Interview | AMARANTHE

An Unstoppable Force

The Swedish six-piece Amaranthe is a hardworking modern metal band that found its origin in 2008 and that is not afraid to cross musical borders. So far they released 5 studio albums [ `Amaranthe’, `The Nexus’, `Massive Addictive’, `Maximalism’ and `Helix’], which also incorporates dance beats, electronic soundscapes, melodic elements, very aggressive approaches, clean and harsh vocals, all blended together into their own recognizable and addictive ear candy. Having three vocalists sharing the front position makes Amaranthe extra special in the metal scene and there is no doubt that their hybrid, sonic adventures have become very successful over the years. Amaranthe also grew into a very professional and energetic live band that toured the world with many other well-known bands. Armed and ready to unleash their new studio album `Manifest’ on October 2nd, Amaranthe invited journalists for an exclusive, digital listening session, annex press conference, to unveil what we all can expect.

Photo credit: Johan Carlén/Nuclear Blast

`Manifest’ contains 12 tracks with very punchy titles [,,Fearless’’, ,,Make It Better’’, ,,Scream My Name’’, ,,Viral’’, ,,Adrenaline’’, ,,Strong’’, ,,The Game’’, Crystalline’’, ,,Archangel, ,,Boom!1’’, ,,Die And Wake Up’’, ,,Do Or Die’’], in which Amaranthe obviously sound stronger and more confident than ever. The music is heavy, very dynamic, almost hyper, divers yet also melodic and the dominant aggressive tone is very pleasant. It is a sonic adventure next level and the listener is also in for a few surprises, like the rap and gent style of ,,Boom! 1’’
Due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, Amaranthe almost didn’t make it to the studio of the famous producer Jacob Hansen in Denmark, to record this amazing album. In fact, it even took some balls to do so.
Olof Mörck [guitars, keyboard], Elize Ryd [female clean vocals], Nils Molin [male clean vocals], Morten Løwe Sørensen [drums] and Johan Andreassen [bass] [harsh vocalist Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson couldn’t make it today] are telling their story.

First of all we `only’ get to hear 11 tracks and it is the final track ,,Do Or Die’’ that is missing today. Olof explains why: 
,,We released this song as a single in February, having Angela Gossow [former Arch Enemy-vocalist] doing guest vocals, singing together with Elyze. The version on the album will only contain Nils and Henrik, so we actually have a girls and a boys version of this song.’’ 

,,It was really a gamble but it was either that or call off the entire album recording.’’- Olof Mörck

The recording process became an exciting and different adventure for the band, as they locked themselves up in the studio in Denmark together with Jacob Hansen early March, just in time before borders were officially closed. As Olof recalls:
,,Originally the recordings supposed to start on March 16, which was on a Monday and we had planned to travel to Denmark the day before. But on Friday late in the evening, we heard the Danish border was going to close the next day, which was Saturday afternoon. We had to take the quick decision that same evening to travel down to Denmark, which meant to take the train at 7 in the morning to be able to make it and to pack that same night our gear, studio stuff and all our personal belongings to be able to live for 2 months down in Denmark. Also not knowing when we actually could come back to Sweden and if Sweden would lock down their borders as well, maybe we would have to go to quarantine, so at that point many things were uncertain to say the least. It was really a gamble but it was either that or call off the entire album recording, because you can’t find another studio to record for two months with some producer that you’ve never worked with before. The whole thing was really up in the air and kind of scary actually.’’
Elize adds: 
,,We were in the studio for two and a half months. We also had a lot of discussions with the guys who weren’t there yet with us. Johan ended up recording his bass in Helsinki.’’
Johan explains why: 
,,I live in Finland so to have to cross two borders would be kind of a hassle and the liability to embarking those trips. So we simply made a plan B: I stayed in Finland and went out to Helsinki to Joonas Parkkonen’s [Former Santa Cruz] E…. studio and did my part there and it worked out well.’’
,,But, eventually we got the permit for Nils and Henrik to come down to the studio, so it all worked out. It would have been a nightmare to be honest if they wouldn’t have made it, because it is all about the chemistry as well. What we also were trying to do is to integrate everyone for real this time, but of course Nils already did a great job on `Helix’.’’

Not knowing if it would even be possible to go on tour later this year to support `Manifest’ in front of an audience, the band felt very determined to record the new album anyway. Olof remembers there was a short conversation about possibly postponing the album because the tours that are planned for this fall are to say the least up in the air and will very likely not happen and not be able to tour the same time the album comes out. But Olof and Elize were both very anti delaying this album. Olof states that the music speaks for itself and you don’t need to tour in order to release an album. Besides, all the bands are in the same boat right now, it’s not like you are legging behind anybody. And he is right about that!
Elize motivates right after:
,,It would have been really sad to not release the album. Even I am looking for new music all the time. Since no one is going on tour anymore at the moment I just want at least to be able to listen to new music. We are very happy that we could finish the album in time and to have it out very soon.’’
Nils realizes that recording an album unfortunately hasn’t been a possibility for many bands: ,,To fortunate circumstances and some bold and brave decisions we were able to do it. At this point I think everybody is very happy that we are able to hold the release date and to release the album on time.’’

,,With `Manifest’ we stick to the core more than ever.’’-Elize Ryd

Olof tells us it all started last summer when they had a bunch of ideas and started to talk about how the album should be and the concept idea of it, instead of sitting down and writing songs from blank and playing around with keyboards, guitars or vocals.
,,It’s always good to have a general vision of where you want to go as a band, actually talk and dream about it to connect with the right emotions. Late last year we started to crystalize the ideas and wrote about 17 really quick sketches. Then we went on a European tour with Sabaton [`The Great Tour’] the beginning of this year, and instead of changing our minds after that, we developed those sketches and put all the energy and emotions we experienced during that tour as well as used what works in an arena. A lot of different vibes actually went into the new songs and obviously we touched up the whole COVID-19 situation as well, regardless of how terrible that situation is. It’s always really inspiring for an artist when the world comes crumbling down I suppose. We always had a lot of pop, dance, and ambient electronic elements on every album, in different levels though, but we are fundamentally a metal band. We are maybe a bit more open to outside influences than the average metal band but with that said, this is the album with the loudest guitars we’ve done so far. The bass is really loud, the drums are really loud and actually the vocals are really loud as well. There are some really, really heavy parts on this album which is exciting.’’
Elize adds important information: ,,For the first time in our entire career we also have changed management and record label [Nuclear Blast]. Working with fresh, new people also had a big impact on the entire process and it inspired us a lot. It all felt like a fresh new start, we figured out what this band is, what we do best and what we like doing the most, because we have been very experimental with our song writing lately. We decided to pick out the best candies from the bag and put it in this album, so with `Manifest’ we stick to the core more than ever.’’
Olof jumps in again: ,,The underline is, when you feel you have the best record label and the best management, the best booking agency available, than you feel powerful and very much inspired by it. Pressure in the best possible way.’’

New deal signed

`Manifest’ sounds like the most powerful and intense album Amaranthe has ever made and all band members consider it as a natural development. Johan points out they have always tried to push the envelope somehow and according to him it’s simply how this band works and this felt like a natural development in the right direction. ,,As a family, an entity being where we are now, we are most comfortable and relaxed than we’ve ever been since our start. All the hard work is finally paying off. We have a great team behind us, also crew members that go on tour with us, we relax in a completely different way than we have ever done and that gives us the opportunity to sort of push the energy we have out into the music and out on stage, instead of using our energy trying to resolve any issues within the family so to speak. We don’t have to bother by that anymore because we got all the shit out of there and now we just work on moving forward like a freight train. Once you start moving it is hard to stop. This is a complete new chapter in the book of Amaranthe.’’
Elize couldn’t agree more: ,,This fresh, new start gave us so much positive energy the past 2 years, we are all fulltime band members, getting along very well and everybody has a good time, which is very important as well when you are a band because it effects the songs. Since we started the band we’ve always tried to sound strong and positive, but along the way when we worked too much at some point we lost that a little bit. The tour with Sabaton helped a lot to focus on getting that back again, so thank you all!’’
Olof also wants to mention the importance of getting comfortable on an individual level, living this musician lifestyle. ,,All of us have been musicians for a long time and you also get to know yourself, also in combination with other people, learn how to treat and respect each other. Nobody is perfect you know, so don’t let it effect your mood too much. As a band we went through some troubled times a few years ago but we came out stronger, we know what we want and this album recording was the easiest and smoothest ever.”

Thereafter Elize confirms the lyrics are based, inspired by the current global situation. ,,We’ve already known that the world slowly has been getting more and more damaged and now lately with the fires and the climate changes, it is a subject we always want to touch and we actually already did on the first albums. It is a big interest of ours, we care a lot about these topics, but then of course when this pandemic kicked in it made even more sense. That’s why we actually adjust some of the lyrics so that they would fit with the current situation. Even better, the situation inspired us to write lyrics that we felt we wanted to let out when we got the chance to. Some of the songs were created in the studio, like ,,Archangel’’ and the ballad ,,Crystallized’’, which we wrote in our quarantine mood thinking about our loved ones back home. This song is very much speaking for the current situation, having this social distancing and all. Also the vocal melodies have a different approach, to go to the chorus and make it very minimalistic at first, that is something we haven’t done before because we usually write power ballads, but in the end it turned out kind of a power ballad. We had a very thoughtful way of writing that ballad because since we only have one ballad on each album we want them at least be very different from each other. It was a fun process.’’
Olof explains more: ,,In one way it is the typical love song but it is more themed about longing with the loved ones back home. But it is also on a personal level. The lyrics are almost abstract and anyone who listens to it could recognize themselves in what the lyrics are about. We describe a negative situation but you don’t need to approach it in a negative way. Even if it is a hopeless situation you still need artists to sing about positive things to make the world come together.’’
Elize: ,,Optimism keeps us alive in these kind of situations. That is why it is also important for ourselves to stay optimistic and also to present that in our songs.’’
Nils: ,,People need a positive message in these times and what could be a more positive message than having song titles like ,,Fearless’’, ,,Make It Better’’, ,,Strong’’, etc.’’

,,We are not scared to try new things.’’-Elize Ryd

,,Boom!1’’ is a song that grips attention right away, because of its rapping character. Elize tells the idea behind it.
,,Our main focus is to present our emotions, but because we have 3 vocalists we have the opportunity to present different vocal styles. Henrik happens to be very good at this kind of rap-growl style doing it also in a fast way. He hasn’t been able to show that in other songs. ,,Boom!1’’ is an experiment and it was fun to do. It has a lot of humour in it but Henrik also very well performs it. It is extremely hard to sing like this and we also wanted to show that you can growl in many different ways. We are not scared to try new things. For instance I sing extremely low on this album, I am not scared to change my singing key, which fits Nils’s voice better and makes him shine more. Nils is an amazing vocalist. It’s my job to write vocal melodies and I write them in a way that everyone can shine as much as possible. I was there first, recording all my parts alone and I didn’t know if they were able to make it to the studio. The vocal melodies and the key, we made sure it would fit Nils perfectly.’’
Nils, who is actually relative new in the band, continues: ,,We have been working on the vocals quite a lot in the studio. For me personally this is my second album with the band. With the first album everything was brand new for me and for the band getting used to me and my style of singing and all that, but now two years later we’ve toured together for so long, everybody knows each other in and out and we are getting along very well. So this time recording the vocals was an easy process and also a very fun experience. We had lots of parties in the singing booth all the time. No [laughing], it was just a very relaxed environment and fun process; let’s try this, experiment that and yeah this is cool. We had a lot of freedom and I think we came up with great results in terms of all the vocals. Everybody has outdone himself vocally on this album. And eventually being there with the whole team gathered working in the studio, to record my vocals in Denmark, it gave the best results.’’

And there are also some guests shining on `Manifest’, like for instance in the suburb track ,,Strong’’. Elize couldn’t be more excited about it: ,,That is Noora Louhimo from the Finnish metal band Battle Beast. We were supposed to go on a US tour together in August at the same day as our album release, but now we don’t know anymore if we will be able to get the visa’s etc. in time. We haven’t received any information from the United States of America yet, so we have to wait and see. Noora is an amazing women and vocalist, I love her a lot. We are very pleased to have her on our album.’’
Olof continues excited as well: ,,We also have Perttu Kivilaakso, cello player of Apocalyptica, another great Finish band, in ,,Crystalline’’. And Elias Holmlid from my other band Dragonland is playing the beautiful piano parts also in this song. In ,,Boom!1’’ Heidi Shepherd from Butcher Babies is acting out as the California girl. In the album version of ,,Do Or Die’’, you can hear the magnificent talented Jeff Loomis from Arch Enemy playing a guest solo. Working with Angela Gossow in the girls version of ,,Do Or Die’’ was a great experience, because Angela is also our fantastic manager since august 2018. It was actually her initial concept with the whole ,,Do Or Die’’ song. We already had started to write a song that then turned out to fit this idea really well. If you look at the video it is obviously based upon environmental themes and how basically we are screwing up the world in a bunch of different ways. Angela also knew a great video director to realize this concept. The video was shot in Spain during some very cold days in December of last year, in a storm with very long hours. This was a challenge but a fun one. The whole thing just turned out into a really powerful package at the end of the day.’’

,,Now people have the opportunity to first take their time to enjoy the music on a deeper level before they see us live.”-Olof Mörck

The artwork of the album is stunning, having a futuristic look and feel, made by the famous concept artist Emmanuel Shiu, who is known for his work for Blade Runner 2049, Alien: Covenant, Deadpool, Sin City, to name a few. Morten describes the artwork as a dystopian scenery, looking very dark but with this big shiny beam, a skyscraper, of hope in there as well, which of course symbolize Amaranthe.
And like Olof says:
,,We sent him a pretty much detailed description of the general idea: a dystopian city that is crumbling but there should be a beacon of light and hope in the shape of an Amaranthe skyscraper and a bunch of other details, hidden symbolism everywhere of course for the listener to discover.’’

As for any band at the moment also Amaranthe has no idea what’s in store for the entertainment and music industry in the [near] future, having all these current restrictions. Olof assures the band is still optimistic and will do whatever they can to keep the train going. ,,This online press conference is an example of doing promotion in a non-traditional way. We have been talking about how we can do certain things as replacement of live shows but it’s not set in stone yet. It is not something we are 100 per cent certain of how we will do it if we have to do it. I think there is a lot of other things that goes into the normal promo circle to releasing an album, like hundred billion interviews, signing sessions, Q&A’s, you know all the usual stuff. But then it is also nice to let the music speak for itself as well, because it can be quite stressful they way it was. Now people have the opportunity to first take their time to enjoy the music on a deeper level before they see us live.’’
As Elize ends the conversation: ,,Yeah, we absolutely can imagine doing live streaming shows, us in a venue without an audience if our fans want us to do it we would love to do it for them. But on the other hand, what makes a live show so special is that people actually do gather, being in the same room and experiencing a magical feeling and that of course is gonna get lost if we do an online live streaming. But again, if there is no other way for us to perform at all this year I think it is a big chance we’ll do that.’’

`Manifest is available for pre-order now:
Bandshop North America here
Bandshop EU here
Pre-order via Nuclear Blast here
Nuclear Blast pre-order / stream here

The tracklist of “Manifest” reads as follows:

1. Fearless
2. Make It Better
3. Scream My Name
4. Viral
5. Adrenaline
6. Strong (feat. Noora Louhimo)
7. The Game
8. Crystalline
9. Archangel
10. BOOM!1
11. Wake Up And Die
12. Do Or Die

Bonus Tracks:
13. 82nd All The Way
14. Do Or Die (feat. Angela Gossow)
15. Adrenalina (Acoustic)
16. Crystalline (Orchestral)

Credit header photo: Johan Carlén/Nuclear Blast


Hailing from Sweden-active since 2008.


melodic, metal, metal core




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