I spoke to ELIZE RYD from AMARANTHE about the new album, 'Manifest', due out October 2nd, recording during lockdown, cancelled tours, whether to do livestreams or not, and the dynamics of having 3 vocalists in the band. Great to chat with her as always.
If you'd prefer to read the interview, click here.
Music has become more important than ever in recent times. As a result, the triumphant return of AMARANTHE feels particularly timely. The Swedish six-piece have spent the last decade establishing themselves as a formidable, positive and fervently melodic force for metallic good. From their explosive self-titled debut in 2011 to the more sophisticated, streamlined likes of 2014’s Massive Addictive and its immaculate follow-up Maximalism (2016), AMARANTHE have masterfully blurred the lines between melodic metal, crushing brutality, cinematic sweep and futuristic sparkle. Led by the endlessly ingenious songwriting of guitarist Olof Mörck and powerhouse vocalist Elize Ryd, their rise to prominence has been a joy to behold.
Widely acclaimed as a dazzling live act, the Swedes reached a new peak of creativity on 2018’s hugely successful Helix: an album that pushed the band’s vision to new heights, breadths and depths, while showcasing the brilliance of Elize and her co-vocalists, Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson and recent recruit Nils Molin. As they approached the making of their sixth full-length album, Olof notes that AMARANTHE had never been more united or fired-up for the future.
“We were confident when we began work on this record, yes, but also comfortable,” he says. “Nils had only joined the band half a year before we recorded Helix. So while I was aware that he was a fantastic singer – that’s why he got the job! – we didn’t know exactly how to write vocal lines for this guy. This time around I knew exactly what we wanted him to sing, and he brought a lot of his own suggestions as well. His presence on the album really lifts the whole thing. He’s a phenomenal singer, but it’s great to take advantage of having two different characteristics in the clean vocals, with Nils and Elize combined with the growls. There’s quite a bit more Nils on this album, particularly in the choruses were they’re both lifting the song at the same time. It gives it a slight hint of an ‘80s, early ‘90s metal vibe. It was a joy to work on this album in general!”
Devoted fans of this band will have no complaints when new album Manifest is finally released. Although the Swedes have made their eclectic, unpredictable approach to making heavy music a trademark, the huge melodies, incisive riffing and scintillating, multi-dimensional sonics that have typified their rise to glory are here in abundance. But as with every AMARANTHE record to date, Manifest is also a clear and purposeful leap forward, too.
“From our second to our third album there was a pretty big shift, and then from Massive Addictive to Maximalism we really took a left turn,” Olof states. “Then from Maximalism into Helix there was another turn, but this album is a very logical continuation of Helix. But on this one we built up everything that really worked on the last album and pushed it up to 13! I’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s definitely the heaviest Amaranthe album. It’s really quite a metal album with massive, loud guitars. But we still have the pop/dance elements in there too, and some movie score epicness in there as well! It’s more diverse than Helix. It’s quite an adventurous album. We tried quite a few things that we never did before.”
Recorded in Denmark with long-time collaborator Jacob Hansen, Manifest is an album of multiple moods and textures, of immense power and aggression, and of exquisite beauty. That bold blending of disparate elements has always been part of the AMARANTHE ethos, but on their sixth album, the band exhibit an enhanced sense of lyrical and conceptual substance. With songs touching upon everything from looming climate disaster to theistic mythology, Olof and Elize have truly blossomed as commentators on mankind’s trials and tribulations. These are exciting, meticulously crafted future-metal anthems, custom-built to make heads bang, but underpinned by a profound sense of humanity and emotional honesty. As with preview single Do Or Die – released on Valentine’s Day this year, and featuring the legendary Angela Gossow – Manifest is a record that owes as much to the real world as it does to fantasy and escapism.
“It’s definitely the most mature and philosophical album we’ve made,” Olof agrees. “It’s deep and there’s a wide array of lyrical topics on there. We brought it up a little on the Do Or Die single, which as a little bit about the current environmental changes and the climate situation. We also have a few lyrical comments and discourses about the coronavirus situation as well, even if they’re not entirely on-the-nose. Then we have a break up song – not just a song about a relationship, but also about friendships and business things too.”
Surprisingly, perhaps, AMARANTHE – whose line-up is completed by bassist Johan Andreassen and drummer Morten Løwe Sørensen - are also about to unveil their most unashamedly malevolent and none-more-metal lyric to date.
“Well, to give you the wider picture, there’s actually a song about the fall of Lucifer and the creation of Satan!” Olof laughs. “That’s something really different for Amaranthe, but for some reason it just worked. So it’s a diverse album but quite a bit darker than before, I’d say. I must admit, I was a black metal kid when I was 14, ha ha!”
Not just a glorious return but a wholesale upgrade for their exuberant sound, Manifest is simply the most daring, dynamic and unforgettable album that AMARANTHE have released to date. The perfect antidote to the nagging anxieties plaguing us all in these troubled times, it’s a Technicolor celebration of metal’s ageless power, blazing with all of life’s colours and chaos, but delivered with utmost artistry and skill. As Olof concludes, it’s one exceptional reason to be cheerful.
“Are we happy with the new record? Hell yeah. Obviously every artist, directly after they’ve done something new, they always consider it to be their best material. But the cool thing is that everyone else who has heard it has said that they feel it’s better than anything we’ve released before. I really agree with that sentiment and I hope other people do too!”