Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow Dishes On "Khaos Legions," Atheism, Festivals, And More
Band Photo: Arch Enemy (?)
Among the most well known of the heavy metal front women in the scene today, Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow has lent her distinctive growls and screams again to the band's new album "Khaos Legions" (reviewed here).
With "Khaos Legions" now unleashed, Angela took out some time to discuss the new album with Metalunderground.com, delving into the writing and recording process, as well as touching on the lyrical themes. She also opened up about her lack of belief in any gods, stating, "This planet is a wonderful place as it is, we do not need to add fairies and angels to it. Religion is truly about humankind’s vanity." Angela went further into the subject of atheism, making her feelings on the subject clear in no uncertain terms by adding, "I am fine with religion as a purely private choice, just like children are allowed to believe in Santa Claus. Anybody can believe in anything, as long as it does not affect a society so profoundly like it still does to this day. Religion is a powerful tool to govern whole societies with fear, deprive people of their basic human rights and serve as an excuse to wage war and terror. Religion is the true root of all evil."
Below you can find the complete interview, which also includes the Arch Enemy vocalist's explanation of the inspiration behind the new album artwork, and information on the band's upcoming U.S. tour dates.
xFiruath: When were the songs for “Khaos Legions” written and what’s a writing session like for an Arch Enemy song?
Angela: We jam backstage, in the tour bus, or in the rehearsal room on riffs until a song manifests itself. Michael writes most of the riffs, either at home or spontaneously in the rehearsal room, but Chris and also Daniel and Sharlee contribute some. I usually wait until we have a demo version of a new song recorded, then I start playing around with the words and lyrical ideas I have put down over time, fitting them on the song.
xFiruath: Compared to earlier material like “Anthems of Rebellion” or even “Rise of the Tyrant,” how does the new album sound and what’s different this time around?
Angela: It is still Arch Enemy. We have developed a distinct style over the last 15 years and we still write very organically, together as a band. The songs are different of course, we put down whatever comes out. It is never contrived. “Khaos Legions” is very diverse as it has been written over a longer period of time – almost 4 years. It is a mirror of our musical journey, influences and development as musicians for this period of time. So it definitely sounds different than the previous albums, but it’s hard to pinpoint this. Listen to it and you will hear the difference.
xFiruath: Who handled the artwork and how does it tie into the album’s theme?
Angela: We gave Brent Elliot White a pretty directed idea of how we wanted the artwork to look like. It is inspired by the French painting “Liberty Leading The People,” but set against a post-apocalyptic scene in the future. The 5 main protagonists on the cover resemble a certain similarity to the Arch Enemy members, except they are a bit more scary looking and they lead the army of “chaos” into the future… which will hopefully be better than the current state of the world.
xFiruath: Where did you record “Khaos Legions,” who did you work with, and do you guys stay at the studio or head home at night to be with your families?
Angela: We recorded in a local studio nearby, engineering most of it ourselves. It’s been bone-dry work, every day until late into the evening/nights. We are perfectionists, so we spend a lot of time on details. Andy Sneap mixed and mastered the album. He is a superb producer we can trust almost blindly. He knows how we want the end-result to sound like.
xFiruath: I run an atheist blog, so I was interested to see you discussing your atheism in several interviews. Is lack of belief in any gods or goddesses something that makes its way into the lyrics or themes regularly, and are there any particular books or blogs on the subject of atheism that you’d recommend to your fans?
Angela: Yes, I am a die-hard atheist, so are the Arch-boys. I am disgusted by the fact that religion and superstition are still reigning supreme, despite our advanced knowledge and scientific proof how the world and the universe came about. I like Richard Dawkins sarcastic takes on the subject and have watched many of his documentaries and read his books. I can highly recommend “The God Delusion.” This planet is a wonderful place as it is, we do not need to add fairies and angels to it. Religion is truly about humankind’s vanity. People like to believe that there is a god who does not only watch the entire galaxy and its many universes closely, but pretty much micro-manages the whole affair by zooming in on one special universe, then on a tiny little planet in there, where us humans roam like dust particles.. Yeah, sure, he cares about each and every one of them, reading their minds, knowing and determining their past, present and future.
This is such an absurd idea by itself, it almost doesn’t need any further scientific explanation of the non-existence of “god.” The stories about the creation of this planet in the “holy books,” made up by some hallucinating human 2000 years ago are simply ridiculous and absolutely impossible. They neglect our modern day knowledge and they defy hard proof. And yet those religions play a leading role in many countries politics to this day. It’s simply putting the human intellect to shame. It belittles our intelligence. I am fine with religion as a purely private choice, just like children are allowed to believe in Santa Claus. Anybody can believe in anything, as long as it does not affect a society so profoundly like it still does to this day. Religion is a powerful tool to govern whole societies with fear, deprive people of their basic human rights and serve as an excuse to wage war and terror. Religion is the true root of all evil.
On “Khaos Legions,” the songs “Bloodstained Cross,” “No Gods No Masters,” and “Cult Of Chaos” deal with this subject. They are communicating an atheist, pro-“freedom of mind” message. Atheism puts responsibility back into people’s hands, it opens the door to a world without religious terror and prejudice.
xFiruath: Have you been playing the new material live and how has the fan reaction been so far?
Angela: Yes, we have played “Bloodstained Cross,” “No Gods No Masters,” “Yesterday Is Dead And Gone,” and “Under Black Flags We March” live so far during the European festival season and they have already become powerful live tracks. It is very enjoyable to get our message of freedom out there!
xFiruath: Where is Arch Enemy headed out on tour in the near future?
Angela: We will come over to the U.S. in September and October this year for a fantastic tour. We are bringing Devildriver, Warbringer, and Chthonic with us – don’t miss out on this package! Tour dates are up on our website. Afterwards we will play Loudpark Festival in Japan, then embark on a European headline tour, then go to South America and South East Asia. We will be playing Israel and India for the first time as well – very excited about that.
xFiruath: What sort of music do you personally listen to in your free time?
Angela: I like my music to be metal, except when I do my yoga sessions, then its more ambient or classical music. I love classical music, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Edward Grieg.
xFiruath: Have you guys played any really memorable festivals or live shows lately?
Angela: Yes, we have just done a massive run of festivals here in Europe. Loved headlining the Metalfests in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, and Czech Repulik. Nothing beats that, haha. Our Graspop show was amazing and so was Sonisphere Spain yesterday. It is a great feeling to see thousands of fists up in the air, actually further out than one can see.
xFiruath: Do you attend shows very often and have you seen any great performances in recent memory?
Angela: We play a lot of festivals, so we get to see a lot of bands.. I am glad I got to see Judas Priest at Graspop this year as it might be one of their last rounds. The great classic metal bands will be retiring one day, so whenever you get the chance to catch ’em live, go and watch them!
xFiruath: What else would you like to say?
Angela: Check out our new album “Khaos Legions” and make sure to come out and celebrate metal with us live. Support the bands you love – we won’t be around forever either and making albums and touring gets harder and harder in the current economical climate. Keep music alive! Thank you for your support!
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