Amaranthe – Manifest Review

Score7/10
GenreMelodic Metal (Pop Metal)
CountrySweden
Runtime40:20
Release Date2 October 2020
Record LabelNuclear Blast

Sweden’s melodic metal masters Amaranthe have continued to hold the pop metal standard high in their sixth album, Manifest. While I’ll never come back to half of the tracklist, the amount of sheer talent Amaranthe continues to display can’t be ignored; whether it’s the relentless, intricate grooving of drummer Morten Løwe Sørensen or the combined vocal talents of Elize Ryd, Nils Molin, or Henrik “GG6” Englund, there’s a ton to appreciate musically.

If there’s one thing that can be said about Manifest, it’s that it’s exactly consistent with what you’d expect an Amaranthe album to be: bright, hopeful choruses in between thunderous rhythm section syncopation, digital synths, and colossal growls. It leans further to the pop side, (like everything since The Nexus) but it contains enough powerful riffs and chugging that it still sits comfortably under the metal banner, although not under the power metal banner, as so many others seem to be convinced.

In all honesty, I was ready to call it quits on this album after my first listen. It seemed like they gave up on everything else and settled into being a metalcore version of late 2000s pop groups. However, being that I’ve been a huge fan of these guys for years (and also that I first spun it on my shitty Bluetooth speaker at work), I decided to give it another spin, for old time’s sake. And, fortunately, that led to a few more listens.

Sure, my initial reaction still holds up for the trainwrecks that are ‘Stronger’ (does someone wanna tell me how you can fuck up a song that features both Elize Ryd AND Noora Louhimo?), ‘Die and Wake Up’, ‘Make It Better’, and the poorly-named ‘Adrenaline’, but Manifest‘s best tracks live up to the band’s full capabilities.

For starters, ‘Fearless’ kicks the album off with all the shiny-yet-ferocious badassery Amaranthe is known for. The following tracks rotate between crap and good-but-not-great (and a full-out Dynazty song in ‘Do Or Die’) until the second half, where we get to some seriously killer tracks in ‘The Game’, ‘Archangel’, and my personal favourite, ‘Boom!’. Seriously, if you lost all hope in Amaranthe because of MAXIMALISM or Helix, ‘Boom!’ is probably the completely wrong song to recommend, but it’s such a shitshow that I have to. It’s the obligatory GG6 feature on the album, so you can expect some of the best growling/rapping metal has to offer, along with shameless self-awareness.

As a sidenote, I can’t say for sure (because I haven’t been bothered to check), but I would imagine that the differing factor between the tracks I like and dislike is how involved Elize Ryd is in the songwriting. In Helix, new male vocalist Nils Molin (Dynazty) didn’t get a proper introduction (in my own not-so-humble opinion), and there was way too much “Oo, look at me!” from Elize. Not that I think she’s a bad vocalist by any stretch; she’s actually one of my favourites. However, it seems like the band is all the better when she takes a step back from the songwriting and allows the music to be more of a team effort.

All in all, Manifest is about the best an album like this could be. It’s easily the best Amaranthe album since 2013 and it blows pretty much every other band in the space (think Metalite (or maybe protect yourself by NEVER thinking about Metalite), Scarleth, CyHra, In Flames kinda) out of the water.

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Dynazty – The Dark Delight Review

Score9/10
GenreMelodic Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime52:17
Release Date3 April 2020
Record LabelAFM

Where a lot of bands would suffer severe burnout after releasing a new album every two years for more than a decade, Dynazty are sounding fresher than ever in their seventh record, The Dark Delight. Full of electronic elements and powerful melodies, there’s far more between the lines than just modern flare. The Swedish melodic metallers have struck gold with an album that bursts with commercial accessibility and badass heavy metal in equal measure.

The uniqueness this album contains is surprising, considering frontman Nils Molin has also been busy as the new male vocalist of the Swedish pop metal group Amaranthe. Despite a similar core sound (colossal drums and guitars, bouncy synth melodies), The Dark Delight retains its individuality, even when compared to Dynazty’s own previous stuff.

Most of the tracks have identical styles, staying heavy and darker for the verses then lightening up a bit on the chorus. Although, Dynazty do an excellent job at keeping every song sounding unique while working around this idea. The melodies are strong and catchy and the beats carry serious headbangability, so it’s easy to see why The Dark Delight holds its own with other modern metal bands like Amaranthe, Delain, or The Dark Element.

The highlight for me isn’t the catchiness, or the electronic elements, or the massive guitars, or the colourful drumming. No, for me, the highlight is undoubtedly the soloing. Seriously. These guys lay down some serious shreds.

Even if you aren’t a fan of this style, The Dark Delight is commendable enough to warrant a listen. It’s not often a poppy metal album is full of so much detail, so if killer vocals, guitars, and drums aren’t good enough for you, maybe they will be.

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Melodic Metal: New Single From Dynazty

Swedish modern metallers Dynazty have dropped a new single from their upcoming album, The Dark Delight. ‘Presence of Mind’ follows the bands more recent albums, so we can likely expect an album of similar sound.

The Dark Delight will be Dynazty’s seventh album since their beginnings in 2007. While their music has explored a number of different styles, they have settled on modern melodic metal, as their previous three albums have supported.

No further details of The Dark Delight have been released yet, but you can expect to hear it on 4 April 2020!

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Metalite – Biomechanicals Review

Score4/10
GenreMelodic Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime48:51
Release Date25 October 2019
Record LabelAFM

Sweden’s up-and-coming female fronted melodic metal troupe Metalite have returned (and with a new vocalist) with their sophomore album, Biomechanicals. As the title alludes to, you can expect a melodic metal sound that’s drenched in electronic elements, layered vocals, and digital synths all over the place. And usually, that shit gets me pumped. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case here, because I have a bit of a bone to pick with this album.

But, to conserve a bit of my sanity, we’ll hit the positives first. The most obvious plus about Biomechanicals is that it outdoes Heroes in Time in every aspect. The production quality, songwriting, diversity, and musicianship is all better. Metalite have also proven once again that they know how to lay down an album full of catchy melodies, and the electronic arrangements are excellent. Additionally, there are some pretty good tracks on the album, namely ‘World on Fire’ and ‘Eye of the Storm’ (which has a sick solo), as well as a handful of other cool sections.

However, despite the good parts, Biomechanicals is outweighed by its negatives. The biggest contributor to these is the fact that Metalite, as they did in their debut, are trying way too hard to become Amaranthe. Seriously, I fully expect to hear three vocalists in their next album. Despite such a strong effort to hijack their sound, Biomechanicals is missing nearly every thing that makes Amaranthe so likable; the vocals are one-dimensional, the rhythms are basic, and there’s none of that metal punch that’s necessary to take the music from being just a pop metal album to a kickass metal album with a pop sound (because there is a huge difference, and it’s a very important difference).

I know you’re probably thinking, “Hey, man, you can’t just knock Metalite for not being as good as Amaranthe; they’re two different bands,” and that’s absolutely right. I usually don’t make that the point of my comparisons. However, this comparison becomes necessary once you hear a track like ‘Breakaway’, which is literally a blatant ripoff of Amaranthe’s ‘Infinity’ from The Nexus (see: the chorus and solo (and everything else)). Metalite have crossed the line from influence into straight-up copy-and-pasting and I think that warrants a bit of collation. So, yeah, maybe I’m being unfair, but are you fucking kidding me?

While it occasionally shines, Metalite’s Biomechanicals is all flash and no flare. Behind the album’s sparkly exterior is a dull foundation that can barely stand under the force of scrutiny. If they focused more on embracing their own path and strengths, Metalite could probably make an album that I’d be all over. But, until then, I’ll just be left with a persistent, metallic taste in my mouth.

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Melodic Metal: Amaranthe Sign Onto Nuclear Blast

Swedish modern metal heavyweights Amaranthe have signed onto Nuclear Blast. The band was formerly with Spinefarm Records, under which they released all five of their previous albums.

Amaranthe’s Olof Mörck:
“It feels amazing to unveil our cooperation with the giants at Nuclear Blast! Ever since we held our shiny new Nuclear Blast CD’s in our teenage hands back in the mid-90’s, they have been at the forefront of bringing the best of the best to the metal scene, and to have them as partners is a dream come true! They are not only massively experienced in the metal scene, but also wonderful people and it has been a pleasure getting to know them. We are already nailing down great plans for the future, and things are looking brighter and stronger for Amaranthe than ever! Keep your eyes open for our next leap forward together in the near future!”

Marcus Hammer, Managing Director of Nuclear Blast:
“We’re more than happy to welcome Amaranthe and Kult Management to the Nuclear Blast family. I’ve already been following the group for a while as they were touring with some of their new label mates. Being both great musicians and humans, that have a clear vision and are supported by an experienced team in the back, it was a no-brainer to try to win this outstanding band for our roster. Now we’re stoked to be the new partner at their side pursuing one goal: adding a successful next chapter to their already shiny career. The future looks bright for both, Amaranthe and Nuclear Blast.”

Amaranthe will release their next album some time in 2020. While no information has been released yet, the band has stated that they’ll begin recording after they finish their next round of tours, which include of a headline tour of Scandinavia followed by a tour with Sabaton and Apocalypta as support.

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CyHra Release First Single From Upcoming Album

The first single for CyHra’s sophomore album, No Halos in Hell, has been released. ‘Out of My Life’ follows the electronic/melodic metal sound of their debut fairly closely.

CyHra were formed in late 2016 by ex members of In Flames and Jake E of Amaranthe. Their first album, Letters to Myself, was released in 2017 and met generally favourable reception from critics and fans of Jake E’s earlier work.

When they announced the details for their upcoming album, CyHra also announced a new record deal with Nuclear Blast, having been with Spinefarm for Letters to Myself.

1. Out of My Life
2. No Halos in Hell
3. Battle From Within
4. I Am the One
5. Bye Bye Forever
6. Dreams Gone Wrong
7. Lost in Time
8. Kings Tonight
9. I Had Your Back
10. Blood Brothers
11. Hit Me
12. Man of Eternal Rain

No Halos in Hell will be released on 15 November.

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CyHra Sign Onto Nuclear Blast

After parting ways with Amaranthe in 2017, founder/vocalist Jake E started a new band, CyHra, along with Jesper Stromblad (who left In Flames around the same time).

CyHra released their debut, Letters to Myself, under Spinefarm. Now, the band have signed onto the mighty Nuclear Blast and will release their upcoming album, which has already been recorded, mixed and mastered.

While no news of the new album has been released yet, CyHra have also made public a European tour alongside Battle Beast and Brymir this November.

To hear their new single as soon as it’s out (which the band promises will be soon), go follow them on Facebook!

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