Arch Enemy Guitarist Christopher Amott Discusses His Solo Project Armageddon
Band Photo: Arch Enemy (?)
Christopher Amott may be most well known for his heavy guitar work in Arch Enemy, but he also spent some time in the more melodic side of metal with his side project Armageddon. The band released three albums during its lifetime, but due to the nature of record contracts they only saw a limited release in Japan. The final two albums "Embrace The Mystery" and "Three" have finally seen an extended release as a double CD set in the U.S. and Europe. Samples of Armageddon's music are available for streaming at this location. Christopher took some time during his current tour with Arch Enemy to talk to me about the Armageddon albums and his upcoming solo release "Follow Your Heart."
xFiruath: You are pretty established in the metal scene, but I’m wondering about how you first got started out. How long have you been involved in metal and who are your musical influences?
Christopher: I started playing guitar when I was 14. My brother Michael, who plays in Arch Enemy as well, was in a band called Carcass. I was borrowing his guitar and he taught me the basics. Then I just took on my own from there. I started playing a lot and listening to records, all the big bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica. Just the basic stuff, trying to copy that.
xFiruath: Your band Armageddon is about to have two albums re-released. Can you give me a run down of the band’s history?
Christopher: It started in ’97 and I don’t know where to start about it. It’s not really a band you know, it’s more a project. My brother helped me write that. We had just started Arch Enemy and my brother talked to this Swedish record label about me doing a solo album. So we did that and it was a concept album. My brother wrote the lyrics and it was a concept album about the end of planet Earth, hence the name Armageddon. So that came out just in Japan at the time. We worked with Arch Enemy for a few years and then I started writing some more solo material. I found a singer in Sweden who was a melodic old school singer. I started writing music with him and that turned out to be the second Armageddon album. We kept the name because it was kind of linked to me and my work outside of Arch Enemy. It was just better than calling it something else, so that’s that.
xFiruath: Did you do vocals on any of the albums?
Christopher: I did the vocals on the last one that came out in 2002.
xFiruath: The albums were all only originally released in Japan and they are just now about to see releases in the U.S. and Europe. How did that all come about?
Christopher: I’ve always been on the contract with Century Media in Europe and the U.S. They own the rights to the Armageddon albums. A manager at the time said we should wait to release those because we were re-negotiating the deal. We didn’t have good relations at the time and we were fighting about stuff. Time just went by and I did other stuff and it ended up just sitting there. We were busy with Arch Enemy. I have the masters so I just went ahead and had them do it. I don’t think there is a master for the first album. This old Swedish label we went through claimed the rights to that one so we’re kind of fighting with them for the moment.
xFiruath: For fans who have heard your work in Arch Enemy but haven’t had the chance to listen to Armageddon yet, how would you describe the sound of the band and how is it different from your other music?
Christopher: I don’t know, I’m not really into selling it. It’s out there now and I’m not going to tour for it or anything. It’s just this old project of mine. I’m really focusing on Arch Enemy. Armageddon is more melodic and classic. It was what I was into at the time, like this sort of ‘80s Guitar Hero music. Really guitar heavy and with clean vocals.
xFiruath: So essentially Armageddon is dead and done at this point. There won’t be any more albums or anything?
Christopher: No, that’s done.
xFiruath: I had read in another interview you did that you actually have a different solo project coming up apart from Armageddon?
Christopher: Yeah I just finished doing a solo album. It’s called “Follow Your Heart” and it’s not metal, it’s kind of diverse. It’s a bit of everything and sort of psychedelic and more ‘70s singer/songwriter style. It’s a bit more bluesy and sort of diverse. More airy than Arch Enemy and not as dense. It’s got all clean vocals.
xFiruath: Any idea when that one is going to see the light of day?
Christopher: That’s going to be out in a few months. I’m looking forward to releasing it because I’ve been working on it for a long time. I did the front cover for that one as well. I started painting in recent years so I designed the artwork for that one.
xFiruath: Did you use session musicians for the recording or did you do all the instruments?
Christopher: I played the guitar and some keyboards. I brought on a bass player and drummer and a real “good” keyboard player so to speak. I used some friends of mine from Sweden, but nobody famous.
xFiruath: So what’s going on with Arch Enemy right now?
Christopher: We’re on tour in the U.S. right now. I’m in Chicago tonight and we’re playing at the House of Blues. We’re doing Canada and the U.S. After that we’ll take some time off as we’re basically trying to write a new album. We’re collecting bits and pieces and ideas on the road. We’re going to do a few festivals in the summer as well.
xFiruath: After these tour dates is it going to be quite some time before Arch Enemy returns to the States?
Christopher: Yes, it will be. We have to renew our work visas too. It’s good to be over here, the shows are really great.
xFiruath: It was about two years ago Arch Enemy parted with Fredrick Åkesson, who joined Opeth, and you returned to the band. Right after that you guys did the Defenders of the Faith tour where Arch Enemy toured with Opeth. I got to speak with Mikael Akerfeldt about that but I’d like to get your take on it. Was it weird at all to be touring with Opeth right after Fredrick left?
Christopher: No, we remained friends. He kind of understood that I was going to come back. He was just filling in. He wasn’t filling in to start with, but he totally accepted that and got the gig with Opeth straight after so everything turned out fine. We’re friends and we even met up when he was rehearsing with Arch Enemy and jam and stuff. He’d ask me about how I played the solos and all that. No hard feelings there.
xFiruath: In your spare time what music have you been listening to lately?
Christopher: I don’t listen to a whole lot of metal actually. I used to. I usually put on the old stuff if I do listen to metal. The stuff I grew up listening to like Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Slayer. I listen to all genres of music, anything, but mostly older stuff. I don’t want to sound like an old man or anything, but I haven’t heard anything great that’s new, it’s just not for me you know.
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