“The greatest challenge for me is to keep improving every aspect of the compositions and arrangements,” says Arch Enemy founder/guitarist Michael Amott about new album, War Eternal. “I’m always searching for ‘the perfect Arch Enemy song.’ When I started the band in 1995 I had the idea to create the most heavy melodic band of all time.”
And he did. Over the course of 19 years, Arch Enemy, under Amott’s guidance, crafted 10 acclaimed full-lengths, dominated sales charts, and toured the globe. If Amott were a smart man, he’d retire now to some tropical island with his favorite Michael Schenker records in tow and the setting sun on his face. But neither he nor Arch Enemy are done. Not by a long shot.
With guitarist Nick Cordle and vocalist Alissa White-Gluz replacing Amott’s younger brother Christopher and long-time frontwoman Angela Gossow in 2012 and 2014 respectively, War Eternal is Arch Enemy reborn. “Changes in the band lineup are hardly ever looked upon favorably by the fans,” Amott acknowledges, “which I completely understand. Nonetheless, it does happen and the changes that have been made in the Arch Enemy camp were necessary in order for the band to survive and keep going. I love the energy of working with new people and Alissa and Nick have certainly brought a lot of talent and enthusiasm to the band!”
In Cordle, Amott has a quick-fingered, high-energy sideman. A guitarist he can trade wicked licks, sick riffs, and wild solos with. Cordle’s first appearance in Arch Enemy was on the “Under Black Flags We March” video (from 2011’s Khaos Legions). War Eternal marks the ex-Arsis six-stringer’s full-length debut. “Nick was my first choice as he ticks all the right boxes for Arch Enemy with his musicality and technicality as well as his personality and dedication.”
When Amott recruited Angela Gossow to front Arch Enemy for the Wages of Sin effort, he changed extreme metal forever. With White-Gluz, he has a new weapon. She’s a vertiable firebrand on War Eternal, her unrelenting roar, cruel rasp, and unique looks the mark of a woman ready to conquer the world. “My goal is to keep Arch Enemy alive and thriving!” White-Gluz exclaims. “I want to open a whole new chapter for Arch Enemy, powerful and diverse, all the while respecting the legions of fans that love traditional Arch Enemy. Fans can expect loads of pure fucking metal.”
At 13 tracks, War Eternal is the quintessential Arch Enemy album. It’s both a nostalgic nod to the band’s past (“Never Forgive, Never Forget”, “No More Regrets”) and stunning example of what’s possible in the future (“Down to Nothing”, “Time is Black”). But if there’s a standout track—a spearhead—it’s the title track. Unveiled to the world on Youtube, “War Eternal” marches defiantly against the mundane, two raised fists to the constraints of society and the cage it desperately tries to put on us all. In it, White-Gluz proves she’s the next generation of great, while Amott and the rest of Arch Enemy play as if ”War Eternal” is their last song. That ”War Eternal” amassed an astonishing 1.5 million views the first 10 days is telling of its conviction and power. “There are a lot of details in this album that excite me as a songwriter and guitarist,” Amott grins. “Personally, I’ve pushed myself harder as player on War Eternal and feel I’ve gone to another level this time, which is very rewarding. I actually think the whole band has kicked everything up a notch or two.”
Produced by the band and mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Paradise Lost) at Fascination Street Studio, the Swedes’ 10th full-length is unrelentingly brutal yet remarkably polished. “We could afford any big name producer at this stage in the game,” says Amott. “Having the band produce the album was a natural and logical way of working for us at this point.