Amaranthe release their new album via Spinefarm Records on 19 October 2018. David Waterfield journeys from the mosh pit to the dancefloor.
There are some bands that you fall in love with from the moment you hear them: for me, Amaranthe are such a band. Their wholehearted embrace of modern metal and melodic pop polarises opinion and Helix, the group’s fifth album, is unlikely to change that. However, it is also an outstanding album; full of passion, energy, improbable genre-defying leaps and great songs.
If Maximalism separated the constituent elements of Amaranthe and pushed them to extremes, then Helix reconfigures those parts into a thrilling and cohesive hybrid of modern metal, pop, rock and electronica. Another shift in the band’s sound comes with the arrival of Nils Molin (Dynazty) following the departure of founder member and ‘clean’ vocalist Joacim ‘Jake E’ Lundberg. Nils is more of an out-and-out classic rock vocalist – and a shade deeper than Jake E – but he has the range to harmonise with Elize, the power to go toe to toe with Henrik and the presence to put his own stamp on this album. He brings a satisfying aggression and bite to the ‘clean’ vocals and any lingering doubts about the viability of this new Amaranthe line up can be safely checked at the door.
Lead single ‘365’ is an exciting fusion of cutting-edge metal and electronica, with descending verses coiled around a beguiling chorus, but there are many more dimensions to Helix waiting to be discovered: ‘Countdown’ is relentless, edgy pop metal; the soaring ‘Inferno’ and ‘Helix’ are Amaranthe anthems in waiting; ‘Iconic’ sees the Amaranthe engine room make the jump to hyperspace with fast, furious, barely restrained metal verses that crash into huge chorus; ‘Unified’ is a ballad of power and beauty with shades of Within Temptation while ‘Breakthrough Starshot’ is a kind of ‘Electroheart’ 2.0 – a rollicking boogie with a killer hook line on top of a dance beat…
And then there is ‘GG6’. This is an absolute monster of a track on which Henrik venomously spits out the verses over swirling electronic effects and a brutal, juddering nu-metal riff before it gives way to a tremendous chorus from Elize. It shouldn’t work. It defies conventional musical logic and it’s just brilliant. After playing Helix through for the first time I went back and played this track four times in a row! Fantastic.
The precise production accentuates, rather than manufactures, the power of Amaranthe’s rhythm section and a special mention must go Elize Ryd. Her vocals have matured with each successive release but on this album, she excels. With Helix Amaranthe strike the right balance between metal and melody and move their sound forward whilst playing to their strengths. It’s an album that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish and I anticipate that many Amaranthe fans will feel the same way.
- The Score
- Breakthrough Starshot
- My Haven