Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz: “We are racing against the clock of our own extinction”

Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz
(Image credit: Press)

Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz jumped through several pandemic-related hoops to fly to Germany in 2021 to work on her band’s 11th album, Deceivers. Little did she know that she’d end up staying there for a year, due to the stiff restrictions in her native Canada that meant she had little chance of returning home. Not surprisingly, Deceivers has turned out to be a melodic death metal explosion fuelled by pandemic-era nightmare.

Metal Hammer line break

This album’s called Deceivers and the first single was Deceiver, Deceiver. Clearly, deception is a key theme. Why is that?

“I think that it’s a universal theme that many people can relate to. It’s probably the emotion that sticks with you the longest throughout your life. Deception is a betrayal of trust, and trust is a precious emotion that’s handed out very selectively. So, I feel like it’s a pretty large emotion, and it’s a pretty good theme for metal actually. You can really sink your teeth into it and get some aggression out of it.” 

Another song is called House Of Mirrors. What’s that about?

“I’m exploring the concept of home. I started writing those lyrics during the beginning of the pandemic, when everybody had to stay at home. Suddenly, home didn’t feel like something good; it was a jail cell, pretty much. I found myself looking in the mirror more, which I thought was kind of strange. 

I [started] self-psychoanalysing: ‘Am I looking for companionship? Why am I so lonely now?’ I had this recurring nightmare where, where I live, I would find a secret door and it would lead to this whole other section of the house, with staircases and rooms that are physically impossible.”

Have you ever seen the film Coraline?

“Yes! It was exactly like that! So, there’s that, and the song Exiled From Earth is about climate change. We are racing against the clock of our own extinction, but we may have already dealt that final blow [against the environment].”

You’ve mentioned that, because of the pandemic, Deceivers took “a lot of travel, uncertainty and risk” to make. Can you elaborate on that?

“2021 was a very interesting year. I had to get over to Michael [Amott, guitarist, who lives in Germany] to finish vocal arrangements, then get to Denmark and record in [producer] Jacob Hansen’s studios, but Canadians were banned from flying to Germany. I flew to Germany, but didn’t know if I would be allowed in. 

There were many attempts to go somewhere else or get bandmembers to us, but they didn’t work for Covid reasons. What I ended up doing was staying in Europe for an entire year. I didn’t want to risk being far away from our hub, which is basically in Sweden and Germany, and not being able to get back to it. I rented a car and found a little home for myself in southern Germany; I stayed there for a whole year. I set up a studio down there and continued working on a lot of solo material.”

So we’re getting an Alissa White-Gluz solo album as well?

“Yeah, I’m working on that, but it’s gonna come out way after Deceivers. The Arch Enemy album is the one people should be looking forward to right now.”

Deceivers is out in July, but the first single, Deceiver, Deceiver, dropped last October. Why such a long build-up?

“The music industry’s ever-changing, but it still takes the same amount of time, effort and creativity to make a song. So, we decided that we’d start early and give people more singles. That way, when we play a show, there are more songs that they know, even if they haven’t dug into the record. Plus, it gives people something to look forward to every six or eight weeks.”

 Deceivers is out on July 29 via Century Media

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.