It almost feels like an eternity ago that my good friend Sophie (she has a literature blog in German, do check it out here) introduced me to this now very influential band back in 2013. At that time, Amaranthe had just released their second full-length record “The Nexus”.
For anyone who has been living under a rock for the last five years: Amaranthe have not only one, not two, but three vocalists. The center of attention is trained pop/rock singer, dancer and songwriter Elize Ryd, a woman who sings as stunningly as she looks on the outside. Plus she is a great hugger, and I have had a girl crush on her since 2013. Growler Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson has joined the band after the release of “The Nexus” to replace former screamer Andreas Solveström. He gives Amaranthe the right edge and heaviness. Last but not least, Amaranthe’s newest weapon is called Nils Molin, a vocalist with loads of potential, great hair and even greater energy.
Their concept of combining electro and pop music with power and death metal wasn’t received well by everyone in the beginning. In fact, I even felt a little guilty for liking Amaranthe so much. As of now, Amaranthe are touring extensively and are stronger than ever. Many people who were first skeptical of their music and concept are fully on board now and probably dancing to “Electroheart”, singing their hearts out to “Amaranthine” and “Burn With Me” or headbanging to “Fury” every so often (or am I the only one?).
Amaranthe’s newest record “Helix” feels fresh and exciting as much as it feels familiar. Many songs have an old-school vibe to them while coming in bolder than Amaranthe’s first compositions. In contrast, some tracks sound entirely differently from anything the band has ever done before.
What makes “Helix” stand out, though, is the fact that it evolves with every listen, similarly to the previous album “Maximalism”. I feel like with the first three Amaranthe records, you either loved them right away or not at all. Then came “That Song”, a song that divided many fans (and non-fans). I personally started liking the single only after many listens, and I’m having a similar experience with “Helix” – it didn’t sound very exciting in the beginning, but I learned to love nearly every song on this record.
This new album also made me realize something about Amaranthe’s music in general. Only after listening closely to “Helix” did I realize that the electronic elements in Amaranthe’s initial recordings where basically played on top of a solid power/melodic death metal sound and NOT the other way around, as it may have seemed. This is why I believe it is fair to say that Amaranthe really were a power/death metal band in the beginning more than anything else. On “Helix”, the electronic and “pop” parts if you will stand very much on their own and aren’t always embedded in “classic” metal.
The title track “Helix”, the opener “The Score”, “Dream” as well as the singles and the last track “Momentum” are all energetic, dramatic and catchy songs. This album really gives me a hard time picking favorites! Some tracks, though, do fall a little flat – “My Haven” and “Breakthrough Starshot” have their strong suits, but fail to impress in general.
To conclude, a gradual style shift is definitely observable, which has started with “Maximalism” and continues on this record. Amaranthe therefore don’t necessarily sound different, but have changed the composition and structure of their music while maintaining their song quality during the last years. Paired with Mörck’s and Ryd’s gift of creating a nearly infinite amount of catchy songs, this might just be Amaranthe’s recipe for success for the years (or who knows – decades) to come. Amaranthe have become a force to be reckoned with, and they now and for all have proved themselves as more than worthy members of the metal scene with “Helix”.
Release date: October 19, 2018
Rating: outstanding (4)
Elize Ryd – vocals
Nils Molin – vocals
Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson – grunts
Olof Mörck – guitars, keyboards
Johan Andreassen – bass
Morten Løwe Sørensen – drums
01. The Score
08. Breakthrough Starshot
09. My Haven