Earlier this summer, internationally famed Swedish metal band Arch Enemy released their eighth studio project Khaos Legions. In just a couple of months, it's become the band's top-selling album in their fifteen-year history (beating the record set by their 2007 release Rise of the Tyrant), and found a spot on many best-of-2011 album lists. Hailed among fans for their roof-raising extreme metal anthems, the band is rapidly expanding their influence around the world, and they'll be reaching North American shores this fall as part of their current world tour. I had a chance to chat with drummer Daniel Erlandsson about Khaos Legions, and you can check out that interview – along with a mini-review of the album and the video "Yesterday is Dead and Gone" – after the jump.
While it still packs the supreme ground-shaking riffs and technical lead wizardry of guitarist brothers Michael and Christopher Amott, and the fierce rebel-warrior lyrics delivered by the stunning Angela Gossow, there's an added emphasis on sweeping melodies and cleaner guitar sounds on Khaos Legions, with ominous mood pieces scattered through the soundscape (beginning with the heart-pounding opener "Khaos Overture") to round out the apocalyptic vibe, and much more variation in song tempos. While they mix and match metal styles throughout the album – they even leave death metal behind to thrash their asses off in cuts like "Bloodstained Cross" – the band's songwriting skills remain the guiding force, most powerfully in sweeping anthems like "Yesterday is Dead and Gone" and the cinematic masterpiece "Cruelty Without Beauty," which is my personal favorite and possibly one of the band's finest moments.
Not only does Khaos Legions surpass Rise of the Tyrant, I daresay it might even outclass their massive 2005 release Doomsday Machine... which is saying a lot, because that one's a mega-crusher and fan favorite. I think in the long run this is going to be one of the band's benchmark records, and definitely worth checking out if you're into grand-scale melodic death metal.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with drummer Daniel Erlandsson while the band was in the thick of their Khaos Legions world tour. Check out our chat below...
FEARnet: Now that the Khaos tour is underway, have you been or will you be filming any of those shows for DVD?
DANIEL: Yes, we've planned to film some of the upcoming shows; we'll see what comes out of that. But making a new live DVD is definitely a plan for the near future.
Since you re-recorded some of your early-era songs a couple of years back, have you added more of those songs to your set on this tour?
Yeah, we started doing that during the Root Of All Evil tour, but some of the songs on that album have been in the setlist for years too – like "The Immortal" and "Bury Me An Angel." It was a project that came about because we kept getting requests from our fans to play older songs live. There's a lot of good songs on those albums, and we wanted to present them with our current line-up... so basically it was something we did for the fans.
Khaos Legions has an apocalyptic feel that weaves through all the tracks. Is there a central theme that ties the songs together?
There is a concept loosely connecting the songs, and that's based around personal freedom, definitely against religion and authority. The album artwork has got a very dark feel to it, and some of the music does too.
What inspired you to explore so many different metal styles on this record?
It's just our influences shining through, I would say; between the five of us, we like music from many different genres. Also, I think it's because we didn't write any new music for three or four years after Rise of the Tyrant. During that time the inspiration was building up slowly, and some new ideas were demoed on the road, so when we finally decided to take a break from touring in order to write new music, there was already tons of ideas laying around, and we felt inspired and creative. It was a good vibe in the rehearsal room.
A lot of your fans hang out on FEARnet, and I'm sure they'd like to know what's the last good horror movie you've seen lately.
I'm probably going to sound like a wuss now... but the last one I saw was the original Japanese version of The Ring, and I thought that was scary!
What horror movie made the strongest impression on you?
I remember seeing The Exorcist when I was younger, and that had a deeply frightening effect on me.
I don't know how well that film has stood the test of time... I'm guessing probably not very well.
Well, it's still pretty scary to me. How about your own real-life fears or nightmares? Do they inspire your music in any way?
If anything, I hope our music inspires people to overcome their fears!