Amaranthe: The Nexus

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Amaranthe: The Nexus
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Amaranthe: The Nexus
Alternative Rock, Metalcore, Power Metal
Spinefarm Records
March 13th, 2013
Release length: 41:34
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Amaranthe has been making some pretty big waves since their self-titled debut back in 2011. The group formed back in 2008 under the name Avalanche, changing it to their current monicker in 2009, and since then has been pummeling fans with hit after hit. Looking at those involved, it’s pretty easy to see why they’re such a success, as it features current and former members of Dragonland, Dreamland, Nightrage, and Within Y. The six-piece band presents a good deal of uplifting and high energy performances to the forefront of their anxiously awaited follow-up album, The Nexus. Is it a strong effort, or does this supergroup end up dropping the ball this time around?

The Nexus kicks things off right with a catchy and highly upbeat Power Metal infused track. The main verses are a little edgier, finding the clean male vocals at work with some shouting at certain times, a general trait to many of these tracks, but the chorus is rich with guitar hooks, focusing more on the female leads with some layering effects at work. Of course, it does show the band’s slightly mainstream appeal in full force, but it’s hard not to bang your head along to the sheer energy on display, getting swept up in it and the tight performance that really puts the bass kicks in the forefront. “Invincible” is a lot heavier all around, and really uses the Techno-esque synths to good use, keeping the song rather busy against a deeper guitar presence and simpler riffs more Melodic Death Metal than anything. The chorus is a little lighter with layered female vocals again, but a solid performance all around with a very powerful lyrical message.

This pace doesn’t stop anytime soon, either. “Theory of Everything” is another tight, faster track, but a bit more uplifting musically than the heavier trend “Invincible” started. There’s also more screaming here than many others, and the clean singing is largely focused around Elize Ryd. The guitar solo here is enjoyable, and what keyboards exist help to add a little more melody to the material. “Infinity” finds a decent heaviness to the mid-tempo verses as well. There aren’t many hooks to be found here, though what exists does have an uplifting atmosphere to it as well, allowing the drumming to shine through once more, but far less than it does on the chorus where it really pushes the beat along.

While some songs do hint at more of a radio-friendly blueprint, there are a few that scream mainstream intent. The duet track “Burn With Me” has more of an Alternative Rock vibe to it in the vein of Evanescence. The guitars are simple, and the drums are highly restrained. The music sounds dim all around, trying to convey an urgent emotion of change that is reflected well in the chorus, which really saves what could have been an otherwise uninspiring cash grab. Finally there’s “Electroheart,” which is a catchy track all around, but ends up more like something you’d hear at a dance club than anything else, especially around the chorus. This one is comparable to groups like Aqua, which isn’t all that bad considering it’s clearly a stand alone composition. What kills it, however, is the studio editing when things slow down, and it seems as if there’s some slight auto-tuning at work on the female vocals that is simply pointless and irritating. While these two are definitely out of place, they aren’t all that bad in the long run, and still hold the band’s already accessable sound at heart.

There’s no doubt that The Nexus isn’t going to hit home for most fans of Power Metal, and this is largely due to that strong radio-friendly sound the band brings with them. But, if you can look past some of the commercialized aspects, this is a solid effort that spans various different styles to make what equates to one hell of a Metal party soundtrack. With a number of truly memorable songs, and a few catchy cash-ins, Amaranthe make for a nice treat when you don’t feel like banging your head along to tales of Mordor or unicorns. The Nexus is definitely worth sampling first to make sure it’s your cup of tea, and if it is, there’s no reason not to pick this up.

01. Afterlife – 3:14
02. Invincible – 3:11
03. The Nexus – 3:16
04. Theory of Everything – 3:34
05. Stardust – 3:08
06. Burn With Me – 4:00
07. Mechanical Illusion – 4:01
08. Razorblade – 3:05
09. Future On Hold – 3:17
10. Electroheart – 3:48
11. Transhuman – 3:55
12. Infinity – 3:05
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Amaranthe (band)
Amaranthe

Digital review copy of this release provided by Spinefarm Records.