Amaranthe have been in a state of perpetual motion since 2014’s experimental juncture, Massive Addictive. The Swedes have sometimes found themselves inaccurately lumped in with Europe’s symphonic fare, but other than their penchant for grandiosity, and singer Elize Ryd’s Nightwish connections (she infamously stepped in for ex-Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon at a gig in 2012), the association is specious. Instead, Amaranthe have spent the last half a decade gradually augmenting a divisive yet vivid blend of power metal, pop and euphoric EDM with every album, eventually nailing a skyscraper-sized sound on 2018’s Helix.
Having carved their own niche, Amaranthe seem content to bed into it for a while rather than continuing to chip away at the rockface, and Manifest picks up where Helix left off. This is about as sparkly as metal gets – the only way Adrenaline could get more Eurovision is if Graham Norton had popped up and started bellowing the chorus. Fearless, Make It Better and the crystalline Viral revolve around gigantic, cheesy hooks, sustained by a three-pronged attack from vocalists Elize, Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson and Nils Molin with plenty of metal crunch.
The band have dipped their toes into rapping before – see Helix’s jarring cut, GG6 – and someone really should have talked the band out of having another go before they recorded the abominable Boom!. The album finishes on a high, though, with Do Or Die, an excellent collab with ex-Arch Enemy singer Angela Gossow, in her first vocal appearance since 2011, that adds grit to a radiant shower of laser synths and rippling riffs.
No doubt, Amaranthe are not for everyone and this album will do nothing to hook listeners not already onboard with their gleaming razzmatazz. But for those already invested, this is the band’s strongest effort yet, relishing in a sound that they’ve honed, and now they can own.