There may have been some record execs who were a little concerned about the proposition of a six piece Swedish band who pretty much throw everything, possibly including the kitchen sink, at their music. Honestly, they had nothing to worry about, and besides, it’s fun watching journalists desperately floundering whilst trying to categorise Amaranthe. I however have opted for Epicpowerdeathmelodymetalgruntycore. Admittedly it’s not catchy, but it’s a work in progress.
Hopefully we’ve all gotten over the ridiculous “Death to false metal” type debacles, and that rock / metal can freely grow and develop without the over the top infighting that saw the wider genre spectacularly implode before being given a well deserved royal kicking with the arrival of Nirvana. Yes, if you like Machinehead or Slayer, Amaranthe may not be for you, but if you’re into Symphonic Metal, Metal, Power Metal, or just like good harmonies, then they have an incredible amount to offer you. You have Jake E doing clean vocals, an exceptional singer, could be considered a bit boy bandish, but that actually isn’t a problem at all. Elize Ryd is his female counterpart, again an incredible singer, could easily be a Eurovision entrant (and would probably win it) or in The Saturdays. Finally we have Henrik Englund, who may as well be Odin because he pretty much sucker punches everyone with some quite frankly brutal vocals. It should all be a monumental musical car crash, but it’s absolutely not.
Opening track Dynamite is dominated by Elize’s stunning voice, but locked in by some incredibly tight drums courtesy of Morten Løwe Sørensen, and epic guitars / bass from Olof Mörck and Johan Andreassen respectively. Second track, “Massive Addicitve” isn’t nearly as anthemic as other offerings, but you really can’t have an album full of non-stop anthemic blast out tracks because it would just be too exhausting. As a result it’s actually nice in giving a bit of balance to the opening of album. Some people have said that they like the music but maybe aren’t so keen on the vocals, and to them I say, NO, NO, and thrice NO. It’s good as it is, it’s their sound, it’s what sets them apart. If they replaced any of the singers, or became more “metal-ish”, then they would lose what I think is unique to them and just be like any other band, and we have enough of those already ta very much.
Third track on the album is Trinity which starts out with much more of an electronica intro before the guitars come blasting in. At the moment there’s only a lyric video for the song on their official channel, but for the most part when Amaranthe do a video to accompany one of their tracks, it’s usually something pretty awesome. So, in the mean time I have a cunning plan, so cunning, you can brush your teeth with it. Because they are so damned epic, you can pretty much watch a multitude of fast paced trailers with their music as backing. Now, we’re all fans of Game of Thrones (you’re not? What is wrong with you!?), so as an experiment, watch a Game of Thrones trailer with Amaranthe’s “Trinity” playing. Exhibit A below
Watch this one, but mute the sound
Play this at the same time as the video above, but have the sound up on this one
Am I right!? Right! Probably wouldn’t work so well with Watership Down.
“Digital World” sets off at a break neck pace, initially a bit Rammstein with Henrik given centre stage at the start. Then there’s a little moment where Elize comes in with “Like a satellite”, and momentarily she had me thinking of P.O.D. Purely the lyric and delivery just for a split second. “You can never die and never grow old” in the digital world, and it’s a sentiment, the notion that data will outlive us, that humanity maybe hasn’t quite come to terms with yet.
“True” has nice piano intro, and it’s definitely not as frenetic as the other tracks thus far. They’ve also not fallen into the “well we have three vocalists so we’d better use them all” trap. It’s a track that wouldn’t benefit from Henrik’s power, and the harmonies between Elize and Jake are given the space they need. It’s a testament to them not losing sight of the music, and of how well they work together as a band. “Unreal” I think belongs to Olof, who just nails it with his guitar solo. “Over and Done” starts off with another piano intro, with Jake on his own for a while. It’s actually nice for a change. I do wonder though if they should have perhaps just left it without the big chorus / guitar solos, and opted just for the pianos and vocals.
Henrik is rightfully given more prominence in “Danger Zone” with Olof doing yet more outstanding work on guitars. Following that, “Skyline” gets straight into it with no overly long introductions. Then an “Ordinary Abnormality” sees Henrik letting rip with a galloping rhythm pushing the track along at pace. “Exhale” draws the epic show to a close on a softer note.
Overall it’s a great album, with perhaps a little bit of a swing in the Symphonic Metal direction whilst still maintaining the sound of Amaranthe. Resistance is futile.