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AMARANTHE: The Catalyst

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Nuclear Blast Records

Out Now

Amaranthe had me excited until I realised that I had them confused with that guitar-shredding vixen Orianthe. Now that I’ve realised that though, they have the benefit of me starting this review without any bias because when it comes down to it, I know fuck all about this Swedish 6-piece melodic metal, electronic rock, razor-sharp pop act. What does that even mean, razor-sharp pop? I guess I’m about to find out.

And so far, while thinking about and actually writing that intro, 3 tracks have managed to pass by. They were The Catalyst, Insatiable and Damnation Flame, and to be honest it hasn’t sounded too bad so far. It’s this strange mix of synths, shredding guitars, solid rhythmic drums, clean male vocals, clean female vocals as well as the odd scream here and there. It’s got a bit for everyone in each song, which on average struggles to make 3-minutes in duration.

And while I wrote that last paragraph, another track called Liberated passed me by, and it was much like its predecessors. I can hear the “pop” reference as there are constant sing-along choruses popping through each track, and even though the background music is mostly heavy as fuck, it really does have some pop sensibility to it.

Now, I’m not saying pop as in three chords and a standard four-by-four drum beat to back it up like AC/DC. These tunes are way more complex than that, and Re-Vision lets us know this with some impressive guitar work weaving in and out of the track. And then Interference drops in with some kind of dub-step-style techno intro before busting into a series of syncopated guitar chugs. The overall sound of the album so far is almost very theatrical, and you can’t really pick where it is going to go next.

Oh no, is this the dreaded ballad? It seems that way as Stay a Little While commences with piano and some very pretty clean female vocals from Elize Ryde. Yeah, it’s got that Evanescence vibe to it, which admittedly I don’t hate. As Nils Molin joins in with the male vocals sounding almost as pretty as the female ones, I’m convinced that this is indeed a ballad. Some heavy guitar chords kick in over the chorus followed by a melodic guitar lead.

Ecstasy takes us straight back to the heavier side of the band, and we hear of a lot of heavy vocals from the band’s newest member, Mikael Sehlin. It seems like this band has 3 vocalists, and I’m not sure if they each also take on other duties in the band, so I’ll let you research that yourself. There are 6 of them though and there are guitars, bass, drums, synths, and keyboards, so I’m guessing at least one or two of them stroke an instrument here or there.

Breaking The Waves doesn’t really break any new waves, it kinda just rides in behind the ones before it. And like every other track before it, well except for that ballad, there is just so much going on that it’s hard to describe it all before the track ends just after 3-minutes.

Let me just say, it has a big chorus, much like all the other tracks on this album. Melodic, Symphonic, Electronic and a little Demonic pretty well describes the sound of Amaranthe and the next three tracks Outer Dimensions, Resistance and Find Life all display these elements in their full glory. It actually amazes me how the band has been able to blend so much without it becoming too much. I’d usually steer away from anything with this much keyboard, synth and electronica in it, but the band seems to utilise it to its maximum without it ever really becoming too much. Well, Find Life might be pushing it a little far in its early musings and that’s maybe why it’s been left as the last track.

When I said the “last track”, what I meant was their last track because there is another track. It’s called Fading Like a Flower, and it may be a Roxette cover. Ok, it’s definitely a Roxette cover and is an interesting take on it. Is it necessary? Probably not! It is fun, though, and if a band can’t have a bit of fun these days, then what is this point?

Like I said earlier, I usually stay away from something like this with so much synth, keys and electronica through it, but I might have to admit that I actually enjoyed it. I said I might, right!

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