Amaranthe - s/t 3/5

Reviewed: 7-1-11





Tracklist:

1. Leave everything behind
2. Hunger
3. 1.000.000 lightyears
4. Automatic
5. My transition
6. Amaranthine
7. Rain
8. Call out my name
9. Enter the maze
10. Director’s cut
11. Act of desperation
12. Serendipity


Now here’s an interesting new band that has just sprouted up in Europe, Denmark and Sweden to be precise, whose music has straight away caught the ear of metalheads from their recent demos and singles. The band is Amaranthe and their full-length debut CD is self-titled and was released in mid-April of 2011. There are a few recognisable heads within the band, including Nightrage and Dragonland guitarist Olof Mörck and Dreamland vocalist Jake E. Berg. Joining Jake and Olof is harsh vocalist Andreas Solveström from Swedish melodic death metal band Within Y, female vocalist Elize Ryd, drummer Morten Løwe Sørensen and bassist Johan Andreassen.

Amaranthe play a variety of metal genres that can simply be generalised as slick gothic pop melodic death metal. While not completely melodic death metal, they are also not completely gothic pop metal either. Despite female vocalist Elize Ryd being an attractive and talented singer, she does sound and look at times like a mainstream pop diva, rather than a gothic metal queen such as Tarja Turunen, Anette Olzon and Liv Kristine. The 3 singers together I feel works quite well, adding some diversity to a CD with limited depth, but also raw emotion and passion into the powerful but heavily synthed sound.

There are some inconsistencies throughout the CD of the quality of some tracks; where some are quite ferocious and bombastic, with some crushing guitar riffs and an onslaught of double-bass pummelling, while some are just too radio friendly with its catchy popish elements. Basically it comes down to the vocals of both Jake E Berg and Ryd and an overuse of keyboards as to why these particular tracks are not as solid and fulfilling as the more powerful ones. That also makes it difficult to completely enjoy and get into and ultimately begs the question – how long before the listeners and fans urge for something with more substance, consistency and real heavy metal.

This CD is great to listen to in short bursts, but in the end it can get quite repetitive, with almost every track clocking in at just a touch over 3 minutes (longest track on the CD is 4:47). While the song structures on the CD can be effective for a few tracks that go for around 3 minutes, in other tracks they fall short as it feels as though they have been rushed and crammed together. In this day and age, a full-length metal release of 12 tracks (with no intro’s or interludes), should be around 55-65 minutes long; but here it’s all done and dusted after just 42 minutes. That’s just way too short in my book.

The CD starts like a shot from a gun, with the opening track “Leave everything behind”. More of a glimpse of what’s to come, the track contains both brutal melodic death and groove metal riffs, fiery screams and growls from Andreas Solveström but also popish segments during the chorus with vocals from Ryd and Jake. “1.000.000 lightyears” is a bit softer than the previous track mentioned, with more of a pop gothic/melodic metal influence, but still wrapped up in harsh vocals and colourful over-saturated synths. “Automatic” can be quite cringe worthy, particularly to any hardened melodic death metal fans, as it is flooded with popish elements and radio friendliness; but most likely a great song to push towards a friend who’s trying to get into heavy metal and is not afraid of a few harsh screams here and there.

“My transition” is a better well-rounded track, full of power and catchiness and just the right levels of melodic death metal speed and aggression, combined with the synth gothic pop during the chorus. However, the best track on the release (in my opinion) just has to be “Hunger”, as it is very catchy, very memorable and has some great kick-ass hooks and riffs. The vocal combination and pop element is also at the most consistent and satisfactory level. Both “Enter the maze”, “Act of desperation” and “Rain” are all impressive tracks that are worth mentioning here. Much like “Hunger”, these 3 songs are quite catchy, aggressive and energetic; with just the right combination of gothic synth pop to keep pretty much everyone happy.

While Amaranthe’s self-titled debut is not bad in any sense, there are a few flaws and faults that needed to be ironed out before the next release. With the melodic death metal and pop gothic metal genres fusing together, sometimes it feels during tracks that both genres were wanting to take center stage and both pulling away from one another. It’s more an issue with the songwriting, but overall not really a major mishap or anything really stoping you from picking up this CD. Even though both melodic death metal and gothic rock/pop fans should equally find something of value here, both probably won’t be totally satisfied overall. So, if you like some glitz and glamour with your melodic death metal, then Amaranthe is the band for you. If not, then it’s probably best that you leave this one alone.



SEAN




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