"The album’s biggest talking point is its ability to deliver in the face of a major line-up change." Amaranthe's The Catalyst sees one of metal's most unique bands smoothly sail into their next chapter

Despite a potentially destabilising lineup shift, Amaranthe are as strong as ever

Amaranthe in 2024
(Image: © Press)

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You have to hand it to Amaranthe. When they debuted in 2009 as a three- headed pop-metal singing machine, they were an acquired taste, but they’ve won a legion of fans by deftly sticking to a winning formula with enough reinvention to keep their
music fresh. 2020’s Manifest pushed their boundaries towards a heavier, djentier sound, and on their seventh album Amaranthe have glided into yet another new guise that promises to be “more adventurous than ever”.

However, where Manifest paid dividends with its thrilling bombast, The Catalyst is surprisingly restrained. Granted, there are moments when it showcases its dramatic edge with aplomb. Damnation Flame is one instance, drawing on harpsichord and orchestral flourishes for an exhilarating ride. Likewise, Breaking The Waves, an ethereal and undulating anthem supercharged by synth and classical motifs, is a superb demonstration of the band’s capability to blend electronics and layered instrumentation with clean and harsh vocals. But rather than a continuous thread, the theatrical elements are sporadic, leaving some of the album to retreat into its comfort zone of Eurovision-friendly power metal.

Stylistics aside, the album’s biggest talking point is its ability to deliver in the face of a major line-up change. Waving goodbye to their long-standing growler Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson – who we are assured left on amicable terms to focus on his family – Amaranthe welcome new harsh vocalist Mikael Sehlin to the fold, and his contribution is immediately felt. Storming in on the title track, Mikael’s snarls, growls and fried vocals are a perfect match for Elize Ryd and Nils Molin’s spotlight-stealing tones. The threesome work in harmony on the vocoder-driven Re Vision, while Mikael’s serrated rap on the Rob Zombie-groove-ridden Ecstasy is the track’s driving force, rounding off yet another Amaranthe album that feels fresh and energetic.

The Catalyst is out this Friday, February 23, via Nuclear Blast. You can pick up an exclusive Amaranthe Metal Hammer bundle here

Holly Wright

With over 10 years’ experience writing for Metal Hammer and Prog, Holly has reviewed and interviewed a wealth of progressively-inclined noise mongers from around the world. A fearless voyager to the far sides of metal Holly loves nothing more than to check out London’s gig scene, from power to folk and a lot in between. When she’s not rocking out Holly enjoys being a mum to her daughter Violet and working as a high-flying marketer in the Big Smoke.