Amaranthe have just released their fifth album – Helix. When they first started it was a definite shock to many – a band daring to combine death metal with pop – think of it as Arch Enemy meets Abba. It’s an unlikely formula but as they’ve proved consistently over the past few years, it’s one that they make work extremely well.
With Helix they’ve stuck to their winning formula. Where most bands have one vocalist or maybe two, Amaranthe have three – clean male vocals, clean female vocals and male growls/screams. That’s not one main signer and two backing singers – all three do lead vocals. That does mean that they have more variety in the vocals than is normal and that really is important with their music.
The guitar parts are nice and heavy and when combined with the screaming/growling vocals the death metal element is clear to hear – the opening of “GG6” is a good example of the heavier side of Amaranthe. When Elize Ryd joins in with her clean vocals and we get a bit of keyboard too then the song changes slightly – it’s still heavy but it takes off the raw edge. In contrast during “Helix” we see the other side of Amaranthe with the keyboards dominating the sound and that plus Elize’s vocals give it more of a pop sound – until the male growling vocals start and remind us that this isn’t pop – it’s a blend of pop and metal.
This is the first album from Amaranthe since Jake E left the band and was replaced by Nils Molin, and I have to say he’s fitting in well – the vocals are great.
It’s seven years since the first Amaranthe album was released and the fact we’re now on album five shows the band really arent planning on taking things easy – 5 albums in 8 years is a pretty fast pace especially for a band like Amaranthe that tours heavily around the world. I think this is their best work yet and it’s an album I’ve been listening to a lot already.
Blending pop and death metal is something I’m sure could sound awful unless you get it just right, but Amaranthe really do get it spot on – it’s that perfect mix of heavy death metal and sweet catchy pop music that blends to form something that is both catchy and heavy. That balance is key to their success – without it being as heavy as it is then it could feel a bit lightweight, but the heavy guitar parts really make sure there’s enough here to interest most metal fans.
A fantastic album.
1. The score
8. Breakthrough Starshot
9. My haven