Review: Amaranthe – ‘Manifest’

For their sixth studio album, Gothenburg metallers Amaranthe make the jump from Spinefarm Records to Nuclear Blast Records, with the result; ‘Manifest’, being a masterclass in hook-laden bombast.

One of the last bands to tour before the whole world turned to shit, Amaranthe must have been walking on air after their well-received opening slot on the insanely popular arena tour from fellow Swedes Sabaton. A new record label, plaudits ringing in their ears, studio time booked, co-headlining tour with Beyond The Black looking like a real hot ticket; well, no need to mention what happened next is there? Getting to Jacob Hansen’s Hansen Studios in Denmark just as full lockdown loomed and borders began to close, the sextet set about the business of recording what is for them perhaps their most important album to date. And they knocked it out of the park.

With enough genre crossovers to make the average metal fan’s head explode, ‘Manifest’ is Amaranthe at their heaviest. The Euro-EDM blasts and heavy synths are as larger-than-life as ever, as is the three-pronged vocal attack made-up of Elize Ryd and Nils Molin with clean vocals, and Henrik Englund Wilhemsson (a.k.a ‘GG6’) on growls and screams (check out GG6 unleashing hell on ‘Boom!’ – sweet baby Jesus it is huge! And, stick around for a guest appearance from Butcher Baby Heidi Shepherd).

Beginning with the thumping call-to-arms that is ‘Fearless’, ‘Manifest’ is the album that captures the insane energy of an Amaranthe live show. A band that can grab 15,000 power metal fans by the scruff of the neck and shows them a good time while converting the most cynical of cynics. With its huge vocal hooks ‘Make It Better’ could be ideal Eurovision fodder (well, if it’s good enough for GWAR…), and imagine the look on Graham Norton’s face when GG6 brings the guttural growls to the party. ‘Viral’? Total banger. Morten Løwe Sørensen on the drums totally owns the track, and in a band with such strong characters (not only the three individual vocalists but also blonde bombshell Olof Mörck on guitars and keyboards), it’s a thrill when the man at the back steals the show. Although, Mörck does steal it back with his all-too fleeting guitar licks on the ultra-catchy ‘Adrenaline’.

As you would expect from a band with three vocalists, the vocals on ‘Manifest’ are humongous. Elize Ryd grows in stature with each outing, be it the day job with Amaranthe, or moonlighting with Kamelot. It seems unfair calling her a rising star as she has been knocking them dead for some time now, but with ‘Manifest’ it would seem that Elize has arrived. Listen to her duet with Battle Beast’s Noora Louhimo on ‘Strong’, or the colossus ‘Crystalline’ where the duet between Ryd and Nils Molin (check out his other band Dynazty – lush) is cinematic magic, and you’ll be singing her praises to anyone who will listen. The three different vocal styles blend seamlessly from start-to-finish on ‘Manifest’, but ‘Archangel’ is the stand-out moment. GG6’s growls, Ryd’s powerhouse performance, and Molin’s uber-clean vocals; all combining to prove that three is indeed the magic number.

It’s not a quiet album that’s for sure, when the incredible engine room team of Morten Løwe Sørensen on drums and bassist Johan Andreassen lock into a pounding groove, the walls start shaking and the neighbours give up and wave the white flag. The bouncing EDM enhances the sound and gives it an edge, unlike when Bullet For My Valentine, Papa Roach, or even Within Temptation, opted to insert more of an electronic element into their respective recent albums, and because they didn’t go all-in, the end results seemed quite hesitant, or in the case of BFMV; contrived.

Available now on Nuclear Blast Records.

Review – Dave

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