(Nuclear Blast Records)
In the midst of my woefully-misspent, Glam and Hair Metal-fueled youth, I often found myself in search of a variations of the standard issue Hard Rock and Heavy Metal formula that also appealed to my unabashed Pop sensibilities. Although many of the most obvious Headbanger's Ball and Rip magazine-fueled offerings piquéd my interest (initially, at least), I often found myself less than satisfied, particularly with the overall emphasis on the 'hairspray and mascara-encrusted' excesses of the era. Unfortunately, the onset of the Grunge phenomenon, while not entirely unexpected, would only further inhibit my pursuits as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden offered little opportunity for the level of enlightenment I was hoping to achieve. Now, twenty-five improbably long years later, with my oft-exhaustive search for the ultimate 'double threat' continuing largely unabated, I find myself in the throes of a disturbingly-intense love affair with Gothenburg, Sweden-based sextet Amaranthe.
On the brilliant Manifest (2020), an expertly assembled sixteen song collection of Melodic Death Metal and Pop-infused Metalcore, each track, beginning with the relentlessly pummeling “Fearless” and the thunderous-- albeit delightfully hook-laden--“Scream My Name”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Effortlessly delivering a seamless, multi-dimensional barrage of soaring, multi-octave vocals, blistering fretwork and Electronica-fueled rhythms, the group fires on all cylinders early and often without, believe it or not, overwhelming their target demographic. Wisely attempting to capitalize on the momentum initiated via the equally ingenious Helix (2018) and their oft-underrated breakthrough Massive Additive (2014), the group submerges everyone amid a seductive and all-consuming auditory 'realm' that brazenly showcases their significant lyrical and compositional strengths.
Continuing with the radio-ready arena anthem “Adrenaline” and the blistering, quasi-majestic “The Game”, the unnervingly airtight--to say the very least--combination of lead vocalists (!) Elize Ryd, Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson and Nils Molin, guitarist/keyboardist Olof Mörck (Disarmonia Mundi, Dragonland, Nightrage), bassist Johan Andreassen and drummer Morten Løwe Sørense (ex-Avalanche, Mercenary, ex-Slugs) steamrolls ahead with the well-rehearsed ease that has thus far personified their career. Deftly delivering the previously-discussed blend of Death Metal, Metalcore and melodic Pop music, the group drives home each key focal point without burying the average listener amid an avalanche of virtuosic idiocies favored by their contemporaries. Although far from groundbreaking and certainly not revolutionary, the earliest of their genre-defying histrionics resonate with a true sense of individualism that distinguishes the group as a bona fide force to be reckoned with.
Produced, Engineered, Mixed and Mastered by acclaimed Pyramaze axemaster Jacob Hansen (Anubis Gate, Kamelot, Volbeat), other standouts, including the fist-pumping, mosh-inducing jewel “Die And Wake Up” and the equally impressive, Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, ex-Nevermore, Sanctuary)-fueled closer “Do Or Die (Album Version)”, find the group reaching at last reaching their full potential. An absolute must-have for any Metalhead with a genuine and sincere interest in broadening their musical horizons, only time will tell if the group will at last succeed in ascending to the dizzying heights of international acclaim. Fortified throughout by a cover of the Sabaton classic “82nd All The Way”, a 'video' version of “Do Or Die” (which adds the talents of ex-Arch Enemy frontwoman Angela Gossow) and acoustic versions of “Adrenaline” and “Crystalline”, the end results, as you've likely already deduced, of their more than considerable efforts ultimately leave all listeners thoroughly satisfied.
But is it really that good? Absolutely! With the majority--if not all--of the decidedly tuneful wares contained herein further showcasing their already well-documented lyrical and compositional prowess, the end result(s) of the group's more than considerable efforts make the often mighty Manifest a genuine and sincere must-have for both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike. While one might effectively argue (and I, for the most part would wholeheartedly agree) that the group's truly unique auditory amalgamation is an acquired taste, they ultimately succeed by doing what they've always done best: repeatedly 'delivering' the proverbial 'goods' with a near-lethal precision. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a fist-pumping yet less-than-obvious reprieve from the mindless din and clatters that I have spent the past two decades warning you of, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane salve for what ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Breaking Point - B-Sides 2011-2015 (2015)
Massive Additive (2014)
The Nexus (2013)
Leaving Everything Behind (EP) (2009)
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