Throughout his career, former Carcass guitarist and ARCH ENEMY founding member Michael Amott has never been concerned with conformity. In 1996, his pursuit to merge melody with aggression and technicality led him to collaborate with brother Christopher Amott, drummer Daniel Erlandsson, and vocalist Johan Liiva. Without even circulating a demo, they teamed up with the celebrated producer Fredrik Nordström and delivered ARCH ENEMY’s debut, Black Earth – an album that is still hailed as a milestone in Swedish death metal. Michael Amott and Fredrik Nordström co-produced 1998’s Stigmata, which pushed the band to new heights with its technical execution. Welcoming Mercyful Fate bassist Sharlee D’Angelo into the ranks for 1999’s Amott/Nordström-produced Burning Bridges, ARCH ENEMY’s now undeniable musical pedigree delivered an intricate and devastating album. Despite a North American tour with Nevermore, European tours with In Flames, Children Of Bodom, and Dark Tranquillity, three Japanese tours, performances at The Dynamo Festival, a co-headlining appearance in Santiago, Chile with Hammerfall, and sharing a bill with Cradle Of Filth in London, Michael Amott felt there was still more territory to cover, as all high-achievers are wont to believe.
In a completely unexpected turn of events, Angela Gossow - a completely unknown vocalist from Germany - replaced Johan Liiva in 2001 and delivered a staggering debut performance on the Wages Of Sin album (produced by Fredrik Nordström and mixed by Andy Sneap), marking the first time a band of this caliber and ferocity was fronted by a woman. The reception given to Angela Gossow by the sold-out crowd at her worldwide debut in Los Angeles in March 2002 was nothing short of overwhelming. The album was bathed in unending universal praise from daily newspapers, front cover press in worldwide national magazines with Wages Of Sin proudly claiming stake in end-of-the-year “Best Of...” lists, while the metal underground showcased a faithful display of allegiance to the new line-up. Metal Maniacs hailed the album as a “relentless, eclectic and wholly charged album to keep even those with the shortest musical attention spans entertained.” Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles insisted the album “requires a double-take, as Angela’s gurgling undertow sticks needles in your eardrums while your eyes can’t believe where it’s coming from.” Metal Edge declared Angela Gossow to be “one of the most promising talents in years.” North America’s Alternative Press quickly identified ARCH ENEMY as one of the five bands who exemplify “the sound of things to come” in 2002. This claim would soon prove itself prophetic during the band’s performances at Japan’s Beast Feast, the Milwaukee Metalfest, the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival, a North American tour supporting Nile, their own headlining North American tour, and six sold-out dates in Japan.
Fueled by their success and teaming up with producer English producer extraordinaire Andy Sneap for Anthems Of Rebellion, ARCH ENEMY unveils yet another stratum of their impressive musical depth, the obvious being Gossow’s talents of enunciation, which truly rank with the accomplishments of Death’s Chuck Schuldiner and Carcass’s Jeff Walker. Filled with the trademarked tandem guitar work of the Amott Brothers and the flawless D’Angelo/Erlandsson rhythm section that has earned the band staunch recognition, “Tear Down The Walls/Silent Wars” is the articulation of awakening, a mandate for change; “We Will Rise” is a call to consciousness, a declaration of war against everything mediocre force-fed to us by society; “Leader Of The Rats” is a reminder of the much-needed cynicism that can keep everyday life in perspective; and finally, “Despicable Heroes” is a scathing critique of the hypocrisy of those appointed to leadership who abuse the loyalty of their followers.
An undisputedly clear proclamation of their intentions, ARCH ENEMY have valiantly chosen a path of upheaval for the sake of advancing the genre of melodic death metal, in spite of the criticism. What you’ll hear on Anthems Of Rebellion is the strength of fight-till-the-death conviction, a defiant leadership, a rare pact of loyalty made within a clan of musicians who have been bonded by blood, and who will stop at nothing until the inner-rebel and dormant psyche of rebellion is awakened within us all.
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