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Interview

New Arch Enemy Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz Discusses New Band And Album

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Band Photo: Arch Enemy (?)

Back in March, Century Media Records announced Angela Gassow would be stepping down as Arch Enemy's singer and taking on a management role. The voice of Arch Enemy for 13 years, Gassow lent her seething pitch to 6 albums. In addition her longevity, Gassow is seen as one of the greatest female vocalists in the realm of extreme metal. This being said, finding another female who can crush it like Angela seems a lofty task. She looked to Canada to find a pretty, blue-haired maiden named Alissa White-Gluz.

White-Gluz possesses the attitude, voice and experience the band so desired. She had released three albums with fellow Century Media artists, The Agonist. Her ability to growl certainly raised a few eyebrows including those of Angela Gassow. Gassow called her and asked if she could fill the spot, which White-Gluz obviously accepted. Since then, White-Gluz left Canada for Sweden to record the band's 9th studio album "War Eternal."

With just a month to spare before the album hits American shores, I called Alissa to get her thoughts on the new album. She was on vacation in New York, but still found the time to discuss joining the band and making this album.

Rex_84: First of all, congratulations in landing the front person gig with Arch Enemy. When I first heard The Agonist I compared you to Angela Gassow in my review. I understand your first metal album was "Wages of Sin."

Alissa White-Gluz: That was the first metal album I bought, other than the standard classics like Pantera, Metallica, Slayer and stuff like that, but the first time somebody recommended a band and I was "I don't know that band. I'll have to check it out." That was "Wages of Sin."

Rex_84: Did the album help you develop your voice?

White-Gluz: I was already singing in a band before that, but I wasn't doing any growls. I had only written four songs at that point in my life. I had just started. When I heard "Wages of Sin," I wanted to do that. It sounded pretty cool. I didn't really study voice; it was a trial and error until I got a cool sound. "Wages of Sin" was the turning point for that.

Rex_84: It always helps when you can sing in the shower or in the car, a place where nobody can hear you as you develop your voice.

White-Gluz: Yeah, I went into my rehearsal for the band I was in at the time and I wanted to just try it, and it actually worked the first time. It wasn't that good (laughs), but it was still a growl. So my band said they wanted more of that, so I started incorporating that into my song writing.

Rex_84: Angela called you to ask if you would join the band. Is this correct?

White-Gluz: Yeah, she wanted to retire and she thought the band would be able to continue strong with me fronting it, so she recommended me to the guys. She told me to get in touch with the guys because we had some things to discuss.

Rex_84: How did you get to know her and the band, was that from touring with Arch Enemy?

White-Gluz: No, actually we never toured with them. I got to know Angela because she reached out to me while I was on one of my first tours by email. I don't know how she got my email (laughs), but she just wanted to offer advice and give me some tips on touring and stuff like that, so I kept in touch with her, in that regards, since then.

Rex_84: Arch Enemy releases "War Eternal" on June 10th. How do you feel about this recording?

White-Gluz: This album is great! The circumstances surrounding the creation of this album, writing the lyrics and recording it, I'm just happy to have it finally come out. I think people are going to like it. The production quality is amazing! I always wanted an album that would sound this full. I'm a really big fan of this album, myself. Even if I weren't in the band and Arch Enemy put out this album, I would pick it up and say it's great. I'm really excited. The 10th of June is my brother's birthday, so that's nice, too.

Rex_84: Tell me about this album title? Does the album reflect this title?

White-Gluz: Yeah, I think it does. This album ended up being a lot more personal than maybe some of my previous or Michael's previous lyrics. In the past, a topic like war or a political or global issue was what we normally wrote about. We were writing in two different bands, but we happen to have similar topics in our writing. Then when we were writing for this album, we had a collection of lyrics for this album, but we found that we were actually writing on similar things. Fighting the ongoing war in your day-to-day life, everybody has their battle going on that nobody else knows about. And then there are song titles like "Never Forgive, Never Forget and on and on, I think it ties in very nicely. It wasn't something we planned out, but that is the way it turned out, so it worked out really nicely. I think we really saw eye to eye and were experiencing similar things in our lives, so we ended up writing about the same topics even though we have different styles of writing lyrics.

Rex_84: You write songs at night when you can't sleep.

White-Gluz: Yeah, I didn't always do that, but I've become really bad at sleeping recently, so when I have nothing else to do in the middle of the night, and my brain is going crazy firing up dreams and nightmares, I just pull out a paper and pen or pull up Notepad on my phone and start writing lyrics. Usually, they're pretty cool.

Rex_84: Is it a type of release for you? Can you go to sleep after writing a song?

White-Gluz: Sometimes yes and sometimes I'm all pumped up because of the lyrics I wrote, so I'm even less sleepy (laughs).

Rex_84: Speaking on the album title, the cover art created by Costin Chioreanu is interesting. He personified rats and pigs holding a baby. How do you perceive this album cover. Does it say something about our society?

White-Gluz: Yeah, absolutely. I think the album artwork fits very nicely with the whole concept of the album and the lyrics. Also, visually it's very striking artwork. Rats and pigs in terms of people, not in terms of the animals, they're fine, but if you talk about a person being a rat or a pig or a snake, there is a snake on the art work too, on one of the other panels, it's saying they're vengeful and greedy, they're out to get you and that's exactly what we have here. The ones that have pig and rat heads are also wearing corporate suits or religious garb. It's basically showing that as soon as you're born, you're at the mercy of all of these things that are trying to tug at you. There are four of them, so it's like the four cardinal points, four points of the earth are working against you. Really, the only thing that protects you from this is death! We managed to display that really nicely through the artist Costin Chioreanu. He is a really, really cool artist. I think he did a great job!

Rex_84: You use that imagery for the lyric video "As The Pages Burn." Why did you use it for that? Was it the first thing you put out so you just wanted to showcase the art work?

White-Gluz: Yeah, I think it's a nice way to display the artwork and also show the lyrics to that song. We all agree that's a pretty strong song. That was one of the songs I wrote the lyrics to, so I was very happy to have a lyric video for it. Lyrics are important to me. We have some other visual elements ready to go, but we're not going to release it all at once. We're going to let it go bit by bit, and since the album artwork was just released, I think it was a cool way to get people to look at that and listen to a new song.

Rex_84: The title track is first single that came out as a radio edit. Is this an edit for content or just for time?

White-Gluz: Is there a radio edit for "War Eternal?" I didn't even know that. I swear in that song, maybe that's why. I don't know (laughs). If there is an edit (I double checked my file, and yes, it's marked "radio edit"-Rex_84) I haven't heard it yet.

Rex_84: What was it like filming the video for this track?

White-Gluz: It was great. It was a lot of work condensed into a very short period of time, but Patric Ullaeus is a renown videographer and I got a chance to work with him. He's won awards. He does a really great job. He's done other Arch Enemy videos, In Flames. He does everyone's video, basically, especially in Sweden. It was very cool to work with him. It's one of those situations where you know the person you're working with is super talented and you can just trust them and know that it's going to be good. Actually, that's what this whole album process was like, so it's been really cool to work on it.

Rex_84: Speaking of the album process, you live in Canada, does the rest of the band live in Sweden?

White-Gluz: I live in Canada, but the rest of the band lives in Sweden except for Nick Cordle. He lives in Virginia.

Rex_84: How did you record the album?

White-Gluz: We went to Sweden.

Rex_84: You will debut new material on a short eastern European tour before the album drops. How do you practice with the band seems how you live in Canada and Nick lives in America.

White-Gluz: We're going to do pre-production rehearsal, so rather than just casually jamming here and there, we are going to rehearse in a condensed format for a few weeks leading up to the tour. We're going to do that in Germany coming up pretty soon.

Rex_84: What's after the eastern Europe tour?

White-Gluz: We're book righted up to the end of the year and beyond. We're even booked into next year, too. We have the Eastern European run and then we're doing all the big festivals in Europe. Then, we're going to be doing a full European tour with special guest, Kreator. We're going to be doing Loud Park in Japan. We also have a U.S.A. tour that we're going to be announcing soon, so we're really booked head to toe.

Rex_84: Is this the most touring you've done in your life?

White-Gluz: I've been touring a lot, actually. I did the entire "Silverthorn" run with Kamelot. This is probably going to be the most, but I've come close before, for sure.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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