Amaranthe – The Catalyst (Nuclear Blast)

Friday, 16th February 2024
Rating: 9.5/10

Considering the usual output of Amaranthe, it’s a bit surprising to look back and see that The Catalyst is the first full-length from the band since jumping to Nuclear Blast Records for 2020’s Manifest. Well, not as surprising considering that COVID stalled a lot of releases in its wake, but pretty consistent two year release schedule almost doubled the time. So considering the band underwent yet another line-up change with new growler Mikael Sehlin replacing long-time member Henrik “GG6” Englund Wilhelmsson, there were a lot of cards on the table and plenty of expectations for the album to live up to. In a nutshell, if you’ve enjoyed Amaranthe in the past, you are inevitably going to love The Catalyst.

If Manifest saw Amaranthe really lock in the best moments of their sound and attempt to perfect them, The Catalyst is simply continuing further down that path. The band’s cybermetallic mix of modern, heavy riffs, danceable beats, and the bombastic tri-vocal approach is one that people have truly come to ‘love or loathe’ over the years, and the inventive spirit of it shouldn’t be understated. At the end of the day, it’s hard not to state that those who listen to and enjoy Amaranthe are looking for something that’s fun to listen to. That’s what The Catalyst delivers, and on a scale that seems a bit more mature than some previous works. There’s no track that pushes the boundaries in ways that some might call ‘cringe’ even if this scribe enjoyed them (see Manifest‘s “Boom!1” or Maximalism‘s “That Song”), so instead we just get a solid, bloodpumping succession of tracks, with a gorgeous ballad tossed in at the midway point. Said ballad, “Stay a Little While” triumphantly exudes that power and intimacy that the other melodic greats that they have crafted have, with a great dynamic between Elize Ryd and Nils Molin and almost Disney-esque magic filling the air around them.

On the more energetic side of things, there’s the rhythmic and groovy “Ecstasy” with high-energy electronic beats and chugging riffs that merge together with some rapid fire barks from Mikael Sehlin and the thrilling, danceable chorus from Ryd and Molin swirling over the rumbling instrumentation. “Resistance” brings that uptempo energy and pulls it into some of the heaviest stuff that the band has done, with Sehlin doing some pretty aggressive growls that push the band into more furious territory in a rousing way that will have you shouting along and headbanging after one listen.   “Insatiable” slows down that tempo and augments the groovy riffs, also firing off a catchy solo from Olof Mörck before the song ends. In the electronic department, “Re Vision” hits the more experimental territory of the album, with pulsating beats and heavy dance rhythms taking center stage as Ryd flexes those diva-esque vocal muscles she’s so strong at with added flair.

The Catalyst isn’t a revolution for Amaranthe’s sound, and nor does it really need to be. Having long cemented their status as bringing forth an innovative and unique take on metal that draws from many outside sources, they simply continue to tweak and one-up what they’ve already accomplished. The hunger (pun intended) hasn’t diminished over the years, but rather continues to fuel the band’s hybrid ‘dance metal’ fusion into the stratosphere with thrilling and addictive energy. Amaranthe are the champs of this sound, and The Catalyst just acts as the latest example as to why more people are drawn to their sound.

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