"Extreme music should be for everyone!"- In Conversation with Arch Enemy
Death Metal pioneers Arch Enemy have been around for the best part of two decades and are gearing up to release their tenth record, entitled Will To Power, on September 8th. We were given the opportunity to spend some time with bassist Sharlee D'Angelo to discuss all things Arch Enemy.
How are things in the Arch Enemy camp so close to the record coming out?
Yeah we are very busy at the moment with everything, gearing up to tour, promo of various kinds but yeah a lot of excitement in the air! This time of a records birth is where we will get peoples initial thoughts to the new material and the stuff we have been working away on.
Let's talk about the new record'Will To Power' and its recording process. How was it, and did it differ from recording previous albums?
It was very good actually, we went the same route we did with the last record, War Eternal. We used the same exact recording studio on the west coast of Sweden, then we moved to a smaller studio for the rest of the instruments in Stockholm. It was the same method also, you know if it's not broke, don't fix it!.
In terms of production, your guitarist and band leader Micheal Amott produced it alongside Daniel Erlandsson. How was that experience?
It was basically the same as the last record, as although the last record was produced under the Arch Enemy name, on this record they oversaw the whole operation so we let them take the credit.
For the recording of the last record we were going into the recording process in quite turbulent times. We had just lost an important part of the Arch Enemy family in our singer Angela and it was important with the new record to get a sense of focus and those guys helped out a lot. Having Alissa on her second record with us helped us focus a lot.
Was there a vision going into the recording of this record or was it a case of see what comes out in the studio?
Same goal as always really, go in and make the most smashing, brutal metal album of the year. We try to get as close to that as possible. We start out with some songs we are happy with and we go in with that, and what they sound like in our heads. It can be a bit tricky though as there are five heads in this band. You just have to have your finger on the pulse and have a gut reaction about the material. There are a lot of ideas that never make it to the record but you can always give half an hour to experiment and see what happens. We do like to experiment.
Talking of experimentation, there is a track on the new record entitled 'Reason To Believe' and that's a very different type of Arch Enemy track. How did that come about?
That's one of the experiments I speak of that we undertook. In terms of clean vocals we tried a few songs with clean vocals on War Eternal and the songs didn't dictate it. We have someone in the band who has such a varied vocal range why not try something different? War Eternal was a fairly melodic record and melodic vocals on top of it was too much. This time we had a little bit more breathing space and were a lot more open to it. 'Reason To Believe' is close as Arch Enemy have come to a power ballad. We tried it, we felt it turned out great. If we didn't think the vocals fit on the song, the song wouldn't have appeared on the album. We decided to reverse the growls in the chorus and clean in the body of the song, we changed it up a bit. If fans don't like it, well then there are eleven other songs that they can listen to. I think the new album is a lot more varied than the last.
Do you feel that this form of music, let's call it Melodic Death Metal for the purists out there, is pushing through into the mainstream. Other bands within that genre like Oathbreaker are really turning peoples heads at the moment....
Absolutely, as you wean the masses onto this type of music, the better it is for everyone. There will always be purists out there who say metal should be underground and 'our' music and not 'theirs' but you know we all want to play to as many people as possible. The larger exposure helps as well. Other bands go more mainstream than others and it helps everybody.
Would you say the term "underground" is still valid in this day and age where music is so readily available?
I still think the term is still valid, all that has happened is the form of music has gone digital. With the underground you never know because all it takes is one band to be the next big thing and that opens the door to everyone. Having access to more music is not necessarily a bad thing. There will always be an underground, there will always be new bands, and some of the best music comes from there!
Last question, what are your plans touring wise for the new record?
We will be travelling as far and wide as we can. We will be in the UK in February next year so look out for us then!
Arch Enemy's latest record, Will To Power is released September 8th and is available from all well-known streaming platforms. Follow them on Twitter and on their Facebook page.