Amaranthe are known for their 3 distinctive singers each with a different style contributing to their untameable genre. Some say they are pop metalcore; others say just heavy metal and Elize Ryd (vocals) calls it “dance/rock with a taste of melodic death metal”. It is hard to describe them and I have found it hard to describe this album. This six-piece band from Sweden say they have stepped up their game with this release, and I was asked to investigate.
Manifest kicks off with a ‘Fearless’ pulsating dance/techno beat with Elize’s voice echoing through the keys before being slammed with thunderous drums and slashing guitars chords. As the first verse melts into an uplifting bridge, Elize’s vocal beauty is on full display as it runs in a catchy chorus – giving me feels of a heavy metal entry into the Eurovision Song Contest which we all know belongs to the Swedes! Let’s just say it would definitely get my vote!
‘Viral’ is the second track to be released with a music video to go with it during the pandemic. The theme of the music video is truly relevant to the current state that the world is in via the realm of social media, everything going…viral. The video shows the band members scrolling through their devices answering the same questions that every musician is facing right now, “When are you going to play again?”. Talking about how the world is deceptive sending people in the wrong direction but they have found the answer and it’s going viral which this track did and was very well received by fans.
A song that really didn’t settle right with me is the midway track, ‘Adrenaline’. I was expecting a fast and hard paced track – it’s ok but kind of reminded me of a heavy metal Britney Spears. Fellow swedes H.E.A.T had a track of the same name on their latest album and that truly didn’t let up whereas this track just seems to glide on by. I was looking forward to thrashing my head about and pumping my fist in the air, but instead, I waved and cricked my neck.
‘Strong’, featuring the outstanding Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast) has just been released with a music video and it’s enjoyable, but I was expecting a lot more vocally from two such vocal powerhouses and strong women, pioneering in the rock metal scene. Noora and Elize both shine on this track with the keys offsetting the beginning of the song and is enjoyable, I just wished I got a full-on vocal performance from them both.
Here comes the point of heartbreak with the next track ‘Crystalline’. A beautiful cello and violin lull you into this song, the softness and almost angelic aura of Elize’s powerful instrument exudes and she controls it effortlessly. Nils Molin’s clean vocal matches Elize’s power and control – he is a perfect match and the balance in this song is amazing. The soft beginning does then bring on the churn of guitars and thumping of drums, a rock ballad in its own way, giving me flickers of “Amaranthine” in my mind.
Continuing in the heavens, the Trinity has fallen, and ‘Archangel’ begins. The humble rumble of the church choir is shattered by Henrick Englund Wilhelmsson’s dirty vocal grit and growl with Nils carrying us in a hard-hitting chorus with the echoing undertones of electro keys.
Everything starts with a ‘BOOM!’ – easily my favourite track of this whole album and I love that Henrik has a full run on this track. He’s rapping, he’s growling, he is the soul of this track! I get horror movie soundtrack vibes. If you said to me that this track is on the new Resident Evil soundtrack, I would completely believe you. The slight techno key tones remind me of Marilyn’s Manson’s title track for the first Resident Evil film plus Elize’s growl is a little surprise. The breakdown is awesome (except from Elize’s little interruption just before it kicks in, I felt it un-necessary), the drums and crashes thunder through with Henrik spitting his grit laden lyrics left right and centre. A brilliant track!
I have found that each song has its outstanding moments but the running order doesn’t make for easy listening. It doesn’t quite flow for me. Olof says that this album is the “logical continuation of Helix (2018)” and that it is the “most mature and philosophical album we’ve made”. The writing, when you dive deeper into the meaning of the lyrics can be seen as very mature and observant of how the world is right now but they have done it in such a way that isn’t in your face and unless you are looking for them can actually go unnoticed. The arrangement of the songs on the album left me a little unsettled, it almost stops and starts like a dodgy clutch. No matter how many times I listened to the album from start to finish, I found it difficult to like how the album played, it didn’t quite flow right for me.
Overall, most of the tracks are great, the writing is brilliant, Olof, Johan Andreassen (bass) and Morten Løwe Sørensen (drums) have outdone themselves with the musical arrangement and both Nils and Elize have challenged themselves vocally even though I would have liked more from Nils. Olof Mörck (guitarist and songwriter) has said that this time around it was easier to write for him “This time around I knew exactly what we wanted him to sing and he brought a lot of his own suggestions; he’s a phenomenal singer”. I think the album is great, but I didn’t exactly want more. If we did scores in HRH Mag, I would give this 4 horns out of 5.
Manifest is out now via Nuclear Blast Records. Check out their videos on YouTube and listen to them on Hard Rock Hell Radio!