Interview with Arch Enemy: The Players Have Changed, The Game Remains The Same

Arch Enemy is back with a brand new album called War Eternal, which showcases some new blood in the form of Alissa White-Gluz on vocals, with Nick Cordle taking Chris Amott’s spot on guitar. I spoke with Nick as he talked a little about the album and how he feels about Alissa White-Gluz taking the vocal reign from longtime front woman, Angela Gossow. We also talked about his influences and what the lyrical content of the album means to him. Hold onto your hats folks, because even though the players have changed, the game remains the same… And it’s still just as deadly.

Nick, this is your first album with Arch Enemy after previously doing work for Arsis on one of my all-time favorite Arsis discs, Starve For The Devil. How is playing in Arch Enemy different from playing in a band like Arsis?

Glad you liked Starve! Being in Arch Enemy is actually not as different as some people might imagine. Working on new music is a much more involved process in this band. On tour, I’m a guitarist rather than a guitarist/merch guy/driver/accountant. I can hold my guitar playing up to a much higher standard. I’ve gotten a lot better in the last couple years!

This new injection of Arch Enemy with Alissa White-Gluz on vocals and you on guitars is much different than the original line-up of Christopher and Michael Amott of past albums. How did you choose to approach the material on War Eternal?

When Angela made her decision and we started to look at working with Alissa, we already had almost half the album in some state of demo. And even a few years ago before I was in the band, there was already a basic notion to have this album be a bit faster and heavier than the last one. We were already in uncharted waters from the first rehearsal room jams! So the approach was just to take a microscope to every aspect of the songs and make them as strong as they can be.

Let’s talk about the writing and recording process for War Eternal. How long did it take to write and record this disc, and did you run into any problems during that process?

The writing went on for a very long time. (Laughs) It’s convenient that I like to make tons of demos and circle back over things over and over when I work on music, because that’s basically how everybody in this band sees things. Michael and I did a big chunk of the early work at my home in America, and then a lot more in Sweden with the full band. The actual recording was pretty easy after all that preparation.

Why did you choose to be in Arch Enemy and what are some of your personal favorite albums from the band? Are there any songs in particular that you can’t wait to play live?

Arch Enemy was a favorite band of mine for a long time and I was already on my way out of Arsis at the time. It was a pretty easy decision on my end. We’re already rehearsing up the new songs. I’m excited to play “War Eternal” and “No More Regrets!” My favorite stuff is usually the really fastintense tracks which connect well live. “Bloodstained Cross” and “Blood on Your Hands” come to mind.

When did you first find out that long-time frontwoman Angela Gossow was no longer going to be in the band? Were you surprised about new frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz’s performance? What do you think of her work in The Agonist? Do you think that she was the right pick to replace Angela?

The change happened in late 2013. Alissa was at the top of the list to begin with. She’s toured and recorded longer than I have and she’s already quite well-established, as you know. That helped a lot. And once we got her in the room and started working, things moved easily. We started feeling good about it right away. So yes, hands down; she’s the right choice!

Let’s talk about lyrical matter for the album. What is the focus of War Eternal and what inspired it?

It has slightly different meaning to each of us. For me it’s about keeping my focus and keeping my priorities in order. We’re constantly surrounded by clickbait and distractions and multitasking and other people’s opinions, none of which really matter. What matters is that I follow my own ears and create something meaningful, so that’s what I aspire to.

What is it like jamming with the one and only Michael Amott? I’m sure you have some great stories to share about working with the legend.

(Chuckles) Stories… Isn’t it the high fashion to write a gossipy tell-all memoir once the actual musical work dries up? Hopefully I’ve got some time before I reach that point. Michael is a lot of fun to jam with! He’s got a limitless reserve of energy and enthusiasm for making new music. It’s always fun to play with people who play really well!

What cans fans expect from the tour? What songs are you going to be playing this time around? A mixture from all the albums or mostly material from the new one but with some classics mixed in to spice things up?

They can expect loud sounds and flashing lights! We’ve got three new songs in there to start out and we’re gonna add more as we go. Tons of the classics as well. It’s a totally new production, with new staging, lights… the whole thing. We’re rehearsing it up right now!

Who inspired you to first pick up guitar and play music?

I was raised in a musical family so it was just sort of the thing to do. The guitar was initially an act of ten-year-old rebellion against my piano and violin wielding parents. It didn’t really click for me until I heard metal, though. I had great teachers as a kid but my real lessons were working out Metallica tunes by ear as a teenager. It’s probably a familiar story to a lot of musicians out there these days!

What would you be doing if you weren’t playing guitar right now for one of the world’s biggest melodic death metal bands? What kind of things do you enjoy outside of music?

I like to think I’d be involved in some kind of audio work, engineering, composing for film or games, something like that. If I had to get away from music entirely, then I’d be back in school to get a second degree. Probably math, with an outside shot at computer engineering. I may be one of the most shamelessly geeky people that plays guitar for a living.

What are your top five favorite albums of all time?

Depeche Mode – Violator
Megadeth – Peace Sells
Arsis – A Celebration of Guilt
Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith
Joe Henderson – In ‘n Out

That’s today’s answer. It’s a revolving door, you know! (Laughs)

Thanks for answering my questions and best of luck on the new album! You represent the future of one of melodic death metal’s most respected bands. – Eric

Get your hands on War Eternal here:

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