Amaranthe, that six-headed heavy-metal band from Sweden with the three singers, is back with their unique blend of electro-pop-metal. Or “anime-metal”, as some (probably just me) like to call them. The reason for this, is that most of their uplifitng songs sound like they could either be anime-intros (the faster ones), or anime-outros (the softer ones). When it comes to this band, there seems to be only extreme opinions and no neutral ones. People either like the catchiness and danceability of their songs, or they hate them for simply not being “trve” enough (we all know people like that). As I see myself as a sucker for catchy tunes, I would definitely say I’m pro-Amaranthe. Although I never was a huge fan of theirs.
As the last full album I listened to by them was Massive Addictive, and since I really disliked some of their latest single-releases (especially Boomerang), I was a little hesitant to write this review. All things considered though, I have to say this album really surprised me. The majority of the songs are great showcases of the prowess of their three singers. With catchy choruses, and some great and heavy riffs from Olof Mörck. Say what you will about this band, but even their haters have to admit, that Elize Ryd, Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson, and Nils Molin are absolute masters of their craft.
Starting the album extremely strong with the fast paced Fearless, the slow stomper Make It Better, and the mid-tempo Scream My Name. These songs have everything fans come to expect by the band. Strong choruses, big riffing, and some Amaranthe-typical synth-effects. Next up is the album’s first single Viral. A fine enough song to enjoy it, but I really wasn’t thrilled about the release when I first saw the music-video on Youtube. Fearless would probably have been a better single.
That brings me to my big problem with this band. It feels like the band has the same basket full of blueprints for every album. Their “fast songs”, their “mid-tempo stompers”, their “slower songs”, and of course their “obligatory ballads” sound all a little similar to each other. That’s not something inherently bad, and I’m sure few people get annoyed by this. It nonetheless annoys me a little. I still love listening to this stuff, but it makes it hard to objectively rate the album.
One of the more outstanding tracks is Strong. Elize Ryd gets support on the mic by Battle Beast’s Noora Louhimo. It’s a nice song about empowerment. Now to the most “anime-intro’ish” track of the album. Listening to The Game, I immediately get flashbacks of the anime-intros of the early 2000. Don’t misunderstand this, I love this song. Probably my favourite on this record. If there’s a new Yu-Gi-Oh series looking for a intro-song, they should definitely send this one in for consideration.
Crystalline is the albums aforementioned obligatory ballad. It’s nice, but a little unexciting. There is some nice string-work from Apocalyptica’s Perttu Kivilaakso on it though. Archangel again goes into up-tempo territory, before BOOM! gets a little into the nu-metal zone. At times it sounds a little like Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson channeled his inner Jonathan Davis for this track.
Ending the record is Do Or Die, which, on the special edition, will come in two versions: the regular one is lead by the male vocalists of the band, while the bonus- and video-version sees Elize Ryd’s clean vocals supported by none other than former Arch Enemy vocalist (and current Amaranthe-manager) Angela Gossow. Both versions feature a solo by Jeff Loomis. I really can’t decide which version I like better, as they’re both pretty dope. In any case, it’s a great record-closer.
Amaranthe don’t aim for new fans with this album. They aim to please the old ones. And I think the record will make an excellent job at that. Manifest is the band’s sixth longplayer, and their first album backed by German record label Nuclear Blast. It will be released on October 2nd 2020.
I like music. All of it. Except for schlager… And ballermann. Oh boy do I hate ballermann.