I’ve encountered Amaranthe a couple of times – supporting Powerwolf last year and more recently with Sabaton in London – and each time they’ve bent my ear just a little bit more. Over recent weeks Spotify has been including them in some random playlists and I’ve started to appreciate their sound a little more. It’s not that I don’t like dancy/pop/metal acts (I wish I could catch Rave The Reqviem live, for example), I think they’re more of a “mood” thing for me – and sandwiched between Kissin’ Dynamite and Powerwolf that first time just didn’t do them any favours.
However, I like to think I’m open minded hence when I saw Manifest appear in our review pile I nabbed it for myself. I am glad I did. The band claim this is a darker album than their previous efforts, something I can’t really confirm, but it is an enjoyable dozen songs with plenty of influences and – of course – that three-throat lineup on the vocals.
With a lead singer like Elize Ryd in your band, it would be tempting to fling her up front and just rely on the old “female-fronted” label to help shift a few tickets and albums. While she’s definitely the central voice, the pairing of Henrik and Nils with their vastly differing styles really gives Amaranthe something unique. Nils really gets to demonstrate his range on the album’s slowest, most balladic track “Crystalline” – I never realised he could hit those high notes! Amaranthe wouldn’t be the same without Henrik’s harsh vocals, though, and they are as effective on the likes of “Archangel” as they’ve ever been, almost acting as a bridge between the singers and the musicians.
He takes point on “BOOM!” which is more of a rap metal homage than anything else, and features some great drops in the opening salvo before the band as a whole send it soaring into anthem territory.
Carefully blending power metal, opera, pop and dance, Amaranthe have finally broken me down. I enjoyed every song on the album, some more than others, but I’m sold.
Manifest isn’t going to be for everyone. The metal “purists” will decry the addition of the dance influences and keyboards, or the fact that it’s bouncy and poppy in places. That’s fine, each to their own, but I’ve been swayed and I’ve really enjoyed having an early listen. Sure, they’re fairly radio-friendly but why shouldn’t they be? The musicianship is up there where it should be, the vocals are well crafted and it rocks as well as bounces. If you’re a fan of this genre, or fancy trying something a little different just to see what else is out there, then this is a great album to chuck on.
Manifest is out on October 2nd