Let the Khaos begin - Sharlee D'Angelo speaks out!!
Swedish Thrash/ Death Metal act 'Arch Enemy' really don't take prisoner's so if you're not prepared for their finally assault then you're pretty much fucked to say the least!! These guys play brutal music but they still manage to keep it melodic, something that most bands who play this style can't seem to do so well, but for Arch Enemy it comes naturally. Formed back in 96 -97 out of the ashes for Carcass (Mike Amott), Armageddon (Chris Amott) Mike younger brother, both talented upstanding guitar players if I've ever heard any, top musicians. With former Mercyful Fate bassist Sharlee D'Angelo and drummer Daniel Erlandsson and the unforgettable but sexy female vocalist Angela Gossow. Who is not only sexy but has a voice of a devil, I mean it's brutal and who would ever think that such a beautiful female can scream and growl so much? These 5 musicians makes up what is now a force to be reckoned with. Arch Enemy have recorded several albums, with the 1st 3 albums featuring vocalist Johan Liiva, drummer Peter Wildoer & Daniel Erlandsson and bassist Martin Bengtsson. The band recorded 'Black Earth', 'Stigmata', 'Burning Bridges' with this line-up before Daniel returned and Angel joined for the album 'Wages Of Sin' in 2001. The band have never been so strong since the 'Wages Of Sin' line-up recorded the album. I managed to chat with bassist Sharlee about the new album 'Khaos Legions' which is soon to be released through Century Media, another fine album indeed and what the future holds for the band. Here is what he had to say to the following questions. I started by asking him what he thought was his favourite album he had recorded with the band in the past.
"Well it's great speaking to you again, and to answer your question it is very hard to pick your favourite album, it's like who is your favourite child? I do have a punch of favourite songs from each album but I would say that 'Wages Of Sin' was a great album as it was a crucial time were we went into the studio without even having a singer and we were going to audition her in the studio to see if it would work out or not. I have to say we were lucky, it worked out for us and this time around we took longer in writing songs for the album and having to tour for the 1st time had made our music sound a little bit different for a change and with us having a little bit of stage experience. It was not the fact that we had a new singer, there was also a new spark within the band which put live into everything and it was just one of those moments, which we really didn't know what it was but we were extremely happy with the result. It was also the 1st time we had worked with Andy Sneap and he had a different type of spotlights on the band which made such a difference, it made us think if we could actually sound as good as we thought? (Ed: who the hell is going to mess with Angela? She growls like a possessed dog lol) Haha that's funny, she is the sweetest woman you could meet but don't cross her because you will not survive her."
I remember mentioning Sabina from Holy Moses to Angela last time I interviewed her were she said she was influenced by her voice to come degree, can you see some resemblance do her voice and that of Sabinas?
"Yeah I do agree, I do think that Sabina is somebody she looked up too as there were not that many female vocalist doing the growling stuff back in the day. Angela loved bands like Morbid Angel and stuff and she wanted to sing like David Vincent and she didn't care as she is a 5ft little blonde woman who said she can do that (laughing). There are some people who can do it and some that can't, Angela is one that certainly can & I'm not a very good growler and I'm 10 times her size and I don't even half the power she has in her voice. (Ed: I guess if Angel started to sing like Simone from Epica they would laugh because we are all so use to hearing her growl, do you agree?) Well she can sing but she doesn't like her own voice as she thinks its a little bit too girlie and she doesn't like that and she said if she had a little bit more of an edge to her voice than she may consider doing it. She loves her growling and there are so many bands out there who try to incorporate the melodic vocals for 1 band but don't try it for us."
The last studio album 'The Root of all Evil' was a re-recorded album of classic songs which featured Johan, songs that people don't know who might want to hear them with Angela on vocals for the 1st time, was it a good selling album and a good idea at the time?
"It was a pretty cool album for it's time and for what it was. It was done with a low budget production in a sense and with the help of Andy Sneap he can wave his magic wand. We basically recorded it mainly by ourselves and we did the drums and then went on the road which just took for ever with more and more touring happening. We finally had some time to finish the album and we sent some stuff off to Andy who sorted it out for us and it sounded great. I think it was a cool thing to do and I think there were a lot of people who were not aware of the pre 'Wages of Sin'. There were a lot of people who asked to play pre 'Wages of Sin' stuff live which we did and we got zero response, so people were not aware of the songs before that album. So we thought we should re-record them and give the fans a chance to hear what they may of missed the 1st time around. Funny enough the album sold really well actually, and I wasn't sure if it would sell well and for a lot of people it was a new album and it was also fun revisiting the past. For me I wasn't even on the 1st 2 albums so it was a challenge for me to re-record them anyway as I was in Mercyful Fate and I had joined the band just before the recording of the 'Burning Bridges' album. It was also the chance for me to put my mark on the record and to change thins around so it was a lot of fun for me."
Moving on Sharlee, let's talk about the new album 'Khaos Legion', that's a strange title, so who came up with the title for the album? Did you also consider using any other titles for the new album?
"Well I think it is a good to symbolize the massive of people around the world that are not content with the situation that their in and are now doing something to make a change and we have seen it happening. The funny thing is that the lyrical themes started to pop up and it is not a concept album and when we started to write the songs Angela wrote the lyrics and at the same time shit started to explode in North Africa & Middle East. I think it effected the album in the writing and we ended up re-doing some of the lyrics because of the situation out there was semi fictional and it came back been completely real. The title is a symbolic expression for all the people that fight for there lives for a better life. We had no other titles for the album, this was the 1st suggestion and it just seemed like the right one, I think either Mike or Angela came up with the title for the album."
So who did the artwork for the album cover, it's pretty neat stuff.
"It was done by a guy called Brent Elliott White, who has worked with Death Angel, White Chapel, and some other bands and I like him because he has a bit of an old school way of looking at things, we like Ken Kelly who did the Kiss 'Destroyer' album and that was a big inspiration for us. It was loosely bases around Eugène Delacroix 'Liberty leading the people' painting, and it has a woman at the center of the painting and it is the same thing as we did here. Brent decided to 5 people around it as the 5 people represent the band and we are wearing gas masks. We are very happy with the end results of the album artwork."
So where was the album recorded? Was at Andy Sneap's studio in Derbyshire UK?
"No it wasn't, it was recorded in Halmstad (Sweden) and it a small enough town and it was recorded just outside of that town and it is the same situation as Andy has, it is a converted barn basically and it was mixed at Andy's studio. The guy who owns the studio in Sweden Rickard Bengtsson, who also co-produced the album he also did 'Doomsday Machine' as well. He also has worked on 2 Spiritual Beggars albums so he has been there along. It is not s small studio at all, it is a more of a classic big studio with a very large room and to have something like that right next door why go anywhere else? It is the same team as we used for the 'Doomsday Machine' album and we didn't intend on doing it that way, it's just the way we have been working with Rickard and Andy over the last couple of albums. We are also happy with the way the album turned out, just like the artwork."
With the band recording and mixing in 2 separate studios, how long it the overall album take to record?
"To record the album it was basically done in 5- 6 weeks to record the whole thing. Writing the album was a completely different ball game, with the riffs, music and ideas had been writing and collected in period of 4 yrs I think whist we had been out on the road. We didn't sit down and write actual songs, the 1st song was written in September 2010 and that song does not exist anymore, but parts of it we did use on other songs. when we were not on tour we spent most of the time in our rehearsal room writing new material and it was also a good thing because it was not a straight forward writing period as we went out and played in between the writing of the album. I think we also brought back some of the energy from touring into the songs and there was only 3 days after playing in London last before we entered the studio for the new album."
As the songs still wrote as a team effort or individual members?
"Well the music is very much done as a team effort and with certain songs it is hard to say who wrote what? We just throw riffs back and forth between us and turn them into songs and I would say that Angela is responsible for at least 85% of the lyrics & Michael had is dirty little fingers in there too (laughing) but this has been a very celebrative album & Michael tends to be the one who has the biggest portion of guitar riffs in the songs. Certain songs has either Daniel, Chris or myself involved in them as well."
So Sharlee what are your favourite songs on the new album and why?
"Well I like all of them, they are awesome!! I think my favourites are 'Under Black Flags We March', I really like that one because I have this vision of a festival crowd when we wrote that one with fist in the air and it has a bit of a Judas Priest vibe to it (Ed: that's the one that sounds like 'Rapid Fire' in places, did you rip them riffs off? lol) Yeah we did almost haha!! It is similar, but we played it backwards with 3 chords it is bound to end been something. I also like 'Yesterday is Dead and Gone' because it is not super fast but it has that intensity with a nice and melodic chorus. I also like 'City Of The Dead' because it is heavy and it is about Cairo were the city of the dead is, it is a huge cemetery/ necropolis where people live with 1000's of people living their on old burial grounds were Egyptian people build houses and a little hut on top of a grave were people spend the 40 day and night period. It is a very big graveyard and people just move in there because there is not enough houses in the city. I also like the song 'Through the Eyes of a Raven', this is a song which we have never done before musically. People have said to me that it sounds very Nordic and I guess it does & I like 'Thorns in My Flesh' just because of the main riff, which could be something from 1980, something like the 1st Savage album 'Loose & Lethal', it reminds me of them really."
Did you ever think of having any special guests on this album?
"No not this time around, we didn't have anybody doing any guest guitar solos or anything like that. We have in the past had people who have come in and helped us out in the past, with Per Wiberg of Opeth & Spiritual Beggars who did the keyboards for us."
How do you see this album as a progressive compared to that of the other albums? it doesn't seem to be so aggressive as the bands previous albums, why is that?
"Well I think we have tried to incorporate new elements but you do listen too new bands and music and you get influenced or inspired by them and you bring them back to the table & we are always willing to trying once. All that gets put into a kettle and it seems to be our cup of tea at the moment kind of speak. We never try to do it deliberately with us it is also never a consciously effort to make another album sound is or that way it is just what comes out at that time. It is hard for me to say as I never compare albums and to me they are all separate entities. We try not to do another really heavy album or vice versa as it becomes boring for the next album, a little bit of variation doesn't harm anybody."
Do end all arguments, what style of Heavy Metal are you?
"We are good metal (laughing)."
So you are about to tour soon, when will we see the band over here in the UK?
"Well the only plans we have so far is to do the 'Sonisphere Festival' and it will be the same day as Slipknot are headlining, not the Big 4. I think with the Big 4 I think here is enough metal for everybody. I am not sure when we will be coming to the UK for a headlining tour, I think it will be towards the end of the year."
Where would you like to play given the change?
"I would love to play in so many places, we have been very fortunate in the past few years to play like Russia, and we will be playing the African continent for the 1st time at the end of May so that is a good 1st for us, we will be playing India, Thailand, and many other places."
Well Sharlee, best wishes to the band from me, good luck with the tour and I hope we meet again soon. Do you have anything to say before we finish?
"Yes I do, I hope the fans like the new album, and we hope to see you all on tour again. Great speaking to you again Jase, hope we have a beer on tour soon when were in the UK."
Thanx To Century Media UK & Sharlee for the interview.