Amaranthe – Manifest
Released: October 2nd, 2020
Elize Ryd | vocals
Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson | vocals
Nils Molin | vocals
Olof Mörck | guitars & keys
Johan Andreassen | bass
Morten Løwe Sørensen | drums
It’s fair to say I have a love/hate relationship with Amaranthe. Back in 2016 I gave a very honest, but unflattering review of the band’s fourth release Maximalism (here) So I was surprised to find their latest offering Manifest appear on my desk for review. It’s the understatement of all understatements 2020 has been a year unlike any other in recent history. Bands and artists have found new ways to be creative, and to be perfectly honest in the midst of all the insanity there’s been some amazing music released this year. So I was keen to hear what the Swedish sextet had in-store.
Amaranthe have always done things their own way with varying degrees of success. But as they say in the classics, “nothing ventured nothing gained” and you have to admire any band who attempt to break the mold. At first glance Manifest looks and sounds similar to their previous releases, but this time they’ve added something extra. There’s an extra metallic ingredient in the mix this time around. The genre cross over approach to the music has always been the greatest strength and weakness of the band, when it goes wrong you get smart arses like me calling it out. But when they get it right the results can be exceptional.
With the first single released ‘Strong’, the band play it pretty safe. It’s a straight up rock song, hooky as fuck. Vocally Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson and Nils Molin are given the night off as Elize Ryd teams up with Noora Louhimo of Finnish band Battle Beast. Both ladies use their impressive vocal abilities in this song, but pull back from going full power metal mode and the restraint is refreshing fitting perfectly. The next single dropped way back in June is more of what we’ve come to expect from the Gothenburg natives. ‘Viral’ is one of those songs that doesn’t blow you away right off the bat. With subsequent listens it’s hard not to get caught up in the pop hooks and rock grooves. Viral can mean different things these days and although the song is clearly about social media it’s hard not to tie it in with the current state of the world.
The third single ‘Archangel’ is actually a better indication of the album’s direction as a whole. Wilhelmsson’s unclean vocals kick things off, with Olof Mörck’s heavy crunching guitar sound complementing perfectly. The rhythm section of bassist Johan Andreassen and Morten Løwe Sørensen on the drums combine to deliver a heavy groove. That heaviness is peppered throughout the album, there are still the trademark pop and melodic elements but Manifest above all other releases has some of the heaviest music the band has ever released. In fact the tenth track ‘BOOM!1′ crosses over into full metalcore mode complete with riff laden breakdown. I’m going to go so far as to say everything I thought the band got wrong on Maximalism they got right on this album. There’s enough 80’s tinged traditional metal combined with modern metal and catchy anthemic choruses to appeal to heavy and non-heavy music fans alike.
If the tone-deaf dirge merchants who program commercial FM radio had any taste at all Amaranthe would have any number of the album’s 12 tracks on high rotation.
Amaranthe – Manifest tracklisting:
2. Make It Better
3. Scream My Name
7. The Game
11. Die And Wake Up
12. Do Or Die