Review Summary: It screams oh so bad, but it’s oh so great! One third corset metal.
It’s not every day that you find an album that is filled with gimmicks and cheesy sections that proves itself to be a quality listen, even if the two attributes mentioned are in fact detrimental Amaranthe’s The Nexus
, sustains itself in a very memorable way. More often than not albums filled with synth, breakdowns and dual male and female vocals that harmonize and play off each other are usually met with a high level of distaste. Fortunately The Nexus
proves just how this preconception can be misplaced. Amaranthe are often noted for blending pop features with melodic death metal stereotypes and the result is memorable, fantastic in its head-bobbing catchiness. Since debuting in 2011 with a self-titled effort, Amaranthe have only built on that foundation two years later with, The Nexus
. Having toured with the likes of Kamelot, the comparison between acts is fitting. Think for a while; remove the synth, screams and female vocals, things begin to sound very similar, this shows that the foundation was there and has been built on, layer by layer.
The album’s best features come in the triple vocal effort, whilst cleans are shared they are predominately taken by Elize Ryd, whose vocal register matches that of a female fronted rock/metal band but also stretch just a little out of a comfortable zone bouncing off her male vocal counterparts, preventing the record from sounding too same-y. In contrast, the mid-range screams are taken by Andreas Solveström which despite doing nothing in the way of harsh vocals provides enough force to keep this record’s metal roots. Bordering on power metal, pop culture and melodic death metal does have a few constraints, one of which is balance. Make no mistake, what Amaranthe do, they do well. When combining typical features of pop with the varying melodic death metal sections every so often the transitions will clash at an instrumental level. The synth especially is used too much, seemly added for the hell of it. The Nexus
seems to cover a lot of ground but will at times become slightly overbearing as each component comes together. Most of the time, the result fits together perfectly, as for the rest - it’s like a child holding a puzzle piece in the air not knowing where it fits, confusing at the best of times.
With twelve tracks finishing at a reasonable forty one and a half minutes, The Nexus
is an easy listen. Feel good track after feel good track bulk out the album with a context of ‘believe in you’ and ‘I am invincible’ provides a relatable lyrical context for the casual listener. That’s not to say Amaranthe don’t dabble in a serious topic or two (see ‘Burn With Me’ and ‘Future On Hold’) but the album is largely set with an uplifting atmosphere bouncing with pop energy. Even with all the sound combinations, Amaranthe still manage to fit in some tasty guitar solos. Usually a combination of sweep/shred joy notes ring above the rest of the instrumental sections entering the limelight and remaining even after the last melodic note has faded. Needless to say, the albums a rather short lived on these short-ish tracks but there are more licks than breakdowns and as a result the album as a whole benefits. Overall, Amaranthe’s The Nexus
, is an excursion in blending some rather cheesy features together without fluffing up the album with tedious clichés. The album isn’t going to please everyone, but it is a catchy display of musical ingenuity, willing to try something that may have been done before, but in this case it’s done well.