Arch Enemy on Surprising New Extreme-Metal Ballad "Reason to Believe" | Revolver

Arch Enemy on Surprising New Extreme-Metal Ballad "Reason to Believe"

Guitarist Michael Amott: "I think all the best metal bands have ballads"
arch enemy, Katja Kuhl
photograph by Katja Kuhl

The biggest surprise on Arch Enemy's new album, Will to Power, has to be the track "Reason to Believe," an arpeggio-filled, near-ballad that's perhaps best described as Arch Enemy's "A Tout Le Monde." In addition to roaring in the death-metal style that Arch Enemy have long been known for, frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz sings in a sultry, vulnerable tone for the verse, an aggressive, catchy soprano for the pre-chorus and, at the end of the song, she layers tuneful vocals atop her bestial scream.

"Some people are really surprised that I can sing different ways," White-Gluz says. "But I've been doing that since high school and in my other bands, [such as the Agonist], so that's nothing new to me. In the Arch Enemy world, it seems like there were only a few people who knew that. When I posted the video I did with Kamelot for 'Liar, Liar,' a lot of people were like, 'Um, what is going on?' And I was like, 'Wait, you don't know about this? [Laughs] From that point on, a lot of people were like, 'Wow, we want to hear clean singing in Arch Enemy, too. And actually, Michael [Amott, Arch Enemy guitarist] had been dying to write sort of like an extreme-metal ballad. So it was perfect."

"Yes, I've always wanted to have kind of a ballad," Amott confirms. "I think all the best metal bands have ballads. Cool ones like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or early Manowar, and, like, Scorpions or something. I think having a song like 'Reason to Believe,' which sort of takes you somewhere else, makes us more of a complete metal band. Alissa can do those kinds of vocals really well and that has opened a lot of doors for us, musically."

To that end, Will to Power could ultimately come to be seen as the bridge between War Eternal and whatever comes next. Now that White-Gluz and Amott have opened the door to melodic metal vocals, and with guitarist Jeff Loomis, who joined in 2014, hoping to contribute actual songs to the next album — not just solos, as he did on Will to Power — there's a lot of potential for Arch Enemy to burst their melodic-death-metal constraints and take on an entirely new, possibly more progressive form, much like Opeth did with Ghost Reveries or Enslaved did on Monumension.

Both White-Gluz and Amott are extremely excited about the new musical flexibility of Arch Enemy, yet both are wary of committing to any major changes in the future. "We can do many different things as a band," the singer says. "But that doesn't mean we should do that. If we did all we're capable of, it doesn't necessarily mean we'd be writing better songs. None of us are huge fans of bands that seem to go, 'OK, I'm gonna sing for no reason and then scream for no reason just because I can.' Everything has to be intentional and deliberate. And it's hard to say where the next one will take us because we haven't written those songs yet."

"It's definitely nice to know there are these extra things we can do now," concludes Amott. "They're like additional tools we can use. But we still want to keep our identity as a band, so I don't think we're going to go crazy with it. We're just gonna keep being ourselves and, hopefully, everyone will be OK with that."