Label: Spinefarm Records
Release Date: March 26, 2013
In an era where bands continue to try to find the next level of metal extremity, Sweden’s Amaranthe went another direction. They took the foundation of melodic death metal and infused it with power metal, pop hooks, and a three vocal attack. Call it electro-metal. It gives the band a look and a sound all its own. That means metal elitists are going to beat themselves black and blue trying to tell you how bad this is for the genre even though the songs are catchy and memorable.
Amaranthe have been hailed as a metal version of Abba, which is not at all an unfair argument. So what’s wrong with that? I happen to love Abba. Oh that’s right, metal is only valid if it’s hated by the masses. The truth is they are a more homogenized version of Nightwish, without the intriguing lyrical tableaus.
Our friend in metal, AngryMetalGuy called the album “sterile”, and on some level I cannot disagree with that assessment. There is nothing here that elevates the music (the weak lyrical content comes to mind), but by the same token it still feels good, still sounds good, and at the end of the day, if it moves you for a moment or a millennium has it not achieved its goal?
If you like hook laden, electronica infused, harmony soaked hard rock and roll with pop sensibility you’re bound to appreciate this album. If you’re looking for depth, or can only appreciate metal with intellectual messages or indecipherable growling, this won’t be for you. Personally, I’m a believer in enjoying what is there rather than what is not. I’m sure others will offer anything I feel I’m missing.
On “The Nexus“, Amaranthe, led most notably by the voice of female vocalist Elize Ryd, continue the sonic journey begun on the band’s 2011 eponymous debut. With that record they set the stage, anchoring the album with four solid singles. The release of “The Nexus” looks to continue that trend. It’s packed with a dozen tracks of highly addictive ear candy. Fans of their debut will love that “The Nexus” is not a progression but rather a continuation of the first album. That may in part be why it is perceived by some as sterile or cookie cutter.
Every track on “The Nexus” is filled with wonderful performances by guitarist/keyboardist Olof Mörck (Dragonland, Nightrage), drummer Morten Løwe Sørensen (The Cleansing, Koldborn, Mercenary), bassist Johan Andreassen (Engel), clean vocalists Ryd, and Jake E (Dreamland, Dream Evil), and harsh vocalist Andreas Solveström. The production, handled by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat) is top-notch.
Amaranthe, more so than most bands, finds itself on that precarious love ’em or hate ’em cliff, which is too bad. This is a talented group. They could perhaps grow with some stronger lyrical themes, and a bit more edge, but overall it’s a pleasure to listen to; guilty or mindless, pleasure is pleasure.
Lest anyone leave here feeling I’m being ambiguous– I do enjoy this album for what is, not what people think it should be. The band is creating its own sound and that’s a good thing. There is room for growth and they (the ubiquitous they) say that a band really finds its signature with the third record…I think they will improve with another couple of years of touring and as they further define who Amaranthe really is.