Sound — 9
Amaranthe have refined their sound for their second album, but not necessarily improved it. The basic idea of their first album, "Amaranthine," remains the same, fast paced downtuned guitars and bass, fast drumming, and a synth overlay that works in conjunction with their three singers. As the singers are really the main part of this album, I will save them for later. First, I would like to talk about the guitars. Olof Mörck does a stand-up job in creating riffs that convey the punch and power of metal that fit nicely with the synth overlay while also crafting solos and melodic excursions that fit perfectly, and I do mean perfectly, with the synth and singers. Bass is yet again, inaudible. It's a shame really, because there are several parts of "The Nexus," that could have used some groovy bass lines. The drumming on this album, done again by Morten Løwe Sørensen, is phenomenal. He really took it up a notch on this album, going from the steady beat and occasional double kick of "Amaranthine," to making the drums really appear to have a mind of their own. The drums carry the melody without a hitch and have kicks, pauses, and breakdowns all in the right places. Additionally, when Sørensen isn't doing anything special in particular, (i.e. just carrying the beat,) the drums are always carrying a unique pattern, though it may not be noticeable on the first listen. Finally, the three singers, clean vocalist Jake E Berg, harsh vocalist Andreas Solveström, and clean vocalist Elize Ryd, again work together perfectly. Their voices all harmonize very well, and while Ryd's voice is usually the center of attention, the abilities of Berg and Solveström are not to be discounted. While they do remain relatively static in comparison to the range of Ryd's performance, they are still an integral part of the sound that is Amaranthe. Ryd's vocal performance is again stellar. While nothing much has changed since "Amaranthine," in regards to her performance, that isn't a bad thing. Her voice is quite powerful when it needs to be, as well somber or lacrimose during slower parts. Overall I find her voice to be quite enjoyable.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrically, Amaranthe is boring. No other way to put it really. The lyrics consist of the usual stuff, love, fate, escape, emotion, blah blah. No real change from their first album. The lyrics fit fine with the music, no problem there, they are just... dull. There isn't much else to write about. Perhaps if they had chosen an overarching theme to compose around, such as in the manner of Heaven Shall Burn or Deadlock, the lyrics might have turned out better. It's no question that without Ryd, Amaranthe wouldn't be nearly as successful. Sure, Berg and Solveström are quite capable on their own, but for this kind of melodic-power-type metal, Ryd is entirely necessary.
Overall Impression — 9
Comparable artists to Amaranthe include Kamelot, or maybe even Sonata Arctica, but they stand out from these artists on their own merit. I'll level with you hardcore metal fans here, I know some of you detest the thought of women in metal, and to that I say, "your loss." Personally, I love the vocals, I love the synth, I love the drumming. If you're on the fence about the idea, I would highly recommend Amaranthe as a band to test the waters. My overall impression of this album is that it is very entertaining. It's nearly impossible to not tap your foot or drum your fingers to the fast-paced beats that this album is brimming with. Otherwise, musically, it is quite neutral. Everyone has their reasons for liking or not liking music, and when it comes to Amaranthe, not everyone will be pleased, but not everyone will be disappointed either. If it were stolen, I'd probably get it again, it is great music to get some work done to.