Truth be told I was NOT a fan of the last AMARANTHE album Maximalism. Quite frankly I thought it was fucking awful, and it’s one I don’t care to revisit ever again. However, I am happy to report that there is a new record from the band, and it has arrived in the form of Helix (out now, Spinefarm Records), which is much closer to The Nexus (my favorite!) in both style and substance. Elize Ryd sounds like a woman renewed of purpose, and new clean vocalist Nils Molin from DYNAZTY fits very well into the band. Another thing you’ll notice is that the songs are much better crafted this time around. I know the last disc charted very well, but this one has the feel of a band who is hungry again…maybe I’m crazy, who knows?
So let’s dig in. Right away “The Score” sets a tone for the rest of the album, and that tone is “AMARANTHE ain’t fuckin’ around on this one, boys and girls!” Unclean vocalist Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson growls with such ferocity, and when you combine him with Ryd and Molin in a Hot Potato type of delivery the results are interstellar, my boy (Someone, SOMEDAY will finally get that reference)! So we’re off and running, right? “365” was the first single released and this was the exact moment I knew the band had righted the ship. I could just feel the energy in the group, and I remember telling my one buddy as much. Great choice for a single!
Guitarist/keyboardist Olof Mörck has crafted some seriously sick melodies for this record, and the rhythm section of Johan Andreassen (bass) and Morten Løwe Sørensen (drums) absolutely wrecks shop, especially during “Inferno.” This is a track that Ryd well and truly owns, and it’s one of the album’s best. “Countdown” is another one, and again Ryd goes to town, as do her fellow vocalists. Title track “Helix” showcases an excellent push and pull between all three vocalists, but it also lets us hear just how well Molin meshes with the other two, in case anyone hadn’t noticed already. “Dream” is a slow grinder that provides a nice change of pace while also managing to be a head-bobber that fans will totally dig. It is also Wilhelmsson’s song, no matter what.
“GG6” is one of the record’s heaviest tracks, with venom being spewed everywhere, while “Breakthrough Starshot” initially had me going, “What the fuck is this??” and not in a good way. But after I let the song play out a bit I was all in. Such fun! “My Haven” has one of the best musical arrangements on the entire thing, and if this song isn’t in live setlists all tour then someone’s being a stupidhead. The boys playing the instruments go completely batshit on “Iconic” and the three singers have no choice but to follow them, which is awesome. Molin gets his moment in the sun during ballad “Unified” and Ryd also shines.
Closer “Momentum” picks up a car Hulk-style and fucking throws it at you. What a great way to end this disc! If you have a gym playlist, put this bitch on it! Hey, two years ago I was wondering if AMARANTHE had another good record left in them. Right now I’m trying to figure out where they might fit in my Top Albums of 2018 list with this one!! Listen people, if you’re on the fence about this band, go ahead and swing your leg over, and enjoy these tasty tunes. Helix is a fucking great album, and that’s all there is to it!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Score”, “Countdown”, “My Haven”, “Iconic”, “Momentum”, “Inferno”