Sweden’s Amaranthe has released their sixth studio album Manifest after teasing their fans with the singles Viral, Strong, and Archangel under their new record label Nuclear Blast in 2019. The band’s unique sounds of extreme metal and electronic tune entwinement is a delight to music fans of all genres, paving a way for the rest to follow after being the driving force of modern metal concept.
From end to end, the album is a metal banger. Manifest is their heaviest album to date, screaming with more metallic ingredient such as in Archangel, possessing the combination of harsh and cleans of Wilhelmsson and Molin, and the intense but beautiful vocals of the Elize Ryd, all over the pummeling of the rhythm section; making such tracks and entwined vocal combination as the sample DNA of Amaranthe. It’s not all super heavy, as Ryd explain, with track ballad Crystalline carries the personal touch over the loss of a family member.
Elize Ryd – considered as one of the best frontperson in a metal band, also smashes the highest ceiling in a vocal demonstration with an interview with Sheldon Ang.
Sheldon: Amaranthe means unfading. The band used to be called Avalanche, how did the name come about?
Elize: There was a collaboration with Olof (Morck – guitarist, songwriter) from Dragonland and his keyboard player. It was more of a concept and we were hooking up to write songs. We got signed by a label, and the moment we got signed and before we released any songs, there was this other band in Sweden called Avalanche, and they sent an email to us and said, “Hey you can buy our band name three thousand Euros”, and we were like, ‘What, no – we are just going to change our name’”, then Olof came up with Amaranthe, where we have created the “A”, and we were like “that’s even better”….which is more beautiful…more feminine and less aggressive…
Sheldon: And the name is more positive than Avalanche.
Elize: Exactly…Avalanche is nothing good…is pretty cool to look at, but very bad if you’re caught by one, so Amaranthe is so much better. It’s also the name of a flower – which is purple, and is really beautiful…peace, and is perfect…and it’s how is supposed to be. Fated probably.
Sheldon: The name of the latest album is Manifest. It could mean the manifestation of something that is great…or a shipping manifest. I assumed it is the former?
Elize: Yeah we want to use the word as in we are manifesting our music, and the meaning of Amaranthe basically. It started with healing, we started with getting into the core, we found a song with the DNA of our music, and the purpose of our bands has always been the mixing of different elements…real uplifting stories and the positive vibe, like limitless, the expression of the metal base of it. So when we first started, it sounded really good on the previous album, and is a really good start, a very good start, and we could take this further…we could lower the key, and parts of the song a little heavy, and the bass obviously, and then all the key sounds…and we continue…and that’s how we can all manifest the band…and now with the new record label (Nuclear Blast) and how we can reach a new audience…and now this is it…this is who we are.
Sheldon: This album is heavier and darker as well. Why has it gone darker and heavier?
Elize: I was thinking about it as well. I thought it’s about the time we change the tuning of this album because we started this tuning for the first 2 albums and then we changed it higher to make the song a bit lighter, I missed the old heaviness so I wanted to bring us back. So of course Olaf was on board as well, and it has to do with the climate around the world that has changed. And it inspired us to be more serious and be more matured, but of course we want to keep a more positive front… because that is very important to be serious about the more serious topics. So yeah it was a natural development. If everything is amazing around the world, where there are problems and nothing to complain about then our music would sound completely different.
Sheldon: As a vocalist do you find it more difficult to sing at a higher tempo?
Elize: From the previous album, when I wrote this “Countdown” (Elize demonstrated) well I think I reached my peak. I feel I can belt out the voice…when I just throw up but when you do the entire song…especially after playing a forty five minute set, or of you’re in the middle of it, or at ninety minutes towards the end of it, of course it takes lot of power for me to do reach those heights…of course if you’re a bit dried out or have a slight cold, then it’d be impossible to do that. Usually at live, it’s hard for me to sing the low part (Elize did another demonstration). It’s not difficult, is more like challenging. And the lowed part I need tension…(Elize demonstratration)…so is really high ones and there’s really low ones…so this album has really good balance, so I hope there’ll be not be any problems to perform these songs live. Maybe there’s Archangel...
Sheldon: Your guitarist said this is the best album to date. What is it about this album that makes it the best?
Amaranthe: We are very happy with the make. Usually you can think out when you listen to your own album afterwards…like “ah I’d like to hear the harmonies a bit more”. Since we created the music from fresh and we made the deal, the balance can be in anyway…so we know exactly where are the songs. Sometimes we can listen, “oh why is the keyboards is missing” and there’s a lot of things to think about when it comes to the sounds with Amaranthe. Sometimes we have layers with keyboards, they have to be in the right balance to create the right songs and obviously that’s a hard job for Jacob and you cannot always be there and listening to everything, so these are the things that we see as results….and this time it feels good because it is very straight forward…and is heavier which I also love…and also the themes and lyrics are very honest…is semi mature, and as you grow older you can allow yourself to be childish…and stuff that happens as you get experienced, and in general we are happy for us it has to be a very strong message, we didn’t apologise for anything and we didn’t hold back in any way which often gives us a feeling we are very pleased with the result.
Sheldon: There are three vocalists in Amaranthe; you…Nils does the clean vocals, and Henrik does the harsh ones. Do each of the three singers play different roles?
Elize: The fun part with Amaranthe is that the three of us play the same role, but we keep the same strength – but in different form – but the idea is that we are one – like a unit. So that is the fun part. For example, in our first song Hunger, the growls goes, “and this is my love songs” and then “I love you” – that’s the whole idea. Just like people I guess, that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover …and this is the message…whatever Henrik sings, I could sing or Nils could sing. So if you listen carefully some part I have the growls and the other way round. We try keep it as a unit and as strong. But we present our strengths in a different ways.
Sheldon: The single Viral is not about corona virus, right?
Elize: The basic was done before the pandemic. The title was ready and the riff. But we had not finished the vocal melodies and the lyrics. So we wrote that in the studio while being in lockdown…it was suppose to be about social media but it turned out to be about the crisis and how people are living through social media in this crisis.
Sheldon: Crystalline is my favourite song. I got a feeling is a very sad song, and Deep. Am I correct?
Elize: You are correct, very correct. I wrote the vocal melodies and lyrics in the house in the middle of night, and that was a few days after my grandmother passed away. I was very sad. On the other hand I wanted to make something beautiful. And Olof had just been separated from his wife…and we were both in this state of mind, that you missed somebody but you shouldn’t feel alone even though the person is not next to you in person. And that’s basically what the song is all about. But of course you can make your own stories. So it can be about a family member…somebody may have just passed…and that was the case for a lot of people during the lockdown. Like so many people were home alone. And not being with the people they love… I feel like my grandma was co-writing with me, sending some ideas to my head; it is a very different ballad.
Sheldon: Another single Archangel – is this Michael from the bible?
Elize: It’s based on Paradise Lost book and the war against god in heaven. It’s about Lucifer as well…which is about the really bad things that is happening on earth. Like there’s fires, with environmental disasters, and is fitted to this album…where we could bring in some new elements, and it still feels current, with some humans still locking the earth …you know, the fallen angels…from good or bad. So there’s some different perspective as well. So it is absolutely inspired by the Paradise Lost book.
Sheldon: Normally the band would tour after an album release. Are you guys writing another album?
Elize: We are very lucky and doing interviews. We have recorded five music videos. We just came back from Poland, where we recorded 2 music videos, with the same theme that made the Archangel video, we’ve been quite busy…im doing some side projects writing in studios here in Sweden…we discussed with the band if we should be doing live streams…or wait and play the songs live for the first time in front of live audience. We are discussing we’d like to do a cover album but we had not had the time…so that might be something we’d like to do maybe next year.