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By Martin Popoff
It's been a complicated, convoluted sales cycle, but Arch Enemy have finally seen the US release of their much talked about Wages Of Sin album (somewheres around a year past the Japanese release), the first with (gad!) female singer Angela Gossow, who commands an imposing presence throughout the album's heart-stopping, heart-rendering, hard-hearted stack of tracks, sounding, well, like a guy. No other way to put it. Anyway, she rules, as do the shredly, deadly Amott brothers (Michael and Chris), as does Sharlee, as does drummer Daniel Erlandsson.
"Musically, I think it's just getting more focused," says convivial conductor Michael Amott, getting down to the business of dissecting the carcass. "I think the arrangements are better, something we're trying to get constantly better at. I never thought I would say this, but it's the 'less is more attitude' (laughs), just kind of getting to the point in a song, instead of having three riffs before the vocals come in and stuff like that. And we also wanted to get a bit more extreme. I thought Burning Bridges was about as soft as we were going to get. There were a lot of hard rock overtones, which we still love. We want to be extreme, but we still want the songs (laughs). But we want it on the extreme side of things. I don't want it to be that we just play melodic metal with growling vocals. In no way do I want to be confused with any kind of power metal."
Ah yes, power metal, the bane of metal to some, the return of value for others; for both camps, the home of happy heavy melody, a word that is thrown out to Michael for his examination. "I'm a big fan of melodies and melodic stuff," begins a careful Amott. "We probably will never have straight up heavy metal vocals in Arch Enemy; we incorporate melody into what I guess could be called death metal. Injecting that into extreme metal is what makes it interesting for me. It keeps it exciting. I started doing that with the guys in Carcass. I wrote a lot of the Heartwork stuff. That's where I got interested in it, just with more of a twisted feel, somehow. It has to be left field for me, otherwise it's not as interesting. That's what intrigues me in music, the weird mixes. I mean, Arch Enemy, we can go up there and arguably shred, guitar-wise, with whatever metal band there is. But we choose to play extreme metal. I think that's really cool. And we've got a great rhythm section as well, which kind of makes the whole thing groove a little bit. Our rhythm section is not static; they swing a little bit somehow. I mean, I've got a great lineup of musicians. I couldn't wish for anything better and I wouldn't want to switch anybody."
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