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Amaranthe - Manifest review


108 users:
Band: Amaranthe
Album: Manifest
Release date: October 2020

01. Fearless
02. Make It Better
03. Scream My Name
04. Viral
05. Adrenaline
06. Strong [feat. Noora Louhimo]
07. The Game
08. Crystalline [feat. Perttu Kivilaakso & Elias Holmlid]
09. Archangel
10. Boom! [feat. Heidi Shepherd]
11. Die And Wake Up
12. Do Or Die [feat. Jeff Loomis]
13. 82nd All The Way [Sabaton cover] [digibook bonus]
14. Do Or Die [feat. Angela Gossow and Jeff Loomis] [digibook bonus]
15. Adrenalina [acoustic version] [digibook bonus]
16. Crystalline [orchestral version] [digibook bonus]

At this point, Amaranthe have been around long enough for most users on this or any metal site to have had the opportunity to encounter them and develop one of what I imagine are the only two possible opinions to have about them; I'm not sure this review will particularly satisfy either group.

It's not difficult to understand why Amaranthe manage to inspire the ire they do in a lot of metal fans; for a fanbase with such a focus on trve-ness, a band as relentlessly and unashamedly poppy, polished and commercially oriented as the Swedish sextet is anathema (no, not the British band). They are perhaps the ultimate "guilty pleasure" metal band, even more so than something like Babymetal, but guilty pleasures are still pleasures, and, along with a number of others, I've found myself more than capable of enjoying some of the group's previous work; The Nexus and Massive Addictive have received a frankly bewildering amount of playtime from me in the half-decade or so since they were released, not least because there's no one else I've found that's so committed to this type of sound, so they have very little competition.

As such, I approach every new Amaranthe release with the hope of getting the same sugar rush that those albums provide; however, something as surface-level as Amaranthe lives or dies on how infectiously addictive the tracks are, and whilst most of the songs on the two aforementioned albums were oppressively catchy, those on Maximalism simply failed to deliver, making it a completely redundant experience, with Helix not doing all that much better. I can't say that I was optimistic that Manifest would be the album to make the next breakthrough, but I still approached it with hope that I would be overwhelmed by an onslaught of calculated earworms burying themselves deep in my brain; truth be told, it's definitely a step up from something like Maximalism, and if you're already on board with the band, I imagine you'll probably like Manifest, but I don't see myself taking more than a couple of songs from it with me once I've finished this review.

The record starts of promisingly; "Fearless" offers the focus group-engineered combination of hyperenergetic electronics and riffs, frantic vocal trade-offs between Elize Ryd (who once again carries the record), Nils Molin and Henrik Wilhelmsson (the current clean and screamed male vocalists, respectively), and instantly memorable chorus that makes Amaranthe so appealing to those able to stomach the cheese. One of their strongest songs since Massive Addictive, "Fearless" ensures Manifest lands a powerful first blow; however, it's also easily the strongest song here in my opinion, and one of only a few that I wouldn't be surprised to see myself returning to. "Make It Better" is a slower cut, which I never feel plays into the band's strengths, but it's passable, albeit carried by the chorus. With stronger choruses are "Viral" and "Do Or Die", whilst the sheer energy of "Scream My Name" saves it when it makes a couple of questionable turns.

The formula for an Amaranthe album is rigidly established by now; twelve songs, almost all of which fall between 3 and 4 minutes, meaning that if one song doesn't hit the right spot, it's not a long wait until something potentially more appealing comes along. This absolutely remains the case on Manifest, with almost every song clocking under 3:30, meaning that the misses ("Strong", "Archangel") don't last too long, with one bizarrely glaring exception. The name of the song "BOOM!1" wasn't the most inspiring, but I was in no way prepared for what was in store. Rapping using harsh vocals isn't unheard of, and nor is it an automatic disaster (20 years on, "Spit It Out" is still my favourite song Slipknot have put out), but it really does not work at all here, with Wilhelmsson's "tick-tock-tick-tock-BOOM" ruining any promise that the hip-hop/cyber-metal combo accompanying it and subsequent djent chugs had of working. That by itself would've made this an unappealing track (and the tedious chorus is similarly unenjoyable), but the little quip of "let me try this" from I believe Elize Ryd before the second verse (sadly, Elize does not grace us with her attempt at rapping, a crying shame) acts as foreshadowing for an infinitely more cringy exchange before a breakdown later on, turning what was merely a write-off of a song into a straight-up trainwreck. All of this is bad enough, but at 4 minutes and 13 seconds, "BOOM!1" is the second-longest song the band has ever put out, and you can feel every single one of those 253 seconds when listening.

The disaster that is "BOOM!1" aside, Manifest is an adequate effort from Amaranthe that sees them dabble with bringing in other elements from both metal and contemporary pop with varying success, and if you liked Helix, I don't see any reason why you won't find at least a few songs to like here. If you've previously found this band to be intolerable, any attempt to try this album would be a complete waste of time on your part. For me, I will remember Manifest more fondly than the pair of albums that preceded it, but I doubt that it will be keeping The Nexus and Massive Addictive company in my digital library in the future.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Written on 30.09.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 7   Visited by: 152 users
01.10.2020 - 02:41

New genre: Twerk metal.
01.10.2020 - 04:35
Rating: 7
SoUnDs LiKe PoP

Yikes, if "Viral" and "Do Or Die" are two of the strongest choruses, I'm afraid this album won't do much for me.

"The Nexus" and "Massive Addictve" were phenomenal albums where virtually every song was great... and, unpopular opinion, but I even really enjoyed most of "Maximalism." "Helix" was mostly forgettable, though, and I'm beginning to fear that this new album may follow suit...
I lift weights and listen to metal
01.10.2020 - 04:59
Troy Killjoy
Written by nikarg on 01.10.2020 at 02:41

New genre: Twerk metal.

That just sounds like trancecore with extra steps.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
02.10.2020 - 13:24
omne metallum

P.O.D. can rest easy in the knowledge that someone has a worse song with the title "Boom" now.
Just because I'm not listening doesn't mean I don't care
02.10.2020 - 19:30
Damn, it's been 7 years since I last cared about these guys
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
06.10.2020 - 08:55
Rating: 7

Written by Troy Killjoy on 01.10.2020 at 04:59

Written by nikarg on 01.10.2020 at 02:41

New genre: Twerk metal.

That just sounds like trancecore with extra steps.

It has a breakdown, does that make it Twerkcore?
"We are blind to the world within us, waiting to be born"
08.01.2021 - 06:18
Rating: 10

I think the review slept on Crystalline personally. I absolutely loved that song, my favorite on the album. Strong is really good too.

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