interview that religion is always a popular target for the band. However, latest effort, Khaos Legions, makes the Swedish metal act's strongest lyrical statement yet, a distinct anarchist streak and call for self-empowerment permeating throughout. German-born frontwoman Angela Gossow says given their close geographical proximity, the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa hit extremely close to home and inevitably impacted on the writing. However, she was pleasantly surprised to discover their music has connected with those in some of the most troubled parts of our world.

“That's been very influential on us, because that was all people had been talking about and was always in the news,” she explains. “You fly two-and-a-half hours and you're in Tunisia, where [they] really started the revolution; it's two-and-a-half hours' flight to Egypt, it's not far from where we live really. We do have quite a lot of metal fans from there that actually keep writing us emails or through Twitter and Facebook, they're saying that Arch Enemy songs from previous albums like Revolution Begins really mean something to them in that aspect, that they're kind of experiencing exactly what we're singing about. So that was a huge influence on the lyrical side of things and also on the cover artwork.

“The sad thing is that it hasn't really resolved… It's over a year old now and it's still quite horrendous what's going on there and like when you look at Egypt, people still haven't really got their justice yet. So they have to keep on fighting, the solution hasn't come yet. But there is obvious change of course. I'm sure it's going to come into the next album somewhere, because I find that fascinating… The interesting fact is also that a lot of the leaders in the revolution, the bloggers that go out there and risk their lives are actually women, which in the context of most of these countries, actually Muslim countries, is even more interesting, that it's actually women leading the revolution. So I'm naturally interested in that, how females play a role there and how society's changing over there, what it means to them, the politics of the religion and how it's shaping, changing the whole country set-up there.”

While inspired by current events, the band's own day-to-day activities also played a key role within Khaos Legions. “Arch Enemy is one of the few bands that are self-managed, so we kind of live, we kind of operate like an old school punk band in a way. We do all our own business, book most of our shows ourselves, do all our merchandise, we do everything ourselves. So this is quite an anarchistic way to live in the business today, where everybody is signing horrible deals, giving away their merch, publishing and royalty rights and being ripped off by some manager. That's how the music business usually looks like and we are a very autonomous, anarchistic entity in the music business. So it's also part of how we feel, how we live our lives and how we do the band.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

That approach extended to the recent departure of long-time guitarist Chris Amott, which the band chose not to reveal for several months before its March announcement. They've since recruited new shredder Nick Cordle (Arsis). “Yeah, that obviously has not been the turmoil now, because we've known since October, that's when Chris told us that he wanted to leave. We kept it under wraps because we wanted to complete the December/January tour with him and we're just not a band that really likes to have a lot of drama in the media and surrounding the band. We're rather quiet about private stuff. He just said that he is not really into this kind of music that we play anymore, he wants to do his own thing; he wants to start a solo career and feels like this is a good time now. Obviously we were a little bit disappointed because it's the second time he's leaving the band. But there's actually no hard feelings, we just accepted it and said, 'Okay, you do your own thing and we're going to find somebody who wants to be in Arch Enemy, wants to play all these many shows that we play, is really excited about it and motivated.'”

The chemistry between the Amott brothers was a major factor in their success, but aside from believing the lineup shift would inject new life into the band, Gossow has also been pleasantly surprised by other aspects of their new axeman. “The interesting thing is that Nick is actually very much like Chris. His playing is very similar and he's got the same sort of feel and style. That's the fucked-up thing; he looks like Chris ten or fifteen years ago,” she laughs. “You look at the booklet from [2001 album] Wages Of Sin and you look at Nick now, he looks like Chris. We noticed that on the Arsis tour; it was just like looking at Chris on stage, which was a very odd feeling at the time because Chris is standing next to me,” she laughs again. “I think if fans don't even know that we've got someone else in the band I don't think they'd even notice the difference, to be honest. We had him over here in January to rehearse and it's a very similar vibe playing with him. So this is a little bit spooky actually.” When it's jokingly suggested that perhaps a secret visit by Amott Snr to the US a few decades ago might explain the similarities, she chuckles. “Yeah, exactly, maybe he's got a little brother there or something. Maybe it's like his twin brother that's been roaming the planet but looks younger than Chris by about ten years.”

Despite the change, there's no rest for the wicked if they're hard-touring metal band. This includes a lightning fast two-date stopover in Australia; but fans be forewarned – you're unlikely to see Arch Enemy again on these shores anytime soon.

“We want to take 2013 off, just maybe play a few shows somewhere, maybe a couple of festivals, but no flying around the globe for shows,” the vocalist emphasises. “We want to do a DVD, because we're confirming a bunch of shows already and we're going to film some more shows on the upcoming tours. We want to write a new album and we don't want to have any kind of deadlines or stress. So we're just going to take 2013 off and dedicate it to making new stuff. Then we're probably going to release it sometime in 2014 and start touring again, most likely first in Europe and the US. I think the next time we come over to Australia's going to be in probably 2016,” she laughs. “So if you want to see the band live, come out to Melbourne or Sydney, because it's going to be a while before we come back.”