Thursday, 27 March 2014

Extreme Thursday: Arch Enemy

It's Thursday again. Sorry about that. But to try and improve the situation we're going to look at a band. A band who need no introduction. A band whose name is the Family Fortunes top answer for "death metal bands with female vocalists". And a band who has been very much in the public eye of late. I am referring, of course, to Bananarama.

I jest, of course, but to try and pretend that nobody has heard of Arch Enemy would be somewhat foolish. Over the last 15 years the band have forged a name for themselves and become of one the best known names on the melodeath circuit.

They have certainly had their fair share of nay-sayers, detractors and general curmudgeons trying to decry them as false and relying on the "gimmick" of Angela Gossow's gender. Fortunately they didn't take any of it to heart, and through it all they have maintained a consistent style that is recognisably Arch Enemy, and a fiercely loyal fan base.

But it was not always so. In fact, back in the beginning, the band was little more than ex-Carcass guitarist Michael Amott's side project. Featuring Johan Liiva on vocals, Chris Amott on guitar and, well, that's out it, this fledgling death metal outfit put out their first album, Black Earth, in 1996.

Releasing two more albums in subsequent years, 1998's Stigmata and 1999's Burning Bridges, the band managed to take their sound worldwide, if only in terms of distribution. But our Femetalism story begins in the year 2000 when Johan Liiva was sacked for, allegedly, poor stage presence, and replaced by the young German vocalist Angela Gossow.

Having formed two bands of her own previously, Asmodina and Mistress, Angela had been active on the scene for nearly 10 years by the time Liiva was sacked, and Michael Amott remembered her from a demo she gave to his brother and on again/off again Arch Enemy guitarist Christopher during an interview some years earlier. One thing led to another, and the album Wages Of Sin was born.

The album was a critical success and Arch Enemy's popularity soared. Work began the the next album, Anthems Of Rebellion, but that was almost cut short by Angela's suffering from vocal fold nodules, a condition that almost robbed her of her trademark growls. Angela then started working with a vocal coach to relearn her techniques and undo the damage untrained screams can cause and, fortunately, managed to get her growl back in time to release Anthems in 2003. An even bigger success, it launched the band onto a series of worldwide tours and festivals.

Between tours, the band had time to record an EP in the form of Dead Eyes See No Future and an album called Doomsday Machine. Another tour, and then another album in Rise Of The Tyrant in 2007. The late 2000s were a period of continued success or Arch Enemy, with the musical talent of Michael Amott and the vocal styles of Angela Gossow always front and centre.

Two more albums, The Root Of All Evil and Khaos Legions in 2009 and 2011 bring Angela's tenure with the band to a close. A close? Well yes. Haven't you been reading the news? Strange things are afoot at Century Media.

In fact it is not so much of a surprise. On Angela's personal biography she states that Arch Enemy was not a permanent thing for her, and so it goes. In March 2014 the band announced her resignation and, at the same time, her replacement; Alissa White-Glutz of The Agonist.

In a thoroughly orchestrated set of moves, The Agonist, on the very same day, announced the replacement of Alissa White-Gluz with Vicky Psarakis. A name I'm sure we'll hear a lot more around here on Femetalism.

Within a week, we have a video of brand new Arch Enemy, the first in 3  years. The title track from the upcoming album War Eternal, no less. While certainly different, it still has Michael Amott running the show, and Angela is still around in a management capacity, so it is no surprise that this is recognisably an Arch Enemy track. It will be interesting to find out what the future holds.