Swedish melodic death metal icons Arch Enemy are scene leaders with a continuous aim to evolve and grow as songwriters and musicians. They're a band defined by three distinct eras, each underpinning new levels of success with different vocalists at the helm. Each chapter of Arch Enemy commands respect for their own reasons and, looking back on them all, founding guitarist Michael Amott has done us quite the favor in naming his three favorite songs with each of the band's three vocalists.
Upon the group's 1995 formation, Johan Liiva, who had currently worked with Amott in the death metal band Carnage and contributed to two demo recordings, served as the frontman. At the time, Amott had just departed Carcass a couple years earlier after helping give rise to the melodic death metal movement with their 1993 album Heartwork.
After a trio of studio albums, Liiva was replaced by the ferocious Angela Gossow, a German vocalist whose experience as a death metal growler came during her stints in the underground bands Asmodina and Mistress. For 15 years she served as Arch Enermy's frontwoman and was crucial in helping popularize the role of women fronting extreme metal groups.
Stepping aside in 2014 to a more behind the scenes role as Arch Enemy's manager, Gossow was integral in identifying her successor, Alissa White-Gluz, formerly of The Agonist. A powerhouse vocalist, she's also emerged as a dual-threat as the band's latest evolution includes strategically placed clean-sung vocals on the 2022 album, Deceivers.
It's quite the rarity that any band can truly enjoy massively successful eras with three different vocalists, a testament to the band's iron will and fearless pursuit of being nothing but the very best.
See Amott's picks for his three favorite songs by each of Arch Enemy's three singers directly below.
Arch Enemy's new album, 'Deceivers,' will be released on July 29 through Century Media. Pre-order your copy here and view all of the band's upcoming tour dates at this location. Follow Arch Enemy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.
JOHAN LIIVA ERA
Duration: 1995 - 2005
Black Earth (1996) Stigmata (1998) Burning Bridges (1999)
"Bury Me an Angel"
from 'Black Earth' (1996)
This is the opening track on the first Arch Enemy album and it’s also the first song I wrote for Arch Enemy. Putting together a new band and hearing it all come together in the studio while tracking it was electrifying.
Our original vocalist Johan was (and still is) a dear old friend of mine and this wasn’t the first band we had done together. At this point, Johan hadn’t been singing for a few years but when we cut this in the studio, he really brought it. He’s got that old school Swedish death metal bark that is so endearing. Still sounds huge!
from 'Burning Bridges' (1999)
This track off of our third album is is one of Johan’s finest moments as a singer, The level of desperation and angst that he brought to this song mirrors the sentiment of the words perfectly and really makes the song work.
from 'Burning Bridges' (1999)
Another raging vocal performance! An interesting thing about Johan was how fast he worked in the studio. On this album, he tracked all the vocals on 11 songs in a day and a half with awesome results — just unbelievable! The first three records were recorded on analog 2” tape and we did not have the luxury of of modern editing techniques. Sometimes I miss those days!
ANGELS GOSSOW ERA
Duration: 2000 - 2014
Wages of Sin (2000) Anthems of Rebellion (2003) Doomsday Machine (2005) Rise of the Tyrant (2007) The Root of All Evil (2009) Khaos Legions (2011)
from 'Wages of Sin' (20020
Bringing in a new vocalist on our fourth album was a move that was maybe somewhat unexpected. The fact that we recruited a female growler was of course something that nobody anticipated. At this point, there were no female extreme metal singers performing in bands with the level of musicianship and songwriting that Arch Enemy had and the impact it had was monumental.
I remember Angela tracking this song in the studio in December 2000 and how fresh and exciting it sounded — a watershed moment for sure. A lot of great memories from recording Wages of Sin in general, and Angela especially was very eager to prove herself and delivered 666 percent!
from 'Doomsday Machine' (2005)
Upon hearing the instrumental track, Angela came up with a brilliant lyric and rhythmically interesting vocal arrangement that conjured up images of a post-apocalyptic desolate landscape. It was released as a video/single and the song remains in our live setlist to this day.
"In This Shallow Grave"
from 'Rise of the Tyrant' (2007)
To me, this is Angela at her absolute finest. The ferocious vocal assault is what takes this song over the top and it’s one of my personal favorites from her stint in the band.
ALISSA WHITE-GLUZ ERA
Duration: 2014 - present
War Eternal (2014) Will to Power (2017) Deceivers (2022)
"Blood In the Water"
from 'Will to Power' (2017)
Getting Alissa in the band in 2013/2014 was another game-changer for us. She has vocal chops from hell with a lot of variety, presenting us with seemingly endless possibilities. Alissa always has a lot of interesting ideas in the studio and we incorporate everything that we feel elevates the song. It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite out of the now three albums worth of material we’ve done together. This is a deep album track from the “Will to Power” album that stands out to me from a vocal point of view. I like when she goes hard and spits out the words with an extra dose of lethal venom!
"As the Pages Burn"
from 'War Eternal' (2014)
This was the first song that I co-wrote with Alissa when she joined the band and it marked the beginning of a great run of songs we’ve created together. The machine gun delivery of words in the verses and blending melody into her growl tone in the chorus was a new and most welcome element to our sound.
"Handshake With Hell"
from 'Deceivers' (2022)
This one features vocal elements that are obviously a bit of a departure for the band, but on our 11th album in at 25-plus years of band history, I think we are entitled to take a few liberties here and there.
I really love her ability to effortlessly switch back and forth between the two contrasting styles. We’ve had an absolute blast playing this song live on our North American tour and the fans are singing along!