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  AMARANTHE
'Amaranthe'
(Spinefarm/Universal)
Out Now


Jeff Kent

jeff kent

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If you're into brooding doom, gloom and crushingly heavy satanic Metal then this isn't for you. If you're into energetic, melodic and fun Metal with an aggressive edge then please continue. Amaranthe is something of a side project that took on a life of its own. It includes members of Nightrage, Dream Evil, Dragonlord, Dreamland, Within Y and a touring member of Kamelot in female vocalist Elize Ryd.

amaranthecover

In the first forty-five seconds of 'Leave Everything Behind' you'll hear not one, not two but three lead vocalists. You've got your 'aggressive Metal core' guy, your traditional Metal tenor and the powerfully angelic female voice of Elize.

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On the surface, it would appear that Amaranthe is a Nightwish clone, or maybe you think they will sound like Epica or Within Temptation. Not so. While not entirely original, they do carve out a niche apart from those bands. They come closer to a Lacuna Coil sound, but even that comparison falls short because there's just way more energy here. In an age of hyphenated sub-genres, I guess you'd have to call them melodic death/power Metal...or maybe power core.

I can't remember where I first heard Amaranthe but I, too, was guilty of the above prejudices. It didn't take long to forget all that and settle in to enjoy. Like I said in the beginning, this music is a blast. It's the kind of stuff you'd hear as background music for an extreme sports or racing video montage. 'Hunger', with its chorus of 'higher faster I am the fuel to set you free' would be perfect. It's almost unrelenting and it brings me back to a time when Metal was fun.

Unlike other bands that rely on symphonic strings or spoken word passages to create drama, Amaranthe needs none of that. The three distinct vocalists keep things interesting, and if you don't like one of them you know that the other two are waiting in the wings to tackle the next line. There is a bit of a Broadway element included when you have this many different voices, but it works. All three of them sing on each song - even the one ballad, 'Amaranthine.'

The keyboards offer more rhythm than atmosphere, and on a couple of tracks, 'Call Out My Name' and 'Automatic', they almost border on techno. But when the guitars come on, the keyboards take up their backing role and act to propel the songs at breakneck speed.

Have I mentioned Elize yet? I'm not afraid to admit that it may have been her beauty that prompted me to check out the band in the first place, but it was her voice that had me listening over and over. There's something hypnotic about it. She handles all the melodies with ease, and sings with a power that's infectious. She's not just another pretty voice that 'oohs' and 'aahs' for effect. Now she's no Angela Gossow either, but she more than holds her own with the men. If the guys in Kamelot chose her to be in their touring band for the last few years you know she's good.

The aforementioned 'Amaranthine' is really the only ballad on the whole record and it falls right in the middle. Everything else is uptempo and, well, bouncy. You heard me. If this album doesn't get your blood pumping then you should probably go see a doctor. I think one of the best things about this record is that there's no fat, no filler, just one fast catchy melodic song after another. Even the guitar solos are short and to the point, with no technical wanking - it just wouldn't fit here. In fact, almost every song comes in at less than four minutes.

Now I know there might be some scorn from all of your death Metal friends, but don't worry about them. Play it in your car if you have to, this is great driving music. It almost makes me wish my drive to work was longer...almost.

12.12.11



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