Long before the Alissa White-Gluz Experience featuring Arch Enemy, there was just Arch Enemy.
Arch Enemy was formed in Halmstad, Sweden by celebrated death metal guitarist Michael Amott after he left Carcass in 1996. For the better part of twenty years, Arch Enemy were, in my opinion, the most talented melodic death metal band in the industry, and the most consistent. Arch Enemy, being a “supergroup” at the time, naturally came out of the gate strong from 1996 through 1999 with albums, ‘Black Earth’, ‘Stigmata’, and ‘Burning Bridges’ during the Johan Siilva era. Those three albums would prove to be vital to a genre that was in decline at the time due to some of the pioneering bands falling off. Carcass practically committed career suicide with their “rot & roll” album, ‘Swansong’, At the Gates broke up in 1996, and In Flames were never the same after their 2000 release, ‘Clayman’. Arch Enemy were carrying the torch up until that point, but the best was yet to come. In 2000, Johan Liiva parted ways with the band, but that same year Arch Enemy struck gold with the addition of his replacement, German death metal vocalist Angela Gossow
Angela was working as a metal journalist in Germany in 2000. After interviewing Michael Amott for the online publication she was writing for, she gave Michael a demo of one of her performances with her band Mistress. Angela auditioned for Arch Enemy, and proved to be not only a worthy replacement for Johan, but also a unique and special talent. She dominated the competition with impressive vocal range, high energy, and captivating stage presence. Death metal is a genre that is dominated by men, particularly as vocalists because of its traditional growling vocal style, but Angela proved that she could perform with the best of them. After auditions, Arch Enemy entered the studio with Angela, and began recording ‘Wages of Sin’.
‘Wages of Sin’ was released on April 25, 2001 with Angela Gossow on vocals, Michael and Christopher Amott on guitars, Sharlee D’Angelo on bass, and Daniel Erlandsson on drums. ‘Wages of Sin’ was widely acclaimed by critics for both its impeccable musicianship and Angela Gossow’s vocals. In my opinion, ‘Wages of Sin’ is the quintessential melodic death metal album. Metal albums have a tendency to be either guitar, or percussion driven, but this album is one of those rare gems that showcases astounding skill on all phases with each member given their opportunity to shine. The Amott brothers deliver a guitar contribution that embodies everything that makes, not just melodic death metal, but metal in general so fun to listen to with intricate riffs, amazing solos, and stunning melody. Daniel Erlandsson rips out blazing fast double-bass, seamless flow, and expert precision on drums, and Sharlee’s bass roars with a distinct heavy groove that is clearly audible and often times showcased throughout the album. All of this combined with Angela’s brutal vocal style is what made ‘Wages of Sin’ a benchmark death metal album. Arch Enemy made a huge statement with this release, and got fans all over the world anticipating great things to come.
Arch Enemy has been a band with a history of world-class talent. They’ve consistently released great albums, some better than others, but always worth listening to. As their popularity grew over the years, they were a band that had developed a tendency to be a bit ostentatious, but seemed to instinctively know when to draw the line in order to maintain their integrity as a death metal band. That was until 2014 when Angela decided to step down as Arch Enemy’s vocalist to take on a new role as band manager. Her first order of business was to find a new vocalist. Angela brought in Alissa White-Gluz.
Alissa is a talented vocalist, and she knows how to put on a great show, but in my opinion, she has turned Arch Enemy into a circus compared to the band they used to be. What made Angela special was the fact that she didn’t want to be seen as a “hot metal chick”, nor did she have any intention of completely stealing the show. She was content with her performance doing the talking while maintaining Arch Enemy as a tight-knit unit. Alissa is the opposite. She doesn’t seem to know whether she wants to be the vocalist for a death metal band, or a pop-star in the likes of Katy Perry. The band has seemingly taken a back seat to her ridiculous image and penchant for vanity. The talent is still there, especially with the addition of famed metal guitarist Jeff Loomis, but it’s because of Alissa White-Gluz that Arch Enemy has become a band that many fans, including myself, just can’t take seriously anymore. In my opinion, Arch Enemy is one band that desperately needs to get back to their roots.