Arch Enemy is a Swedish melodic death metal band from Halmstad, Sweden, formed in 1996. Founded by Carcassguitarist Michael Amott along with Johan Liiva, both originally from the influential death metal band Carnage. The band has released seven studio albums, a live album (Burning Japan Live 1999), two DVDs and three EPs. The band was originally fronted by Johan Liiva, who was replaced by Angela Gossow as lead vocalist in 2000
Arch Enemy, the brainchild of Michael Amott (Carcass, Carnage, and Spiritual Beggars) was originally assembled when Michael Amott left Carcass. Guitarists Michael Amott and younger brother Christopher Amott (Armageddon) joined with vocalist Johan Liiva (ex-Carnage, Furbowl, Furbowl|Devourment) and then-session drummer Daniel Erlandsson (Eucharist) in what Michael Amott called “an attempt to merge melody with aggression and technicality.”
The band’s debut, entitled Black Earth was recorded at Studio Fredman and released by the now defunct Wrong Again Records in 1996. It obtained a fair amount of success in Japan, achieving MTV rotation with their first single “Bury Me an Angel”, as well as moderate success in Sweden. At this point, Arch Enemy was more of a “solo effort” than a full band: Michael Amott wrote all the songs himself, and even played bass guitar on the album, contrary to the album’s liner notes, which listed vocalist Johan Liiva as handling bass duties. Amott later revealed that he had the credits listed that way to make the album seem more of a “band” effort. Many consider it to be the band’s most aggressive album, a trait that was softened to some degree on its following releases, but never abandoned.
After the release of Black Earth the band switched labels, signing a contract with Century Media. In 1998 Arch Enemy released Stigmata, for which bassist Martin Bengtsson and drummer Peter Wildoer joined the band. This album caught the attention of a wider audience, gaining popularity in both Europe and America. This was also the first Arch Enemy album to be released worldwide.
In 1999, Sharlee D’Angelo assumed the role of Arch Enemy’s bassist, and Daniel Erlandsson was once again recruited to handle drum duties, this time on a permanent basis. Burning Bridges was released, and was soon followed by the live album Burning Japan Live 1999, which was initially a release limited to Japan, but later given worldwide distribution due to demands from fans. During the touring-cycle for Burning Bridges Sharlee D’Angelo was temporarily replaced twice, first by Dick Lövgren (Meshuggah, ex-Armageddon) and secondly, by Roger Nilsson (ex-Spiritual Beggars, Firebird, The Quill). Burning Bridges marked a shift in Arch Enemy’s core sound, now opting for a more melodic approach, while still keeping the original melodic death metal-sound first heard on the first two albums.
In November 2000 vocalist Johan Liiva was asked to quit the band. Michael Amott stated that the he wanted more dynamics from the band’s frontperson, and that Liiva’s live performance was not up to par with the rest of the band. Liiva was soon replaced by amateur German journalist and death metal vocalist Angela Gossow, who had given a demo tape to Christopher Amott earlier that year during an interview she had conducted with him. Gossow proved to be a competent singer and has been with the band ever since.
The first album with songs featuring Gossow was Wages of Sin, released in 2001. Along with featuring a new singer, the band also went from B tuning to C tuning and have kept this till the present. In December of the same year, Arch Enemy took part in the “Japan’s Beast Feast 2002” concert, playing alongside Slayer and Motörhead.
Anthems of Rebellion was released in 2003 and brought some innovations, such as the use of a second voice singing in harmony, for example in “End of the Line” and “Dehumanization.” In November of the following year, the band released the EP Dead Eyes See No Future, which featured live recordings, along with covers of Manowar, Megadeth and Carcass songs. In June 2004, the band embarked upon Japan touring supported by a Japanese act Edge of Spirit.
In June 2005, Arch Enemy finished the recording for their sixth album, Doomsday Machine. In July 2005, guitarist Christopher Amott left the band in order to focus on his personal life. He was temporarily replaced by guitarist Gus G. (Ozzy, Firewind), and then by Fredrik Åkesson in September 2005. Christopher returned on a permanent basis in March 2007, shortly before the band entered the studio to begin recording their new album with producer Fredrik Nordström (who has produced for acts such as In Flames and Soilwork). Åkesson went on to become Opeth’s new lead guitarist in May, 2007. An album from Arch Enemy’s earlier work, Black Earth, was reissued on April 24, 2007, with Liiva’s vocals.
Arch Enemy’s seventh album, entitled Rise of the Tyrant was released on September 24, 2007 in Europe and September 25, 2007 in the USA. Rise of the Tyrant debuted at number 84 on the Billboard 200 chart. This surpasses the Doomsday Machine chart entry, making it the band’s highest charting effort to date. Gossow said the new album has more emotion and less double vocals, as well as less vocal processing, yielding a more “raw” presentation.
Arch Enemy played the Bloodstock Open Air Festival in August 2007, between Sabbat and In Flames. They then performed on the Black Crusade tour at the end of 2007, with Machine Head, Trivium, DragonForce and Shadows Fall. With this, as Michael Amott reported on the band’s website, “These will be the first European shows we do with Arch Enemy after the release of our new album”.
On March 8, 2008, Arch Enemy filmed a live show in Tokyo, Japan for the live DVD Tyrants of the Rising Sun. Arch Enemy also co-headlined the Defenders of the Faith tour in April 2008 with Opeth while DevilDriver and 3 Inches of Blood opened for them. They then headlined the Tyranny and Bloodshred tour in May 2008 with Dark Tranquillity, Divine Heresy, and Firewind as supporting acts.
Released September 28 in EU, September 30 in Japan, and October 6 in USA, it features twelve re-recorded songs spanning the band’s career before Gossow joined as vocalist, with some material pre-dating D’Angelo as their bassist. In the first half of 2009, the band toured Europe and South America, and they also played at the annual Dubai Desert Rock Festival alongside Opeth, Chimaira, and Motörhead. Following the release of The Root of All Evil on September 28, 2009, the band embarked on an Asian and Australian tour, including their first visit to New Zealand, starting at the Loud Park festival in Japan on October 17, other acts included Megadeth, Judas Priest, Slayer, Anthrax, Rob Zombie and Children of Bodom.
Arch Enemy has confirmed to be part of the Wacken Open Air tour held in Wacken in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany. This is one of the biggest summer heavy metal festivals, including more than 60 bands.
- Christopher Amott − guitar (1996–2005, 2007–present)
- Michael Amott − guitar (1996–present), keyboards on Doomsday Machine and Rise of the Tyrant
- Sharlee D’Angelo − bass guitar (1999–present)
- Daniel Erlandsson − drums (1996, 1998–present)
- Angela Gossow − lead vocals (2001–present)