A crossover between extreme metal and electronic tunes is the ultimate mission for the Swedish giants, Amaranthe, who have unleashed their techno influenced hard rock in this latest release, ‘Helix’
‘The Score’ opens with a futuristic spoken word piece before Elize Ryd kicks in with her angelic vocals, closely followed by the duo tag team vocal talents of Lundberg and Solvestrom. The music is crunching and powerful, with the vocals clean and crisp. The musical score is as you would expect from Amaranthe, although maybe more polished and sheened than on previous efforts. The trio of vocals work in perfect harmony, the guttural growls, the clean male vocals and the female efforts of Ryd. Overall ‘The Score’ is a competent enough opening.
‘365’ is up next and it has been chosen to represent the band as the next single off this package. This is way more groovier than ‘The Score’, and it doesn’t seem to have too much of a complex musical back bone, instead the band have opted for a more poppier approach, and this will no doubt see them appealing to a more mainstream crowd than some of their peers may want to target. The song is bolstered each end with more futuristic spoken word which all adds to the release concreted firmly at the lighter end of the spectrum.
‘Inferno’ is one of the heavier tracks, and sees Ryd’s vocals hitting out with a little more power, almost in direct competition with Lundberg and Solvestrom. The drums are a constant in the background, and the guitars work together effortlessly to create an affable end product, in a guilty pleasure type forum.
The album continues in the same vain with ‘Countdown’, the title track ‘Helix’, ‘Dream’ and ‘GG6’. The 3 vocals working together and the musical soul being of a competent level, I just personally find it all a little simplistic, clean and fun, to be anything of noteworthy. The clean male vocals are soft and Elize’s efforts are competent enough, but almost come across as trying too hard in parts, and at other times they seem to be thrown in to fill some unavoidable voids. The harsh vocals are probably the best out of the trio, but these seem all too repetitive in parts.
‘Breakthrough’ has one of the heavier intros seen on the album, but this peels off to a more weak and laborious main body of work. ‘My Haven’ has some obscure vocals thrown in to mix things up, and these are reminiscent of Max Cavalera and his Soulfly, tribal esque style. The music again is competent enough, however they do go off on a tangent with some random synth inlays.
‘Unified’ is pretty much a power ballad, but has some muscle and clout injected with some nice raw vocals, but this I’m sorry to say isn’t enough to pull this track back from the abyss. The album comes to a close with ‘Momentum’, in which all the vocalists fight to capitalise, and seem to battle for a bite of the apple, with the rest of the band upping the tempo slightly from previous tracks. For me this is probably the highlight of the album, it’s simply a shame it’s just all a little too late.
If you are going to grab this based on your appreciation of Amaranthe’s previous releases, be warned, they have gone off on a tangent with this one. If you are an admirer of the lighter side of the continuum, with plenty of imperceptible feathery tunes, or if you want an album to give you some respite from all you frost bitten, barren, venomous, raw black metal, or even your guttural, crunching, pounding death metal, then this may just be for you. I, on the other hand, found it all a little too insubstantial and gentle.
(3/10 Phil Pountney)