How Arch Enemy are taking over the metal world
Sold-out tours, record-breaking chart positions… two albums into the Alissa era, Arch Enemy are enjoying a whole new lease of life. We joined them on their latest US conquest
Located incongruously in the heart of Los Angeles’ Koreatown, The Wiltern is a gilded, 2,300-capacity Art Deco concert theatre that dates back to the days of vaudeville. It sits a mere six miles from the Troubadour, the famed 500-capacity nightclub in Hollywood where, 16 years ago, Angela Gossow made her live debut with Arch Enemy, taking over from original vocalist Johan Liiva.
Since then, the multinational band have graduated into larger venues as they’ve become one of metal’s leading forces, although the journey hasn’t always been easy. Most notably, Angela stepped down in early 2014, stating the need to “be with my family and pursue other interests”. The band subsequently recruited Alissa White-Gluz of Canadian metallers The Agonist to lead Arch Enemy into Mk III.
It’s hard enough for bands to survive one singer change, much less two – yet against all odds, Arch Enemy managed to not only weather both storms, but thrive in their aftermaths. The band’s 10th album (their second with Alissa), Will To Power, achieved some of the highest chart positions of their career, including a Top 40 debut in the UK; their live shows – including a particularly memorable performance at Bloodstock festival last year – are receiving rave reviews; and Alissa has cemented herself as one of metal’s most celebrated modern personalities.
The band seem to be firing on all cylinders as they roll into LA with co-headliners Trivium for the 24th stop of a mostly sold-out six-week North American tour, which will be followed by a month-long European trek that wraps up with five dates in the UK. Prior to an afternoon meet-and-greet with around 50 diehard fans (who each pay around 75 quid to shake hands and take pictures with their heroes), we find Alissa and founding guitarist Michael Amott to be in good spirits as they reflect on a whirlwind four years.
“It’s always exciting to release a new album, but to see it do so well – to make an impact – is what you always hope for,” Michael says, settling into a couch backstage. “A lot of people are paying attention to the band.”
As the band’s vocalist, much of that attention falls on Alissa, who – despite calling herself “super-shy” – has not only embraced the spotlight, but increased its wattage substantially. “Ever since I started being in a band, I said, ‘As long as opportunities are going to come my way, I’m going to take them,’” she says. “I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about how life doesn’t always go the way you think and how you have to take the bad with the good, but focus on the good.”