Album Review: Amaranthe - Manifest

Combing melodic metal and synths and aggression, Amaranthe are the band I wanted to create.

The traditionalists, the old-school, are not fans. Taking traditional metal elements and mixing them with a truck-load of synths, it's difficult to categorise the band. Trance-metal? Dance-metal? Synth-metal? Whatever, it doesn't matter. They blend the electronic elements perfectly and have done for a number of years now.

It's important to note that they're, of course, not the only band to do this. Mick Gordon does it all the time on the DOOM soundtracks, and American project Celldweller is also known for it. But Amaranthe do it their own way, and it's just magnificent.

Manifest is their latest effort and it's up there with their very best. Heavy, melodic and aggressive all at once, not a single song lets the side down. It's a real pleasure to listen this album; it's epic and unbelievably fun. Opener 'Fearless' sets the tone, and it never lets up from there onwards. 'Scream My Name' is the first absolute highlight of the record, as it its follow-up 'Viral', both offering up slices of near-perfect modern metal in a way that only Scandinavian bands seem to be able to do.

The fun is just relentless. 'Adrenaline' is a song that certainly makes that very thing pump through you, and 'Strong' continues the trend. There's not much detail in this review about the songs themselves, but all you need to know is that they'll make you feel on top of the world. Power-Metal is certainly a way of categorizing this band; I'm starting to wonder if Aston Villa listened this record in their dressing room before playing Liverpool last night, because that's how it makes you feel.

There is also a moment which I simply found funny, and I'm not too sure if it was intentional or not. Halfway through 'Boom!', the heaviest track on the record, everything stops and singer Elize Ryd says "Oh wow, that's so cool, gg" and then asks "What else goes boom?". This is answered by harsh vocalist Henrik Englund Wilhemsson, who screams "THE BREAKDOWN GOES BOOOOOOOM" and as the breakdown cut in, I found myself in absolute stitches. I can't tell whether this moment is a stroke of brilliance or absolutely Godawful, but my word it is funny.

Unlike IDLES last week, this album does also offer some variety. 'Crystalline', just over halfway through, slows things right down, opening with strings and remaining incredibly relaxed throughout. It's a beautiful change of pace and just allows the listener to relax for a few minutes, to slow the heart rate down a little, before 'Archangel' turns everything up to eleven (drink) again. In fact, 'Archangel' is one of the best on the album, and was deservedly released as a single.

The first single, 'Do or Die', was released way back in February, so this album has been a long time coming. Fortunately, it is more than worth the wait. Relentlessly tearing your ears off for 90% of it, but knowing to slow down when necessary, it just makes you feel so big and powerful. It makes you want to take on a physical manifestation of 2020 single-handedly. Elitists will hear one single synth and immediately hate this, but those with a more open mind are in for a treat.

We've reviewed three bonafide metal albums this year, along with those of Burning Witches and Napalm Death, and all three have been f***ing excellent. Well, it is 2020. No surprise, then, that the genre most often associated with Satanism is excelling in this near-apocalyptic year. Amaranthe are the latest to deliver, and deliver they have.



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