Michael Amott

Groupology: 
Arch Enemy, Carcass, Carnage, Spiritual Beggars
Strengths: 
  • Taste and technique: see "Guitar Style" below.
  • Consistency and songwriting: his terrific sense of melody and hooks, combined with the ability to come up with great riffs, make for brilliant metal songwriting. Arch Enemy and Spiritual Beggars are Michael's brainchildren, and both bands have a remarkably consistent discography, without a single dud.
  • With Arch Enemy, his brother Christopher: Chris is an extremely impressive player, with monster chops and a more neoclassically-oriented style. The brothers together in Arch Enemy are, in my opinion, the most exciting twin lead guitar team since the glory days of Priest or Maiden.
Weaknesses: 

- At a point in time (his Krank and Randall eras), Michael's tone sometimes sounded way too gainy and processed. This has been fixed since he's back to a trusty rig choice based on Marshall JCM amps.

- Some people may find his Schenker fixation too obvious and sometimes repetitive.

Guitar Style: 

Michael's lead playing incorporates some modern chops while retaining the spirit and taste of classic metal players from the 70s (even if he's often tuned down to C). This is true not only in the "retro" metal context of Spiritual Beggars, but within Arch Enemy's melodic death metal as well. His melodic lines are easily recognizable and memorable. Michael is a self-taught player whose most obvious influence is Michael Schenker, and he uses a mix of pentatonic and aeolian licks instead of the neo-classical stuff you'd expect from a player of that generation. He also acknowledges inspiration by Uli Jon Roth, Frank Marino, Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi, but this shows less obviously in his playing, except maybe for some Iommi-style downtuned riffing. Michael's style involves a lot of wah, and fortunately he is one of those players who really can pull it off in a masterful and discerning way, either as a filter "a la Schenker", or as a means to put a dramatic accent on trills and bends. Michael also has a great vibrato: wide, rather slow, expressive and tasty. His rhythm playing with Arch Enemy involves a lot of tight thrash metal riffing. The Spiritual Beggars rhythm stuff is more diverse and exciting from a Dino perspective.

Typical Gear Choices: 

Michael mostly uses various models of hardtail Vs tuned down to C. He was endorsed by ESP and got a signature "Ninja" series. He is now endorsed by Dean Guitars. The ESP models were equipped with Seymour Duncan SH1/SH4 pickups, the new Dean "Tyrant" ones include a signature pickup in the bridge. As for amps, Michael has been playing through various Marshalls, Peavey 5150s, Kranks and Randall, who even released a Amott signature head. In 2009 he parted ways with Randall, and went back to a classic rig based on Marshall JCM800 2205 heads pushed by a TS-808, with great results. Michael has used various wah pedals, nowadays he has a signature HBE model.

What You Need to Know: 

Michael Amott might be the most Dino among contemporary metal players. His playing and songwriting brilliantly blends classic metal with death/thrash aspects. For old-school metalheads looking for melody, hooks and twin leadwork in the context of brutal and technically demanding contemporary metal, Arch Enemy is the place to start (don't be a pussy about the growled vocals). Those looking for a more retro sound and spirit with a current twist will be absolutely delighted by Michael's other band Spiritual Beggars.

Essential Recordings: 
Arch Enemy: Tyrants of the Rising Sun, Khaos Legions. Spiritual Beggars: On Fire, Earth Blues. Carcass: Heartwork.