Arch Enemy's Michael Amott Discusses Touring, Deceivers, and The Evolution of Melodic Death Metal

Recently, Arch Enemy took flight on a massive tour with a power packed lineup of Behemoth, Napalm Death, and Unto Others, ending the long hiatus from touring for the band. The last time Arch Enemy hit our shores in the US was in 2019, so it had been a bit of a wait. On top of that, the band was prepping for the release of their much anticipated 11th studio album, entitled Deceivers, on August 12th. A bit of a backwards release schedule, with the tour coming first, hasn’t hampered legendary Arch Enemy guitarist Michael Amott, who was eager to return to the stage.

“We have not played live with Arch Enemy since December 2019, it was a while ago. We were supposed to have a year off, 2020 was supposed to be a year off for us, but it turned out to be a year off for everybody, and beyond. But it’s exciting! We’re very excited of course. It seems America has gotten started with live shows earlier than Europe. It seems like it's working out for you guys over there.”

Although Michael has had an expansive career of over 30 years, he hasn’t yet grown tired of touring. “It’s a lifestyle I was very accustomed to and I haven’t done it for a while and I’m excited to get back into it and see if I still like it, haha! I think I will. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Of course, we’ve been seeing other bands getting out there and doing shows and getting back into it, so we’re very excited to do it ourselves.”

Arch Enemy has become known as a leader in melodic death metal over the past two and a half decades, defining the genre and driving it forward to immense success. But that is not without variation and evolution. Michael described himself as a “music lover” and a “metalhead” who likes to try new things in each album. Deceivers will be no different in that respect, with surprises already revealed in the first three singles off the album.

“We have a style that we’ve established in our 25+ year careers, but music is something that we still feel very passionate about. That is the driving force. There’s always something that we haven’t tried. Either “We’ve never started a song like that,” or “we’ve never used this kind of melody or chord structure,” there’s always little new things you can try out. Music is pretty much endless. But we still stay true to the Archy Enemy sound. We don’t want to stray too far from our roots

“And I say that, but recently I listened to our first album, and it's so different compared to what we do now. So there has been a progression, but I think it's been an organic one. Something that has happened naturally.

“I think we, and maybe me in particular, think about that a lot. You want to have some new elements in every album, I think it’s important. We want to do that, but we don’t try to do too much in one go.”

As far as more surprises in store, we have to be patient and wait. A new strategy for Arch Enemy has already was revealed, providing a more comprehensive glimpse of Deceivers to further add to the appetite of fans.

“We tried something different for this album: we released more singles than we ever have before. It was an idea that came from our record label. They wanted to do it this way, and it’s a new way of working for us. Usually we release a maximum of two singles and then the album’s out and we’re on tour, but these are different times. We haven’t been able to tour, and, of course, people listen to music in a different way now, more on a single based approach.

“All the songs on the album are a bit different and that’s what makes it so hard to pick singles! Some bands are great at writing the same type of song always. They’re great songs, but they have a formula in a way. But there’s so many different things that we do. We try to create varied albums with different emotions, different colors, and it makes it difficult when you pick the singles.”

But this new release strategy isn’t an easy one, with Michael stating “It made it harder!” to choose the singles when there were more to choose.

“I did figure out one advantage is, these songs that we’ve released as singles and videos, we rack up millions of views on each song and the advantage of that is, of course, these songs will be well known by our fans. They will have heard these songs when we go play live. When we put out Will to Power in 2017, we put out two singles and then we went on tour and we tried to introduce more songs off the album into the live show, but a lot of people hadn’t really heard the album. They only really heard the ones on YouTube or streaming. This way we can highlight more songs, which is great.”

Deceivers actually hit the shelves well after touring started, which is the reverse of what we typically see. “It is a bit backwards! Normally, we would never do that. But I think we are looking at it as, we hope people will be excited to see a lineup like this, see us play again in America. And we will probably come back after the album comes out.

I think it will be like a celebration of this type of music and being back. It's definitely going to be huge and there will be a lot of cool energy.”

Michael Amott has been an undeniable pioneer in the melodic death metal genre. His guitar style features memorable melodic lead lines, furious sledgehammer riffs, and a love for twin guitar harmonies. How his style developed goes back 30 years to his time in Carcass. “I was there in the beginning when those two elements of more melodic guitar work came together with more extreme death metal that was going on. I remember writing songs with Bill in Carcass in ‘92/’93 and introducing elements of Iron Maiden-like guitar parts with galloping and guitar harmonies, mixed with the death metal vocals. And I remember thinking “People are going to hate this,” because I had never heard anything like it. Now it’s so normal. But at that point it was different. But somebody has to do that. That was fun to be part of something when there’s that shift.

“I remember when I was playing with Carcass and death metal got really super extreme and there was a lot of emphasis on the brutality, and how deep the growling vocals were, or how fast the drummers were, or how down tuned the guitars were and, at the time, we felt like we wanted to take a step back. Back up a little bit and put some more melody in there and I think that’s what I’ve continued to do with Arch Enemy. Traditional sounds boring, but I just think of it as good song writing. Creating songs that people can actually hum along to and mosh to.”

Amott’s song writing and memorable guitar work has driven the band to being one of the most successful melodic death metal bands out there. Not only that, the band has inspired legions of fans to dig deeper into the genre as a whole, me included. Reminiscing on finding Arch Enemy on Yahoo music 20 years ago, they were my gateway, but that appeal was born out of a desire to write songs that pleased not only themselves, but their fans.

“Back in the day, we had blast beats and the crowd was always sort of muted during the blast beats and then they really got going during the mid-tempo stuff. It was almost like time stopped, which is cool too, I really like that stuff, but I think we’ve gone in another direction with Arch Enemy, where it’s more song based.

“We didn’t really set out to become a gateway.

“It is really cool that happened because now we have so many fans, all around the world, and people sing our lyrics and melodies when we play our shows. And it really is quite something to be a part of that. It is a beautiful gift that we have been given and we are just enjoying that.

“We get a lot of criticism as well. We are kind of in that inbetween. For many fans, especially in Europe, that maybe we are the heaviest band they will ever listen to. And there’s people who think we are way too soft. So we are dancing on that edge of being very melodic and accessible, but then we always have the heavy riffs and the aggression, there’s that crazy energy with Alissa’s vocals and the drumming in the music as well. We are just writing the kind of music that we would like to hear ourselves. I’m just very drawn to melodies and really into that mix, blending those two worlds. That’s been our thing since we got started.”

Just as Michael said there is always something new to try in songwriting, there is always something new to learn about the songwriter and this conversation yielded a very fun coincidence: Michael Amott and his tour mate Barney Greenway share the same favorite dinosaur, diplodocus. “I had a book when I was a kid, an illustrated book of dinosaurs, but now I can’t remember the names. I like that one with the really, really long neck that just eats leaves. They’re vegetarian!”

Catch Arch Enemy on tour with Behemoth, Napalm Death and Unto Others touring throughout Europe and the UK starting on September 27th in Dublin, Ireland and wrapping up in Oslo, Norway on November 6th.

Deceivers is currently out now and available to order - HERE.

April 16 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
April 18 – San Antonio, TX @ The Aztec Theatre
April 19 – Dallas, TX @ Amplified Live
April 21 – St Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Live
April 22 – Atlanta, GA @ The Eastern
April 23 – Charlotte. NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
April 25 – Toronto, ON @ Rebel
April 26 – Montreal, QC @ Mtelus
April 28 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
April 29 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore Philadelphia
April 30 – Worcester, MA @ Palladium
May 2 – Chicago, IL @ The Riviera Theatre
May 4 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
May 7 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
May 9 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
May 10 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
May 11 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
May 13 – Berkeley, CA @ The UC Theatre
May 15 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Hollywood Palladium