In The Spotlight: Michael Amott

Name: Michael Amott
Age: 42
Location: Sweden
Associated acts: Arch Enemy, Carcass, ex-Carnage, ex-Candlemass

Michael Amott is a half-Swedish half-British guitarist whose more famous works include playing with grindcore legends Carcass and founding melodic death metal group Arch Enemy. As a playing style, his is a slightly more unconventional style. Instead of bludgeoning the listener to death with chugging chords and harsh riffs, Amott is more inclined to leads and solos, taking inspiration from Michael Schenker and other hard rock guitarists, making for a now fairly distinctive style in the last few years.

One of my first metal bands back when I was 14 was Arch Enemy, and I remember the solos being the thing that grabbed me first (that and Angela’s distinctive voice). Since exploring his other work, I’ve really come to appreciate his style of guitar playing, and Heartwork remains one of my favorite albums.

Back before Arch Enemy, one of Amott’s first bands was the now classic Carnage, a group plagued with line-up changes who only managed two demos (both highly acclaimed) and a début before splitting. After that, he hooked up with Carcass to record several albums, starting with goregrind but eventually shifting to a more melodic death metal approach, particularly audible in Heartwork and their appropriately-titled final album Swansong. Here, you can hear the beginnings of a more melodic Amott, in the track provided, “Heartwork”.

After the breakup of Carcass, Amott formed a small project with brother Christopher and vocalist Johan Liiva. He didn’t intend for the band, Arch Enemy, to get that famous, but repeated rotation of their first single “Bury Me An Angel” on MTV Japan (back when MTV played music) resulted in a tour of the country and a label signing. Several albums later marked the first major change in line-up, with Liiva and Christopher leaving, and the arrival of one of metal’s most imposing frontwomen: Angela Gossow. The resulting album, Wages Of Sin, is a powerful burst of melodeath, and my favorite Arch Enemy record. Since then, the line-up has been churning several strong releases, including the recent Khaos Legions, with more neoclassical and punk leanings. The song “Nemesis”, from Doomsday Machine, is a great example of Amott’s melodic playing.

The final project to show you is a complete change around in style. Spiritual Beggars, a stoner-ish metal project formed a few years ago, has seen a variety of vocalists come through such as JB Christoffersson (Grand Magus) and most recently Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind). The project’s kind of on hold at the moment due to Amott’s level of involvement in Arch Enemy, but maybe a new album will see the light of day. For now, we have Ad Astra, released in 2006, which was my first introduction, and “Wonderful World” is a fun and grooving track taken from it.

‘Scuse the album cover.

To conclude as a bonus feature, I’d like to leave you with one of the most amusing covers of a metal song I’ve ever heard. In keeping with the German sense of humor*, I’m not entirely sure if this is a joke, but if it is then it’s a damn good one. Here’s Arch Enemy covering the power metal classic, “The Book Of Heavy Metal”.

*If Angela is reading this, I’m joking!

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