Michael Amott - Arch Enemy, Carcass, Carnage - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints

Over the last ten years we have seen many metal bands come and go and to be honest with you not too many of those bands make lasting impressions on me. Every now and then there will be one band that comes along and just shatters all your expectations. For me one of those bands was Arch Enemy. The band formed in 1996 when guitarist extraordinaire Michael Amott left the legendary death metallers Carcass and ventured out with brother Christopher, then vocalist Johan Liiva and at that time session drummer Daniel Erlandsson to create one the first concrete Arch Enemy line-up. In a little over ten years Arch Enemy has become one of the world's biggest heavy metal acts, constantly touring and releasing brutal and successful albums one after another.

The bands most noticeable change came in 2001 when then amateur journalist Angela Gossow replaced Johan Liiva. The band was now fronted by a beautiful woman with a powerful voice that not only changed the bands dynamics but added the ingredients that Michael was looking for to forge ahead. 2001 saw the release of one of the bands biggest albums "Wages Of Sin", which is the album that for many put Arch Enemy on the map. Since then the band have been busy building an allegiance of fans across the globe and have released some of metals finest metal albums such as "Anthems of Rebellion" and "Doomsday Machine". The bands latest release "Rise of the Tyrant" has smashed chart positions across the world and has Arch Enemy going back to their roots with a heavier, darker album.

With the recent release of "Rise of the Tyrant" Arch Enemy have once again embarked on an extensive world tour which will see the band back in Australia next month as part of the Black Crusade tour with Machine Head and Trivium. Since the bands announcement for the Australian tour, guitarist Michael Amott has also confirmed that death metal legends Carcass will also next year be reuniting for a handful of festival shows across Europe. I caught up with Michael this week to discuss everything that all metal fans are dying to know in regards to next yearís Carcass reunion, killer new album "Rise of the Tyrant" and the bands love for Australia and upcoming tour and much more. It's time to get "Blood on your Hands" with the mighty Michael Amott.


Metal Fanatix: Hi Michael, firstly I want to thank you for taking the time out to speak with us today, it's a true pleasure. How's the tour been going so far?

Michael Amott: The pleasure is all mine, thanks for having me. The tour has been going very well, we just completed thirty or so dates in the U.S. together with Machine Head. Also just been to Japan were we co-headlined the enormous 'Loud Park' festival, which was very awesome! Today we are in Beijing, China! And next after that is Australia.

Metal Fanatix: Which is something we are very excited about and will talk about in a moment. Firstly though, I want to congratulate you on the release of 'Rise of the Tyrant', looking back is there anything you would have changed during the recording process?

Michael Amott: There are always little things that I would like to change on every album I have ever been a part of. I am never 100% happy. But that's going into fine details! Let's say, I am 99% happy with 'Rise of the Tyrant', it's one of this bands proudest moments!

Metal Fanatix: Mate you should be proud, since the albums release, the feedback you have received from fans and critics has been incredible. All over the world 'Rise of the Tyrant 'has been debuting on charts and has climbed to high position's which is fantastic. Do you guys pay much attention to the chart positions or do you set your focuses on other aspects of the business for example the live shows etc?

Michael Amott: Good reviews etc are great, but at the end of the day if you take the hype to heart, the band reviews will crush you. So I have a healthy distance to the media in that sense. As you say. We tend to focus on work at hand... Shows, recordings etc.

Metal Fanatix: When it came time to head back into the studio to do ‘Rise of the Tyrant’, how difficult was it to get the band coordinated and motivated after coming off the back of an extensive world tour?

Michael Amott: That wasn't hard at all, we were very eager to get into the creative phase of writing and recording. All the touring was making us a better band too. Once we hit the studio it was a very cool atmosphere.

Metal Fanatix: I assume you discussed doing an album with the band that was more like the first two Arch Enemy albums! Adding more speed, heaviness and a raw metal sound. Was that something you felt was important on this time around?

Michael Amott: 'Rise Of The Tyrant' has got the whole spectrum of our influences in there. It's got the speed, it's got the heaviness, and it's also got tons of melody, lots of guitar melodies. We just decided to put everything into it and hold nothing back. It's very-action packed, with more intricate arrangements than on our previous couple of albums. It's a little bit faster, a little bit more up-tempo. It's extreme, down-tuned metal with lots of guitar solos, fast drumming and Angela Gossow screaming all over it. I am very proud of the record, I believe it's a career defining moment for us.

Metal Fanatix: To me 'Rise of the Tyrant' seems to be much more a back to the roots of Arch Enemy album and sounds amazing, over the last few years did you feel that the band was heading into a direction musically that you weren't comfortable with?

Michael Amott: No, not at all. Life is too short to make music you don't enjoy!

Metal Fanatix: In a few words tell us what comes to mind when I mention the following tracks from 'Rise of the Tyrant':

Michael Amott:

Blood On Your Hands: Most intricate song we've ever written from a guitar point of view. We open our shows with this now!

In This Shallow Grave: One of the few songs that I contributed with lyrics to on this album. This song has awesome guitar solos and a great energy overall!

Revolution Begins: Straightforward song with some twists and turns. This is the first video we've shot for the album. This song is going down well live!

The Day You Died: Lyrically inspired by the Japanese anime movie 'Grave Of The Fireflies'. Musically it's very different from anything we've ever recorded before.

Metal Fanatix: One of the coolest things about the Japanese version of the new album is the addition of an obscure Kiss classic 'The Oath'. 'The Oath' is one of my all-time favorite Kiss songs all though many fans are opposed to the track and despise the album it came from. Was there any particular reason you chose such an obscure song?

Michael Amott: Hey, obscure is cool! We will never cover 'Smoke On The Water'...if you know what I mean! Besides, 'The Oath' is a great song!

Metal Fanatix: Mate I can’t argue with that! Over the years you have recorded some killer covers including Iron Maiden's 'Aces High', 'The Oath' and also most recently Queensrÿche's 'Walk in the Shadows'. Is there one song that you have always wanted to cover but just haven't had a chance to do?

Michael Amott: Heart - 'Barracuda'

Metal Fanatix: Mate, I would love to hear you doing that song! I want to talk to you about life on the road. As we all know you are heading back to Australia for your third tour in a little over three years. There's no doubt that Australian fans love you and you guys obviously love touring here. What do you look forward to the most when you come to Australia?

Michael Amott: We love playing for you guys, and the vibe of the place in general is killer...we love it!

Metal Fanatix: I caught you live last year and was truly amazed with your performance, and will be attending both Sydney Black Crusade shows. Do you have anything special planned for the Australian fans this time around?

Michael Amott: Thank you! We do what we always do. We are going deliver the full-on Arch Enemy extreme heavy metal attack!

Metal Fanatix: Awesome! Last year I spoke with Angela who was telling me that you guys were looking for properties around the Sydney area, could we perhaps see you relocating here on a more permanent basis?

Michael Amott: [Laughs] Maybe! It is tempting, once the Swedish winter sets in and you are basically in for six months of darkness!

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Even more reason to move here [laughs]! Is there anything you are hoping to do in Australia this time around that you have not had time to do during past visits?

Michael Amott: Nothing I can think of right now!

Metal Fanatix: Last year you were here as part of ‘Gigantour’ and this time around you are on the ‘Black Crusade’ tour with Machine Head and Trivium. You have shared the stage with many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most and could you share a funny road story with us from the tour?

Michael Amott: We've been lucky man, we've toured with Iron Maiden, Slayer, Megadeth. All have been great tours and a lot of fun. I Can't think of any specific funny story right now though. Buy me a beer...

Metal Fanatix: You have a deal mate! Michael, come November Arch Enemy will be playing in Greece for the first time! I'm sure the fans are dying with anticipation to see you live. After all these years, when you find yourself playing somewhere such as Greece live for the first time how do you work out a set list that is for fans of all eras of the band? I mean, there will always be fans who want to hear the older songs and the occasional obscure tracks and of course you have to play and promote the new songs. How do you work out a set list that is for everyone including yourselves?

Michael Amott: We just do what we do, we go in and try to bring the metal as hard as we can. When you play a new territory like the Greece thing, we might customize the set a little.

Metal Fanatix: As a metal fan there is no surprise that I was thrilled with the news last month of a possible Carcass reunion. Since then, it's been announced that Carcass will reform for the 2008 Wacken Open Air festival along side Iron Maiden Kreator and Sonata Arctic. For quite a long time it didn't look like there would ever be any kind of reunion, tell us how it all came about?

Michael Amott: Yes, reforming Carcass next summer for a handful of European festivals! It will be fun to drag the old corpse out again, something I've been wanting to do for a couple of years and now the time is right and everyone doing this is excited and in the right frame of mind. So yeah, it's basically all about timing with these kind of things and the time is now right in '08 for this to happen.

Metal Fanatix: What comes to mind when you look back on those early experiences with Carcass playing those very first shows?

Michael Amott: All good memories! It was early days for all of us. We were 19, 20 years old. Everything was new and fresh. A lot of first time experiences in a lot of areas.

Metal Fanatix: Yeah dude I can imagine! Looking back, did you ever think that all these years later you would be talking about the reunion of one of Metals finest and most influential death metal bands?

Michael Amott: No, I was definitely not thinking along those lines!

Metal Fanatix: Once Arch Enemy leaves Australia you will be touring extensively throughout the U.K. and Europe before a well-deserved break. Has there been any talk about taking the Carcass reunion on a full-scale tour or is this just going to be a handful of festival spots?

Michael Amott: I really have no idea at this point. We are taking things as they come with the whole Carcass thing. We'll start with a handful of festivals in Europe summer of '08 and take it from there. But if fans make enough noise around the world, I am sure it could happen.

Metal Fanatix: I can hear fans screaming with joy of that right now! I guess now that news has spread of a Carcass reunion the million dollar question is will there be a possibility of new Carcass material hitting our shelves in 2008?

Michael Amott: No, that's not something we are talking about at all at this point. This is about getting out there and playing the old material for the fans that never saw it the first time around. Or fans who wish to see it again!

Metal Fanatix: Last year when I interviewed Angela, I asked her, "if she could put any band together consisting of members passed on and or present who would they be" and she replied Carcass. No doubt she was amazed with the news of the reunion, how did the other guys react?

Michael Amott: Everyone thinks it's cool and is supportive. But Angela especially is very happy of course!

Metal Fanatix: Michael what's the craziest rumor you had ever heard about yourself and or Arch Enemy?

Michael Amott: I hear something weird every other day! We are a rumor friendly band!

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Mate, you grew up influenced by some of the greatest bands in rock and metal history. Do you feel you have played a large role in influencing many of today's metal acts?

Michael Amott: Maybe I have, I am not sure. I don't spend too much time thinking about my influence. I am busy writing more music and touring etc!

Metal Fanatix: Who have you been surprised to learn is a fan of the band?

Michael Amott: There's been quite a few instances where you go 'What? But their identities shall remain secret for the sake of their high profile careers!

Metal Fanatix: What is the one band that you'd be happy never to hear again and why?

Michael Amott: Too many to mention! Any random emo-core-psuedo-metal thing is really offensive to my taste. But hey, that's just me.

Metal Fanatix: Michael I want to thank you again for our time today, it's been a true pleasure. All the best out on the road mate! Do you have any last words for our readers?

Michael Amott: We can't wait to tour Australia again! See you guys soon!

Rise of the Tyrant is out now. Get your copy where all killer metal albums are sold!

To keep up with all the latest Arch Enemy news and tour dates make sure you visit the following websites:

http://www.archenemy.net - Official Arch Enemy Site
http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints - Inside Out 666
http://www.myspace.com/archenemy - Arch Enemy MySpace Site

© Cameron Edney October, December 2007 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.