October 15, 2018 Amaranthe – Helix (Album Review)
Massively addictive Metal (MAD, if you will). That is what Amaranthe stand for and what they deliver on their latest, Helix, which arrives to make you dance on Friday, October 19, 2018, thanks to the good folks at Spinefarm Records.
Formed in 2008, Gothenburg, Sweden’s Amaranthe originally deemed themselves Avalanche, though a name change was soon to become necessary. A band that brings together a myriad of Metal talents – including Olof Mörck (Dragonland, Nightrage), Elize Ryd (toured with Kamelot), Morten Løwe Sørensen (The Cleansing, Koldborn, Mercenary), and Johan Andreassen (Engel) – Amaranthe was practically destined for sonic greatness. The band got to work immediately and released their self-titled in 2011, all while beginning to build an impressive name for themselves. They would follow their initial offering up with three additional albums over the next five years – 2013’s The Nexus, 2014’s Massive Addictive, and 2016’s Maximalism – cementing themselves as an exciting name in Metal.
With their fifth studio release on the horizon, Amaranthe – Vocalists Ryd and Nils Molin, Screamer Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson, Guitarist/Keyboardist Mörck, Bassist Andreassen, and Drummer Sørensen – are preparing to proudly wave their massive-addictive flag. The 12-song collection happily pioneers a new approach to music-making, one that Amaranthe fans already know well. Throughout their career, the band has been happily riding an upward trajectory – including a No. 1 charting on Billboard’s Heatseekers with Maximalism – and now is as great a time as any to go truly massive. With refined melodic sensibilities and a massively aggressive assault, they present to you the brand-new Helix.
Helix opens with the pulsating rhythms of “The Score,” a multi-layered explosion that beautifully blends Ryd and Molin’s crisply soaring vocal offerings against Wilhelmsson’s gritty growls. The end result is an infectious track that presents a wall of sound peppered with Sci-Fi dustings, something that inspires headbanging and dancing alike. In fact, this is a perfect example of a band who blend all things Metal with elements of EDM to create a sound that is often otherworldly, heavy, and hip-shaking. Welcome to Helix!
The glorious Broadway Musical Rent had “525,600 Minutes,” instead, Amaranthe have “365.” Here, Djent-y bass slams, jack-hammering drums, and futuristic synths all blend into a dance-able Metal assault that is so entirely catchy it will not be denied. Likewise, the punctuated Djent-y notes continue throughout the throbbing layers of “Inferno,” where Molin unleashes a truly delicious vocal performance that is complemented perfectly by Wilhelmsson’s vicious howls, all while their bandmates hold down the impressive melodies and assaulting Metal.
There’s a hip-shaking stomp to the marching “Countdown,” a dance-y Metal concoction that, like the entirety of Helix, is infectious. Meanwhile, scrumptious synth-work weaves throughout the core of the thrumming album namesake, “Helix,” where EDM meets Metal in a deliciously-digestible amalgamation. Coupled with twinkling keys, Ryd sounds like a Pop princess on “Dream,” though her bandmates provide enough ballsy punch to remind you that, nope, this will never be brainless ear-candy. However, to make absolutely certain that this point is proven, Amaranthe unleash the brutal “GG6” (no relation to BB-8), with crazy heavy sonics that see Wilhelmsson taking the gritty vocal lead.
They name-check Lady Godiva on the bopping “Breakthrough Starshot” before Wilhelmsson takes over the frenetic charge on the verses of “My Haven,” a perfect contrast to Ryd and Molin’s soaring, melodic choruses. In turn, Molin belts out some truly impressive moments on the anthemic slam of “Iconic,” which flows perfectly into the down-tempo, ballad-esque “Unified,” another stellar moment for Molin in the spotlight. Though, ultimately, the band opt to go out with a bang on “Momentum,” the eye of one addictively rocking storm that seeks to unify the universe via molten Metal.
There’s no denying the talents of Amaranthe. Their myriad elements come together to create massive-sounding, multi-layered Metal presentations that contain elements of Symphonic Metal, EDM, straightforward heavy, and so much more. The vocal harmonies here are undeniable, as Ryd, Molin and Wilhelmsson trade off vocal duties flawlessly, giving the band a triple-edge over many others who struggle just to find one decent lead. Which all just serves to buoy the equally impressive talents of Mörck, Andreassen, and Sørensen.
On Helix, there are moments that feel like the 1980s, Sci-Fi flourishes, Pop sensibilities, and melodies to die for, all strangely culminating in one truly infectious, wonderfully heavy collection. It is a credit to Amaranthe’s talents that they can blend such myriad styles flawlessly, authoring their own unique sound that is truly exciting. You will dance, you will sing, you might mosh and there’s a definite opportunity for headbanging, all thanks to Helix! For these reasons, CrypticRock give Amaranthe’s Helix 4.5 of 5 stars.