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AMARANTHE The Catalyst

By Halo, Heavenly Contributor
Thursday, February 15, 2024 @ 8:15 AM

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The Catalyst

Nuclear Blast

Just when I think AMARANTHE can't get any better, they surpass all expectations! The Catalyst is their latest album since 2020's Manifest. I've been addicted to this band since hearing The Nexus back in 2012. I've had the privilege of reviewing several of their albums and YES, I am biased. I have to say without a doubt I believe this album is the best thus far. Guitarist Olof Morck amazes me with all his compositions and genius ideas he brings to fruition. Vocalists Elize Ryd and Nils Molin complement each other perfectly as always with their vocal ranges. Johann Andreassen and Olof on guitars are never less than fantastic. Morten Lowe Sorensen on drums is phenomenal and in my opinion one of the best drummers in metal, metal core...whatever you prefer to call this genre of music. Mikael Sehlin has joined the band as the unclean vocalist, growler. We do miss Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson but understand why he decided to leave. Mikael toured with AMARANTHE in 2015 so he was not new to the band. When called to ask if he wanted to come back, his response was "Fuck yeah, absolutely". "We knew he was the guy 100%," Morck said.

I do like to remind readers and fans that AMARANTHE doesn't like to be put in one musical category or genre and after you've gotten to know their music, you quickly understand. This album is a testament as to why they cannot be put into one.

"The Catalyst is the most conceptually coherent piece of work in AMARANTHE's storied history. Dedicated to notions of transformation and revelation, it delves deeper than any previous album. We've done these things before, but we've never been as theatrical as we have this time. In fact, we all questioned whether we went too far this time, but I also figured that this band was always this way. Literally the first seconds of our first video was a big explosion! But yes, The Catalyst is more theatrical than ever. We've never been symphonic or orchestral before, but this time we just thought why not? Because we can! The key to this album is that we let go of the boundaries and decided to do something even more adventurous." - Olof Morck.

From the first few tracks on this album, I got a feeling that the 80's and 90's had some influence. The added pop synth, dare I say techno sound in the intro to "Re-Vision" was so reminiscent of the 80's/90's MTV video days. I was hooked. The video has quite the prodigious, militant feel, like combat with Transformers. The title track "The Catalyst", holy shit, total gut punch growl. Hello Mikael! "Damnation Flame" is about transformation. The video is very Anne Rice, Interview With A Vampire-esque. I am a total fan of vampire themed projects, so I was naturally enthralled. Maybe I'll coin this one as goth metal. The entire production was on fire with gorgeous styling. They all looked sexy as hell. One of my favorite tracks on this album, no shocker, is the ballad "Stay A Little While". The intro is a beautiful piano composition which me reminded me of "Crystalline" from the Manifest album and "Endlessly" from Maximalism. I am a sucker for ballads. Elize's vocals along with Nils on "Stay A Little While" are just gorgeous. I cannot say a bad thing about this album. I fell in love with "Fading Like A Flower" all over again. It brought back some great memories as it's a cover of another favorite Swedish band, ROXETTE. The 1991 hit was on their album Joyride and I had this tape and listened to it so much the print on the tape faded. Per Gessle wrote and produced this song and when I started listening to the track on The Catalyst, I knew it immediately. AMARANTHE did this song beautifully. Marie would be proud as I'm sure Per is.

Olof Morck expanded on his thoughts about The Catalyst. "Sometimes there are watershed moments in your life, and they can change everything. It's about realization. It could be a relationship, a vacation, or a near-death experience, but it's a catalyst that really wakes you up and makes you think, 'Shit, what have I been doing?' All the songs are about this, but in totally different ways. It's all about change. Every song talks about change from a different perspective."

I look forward to seeing this album performed live in concert. I think this album will be topping charts in several categories once the entire album is released. Patick Ullaeus should not go unnoticed for the production and work he does for AMARANTHE. He is sensational at what he does. The videos are amazing. There are 13 tracks on this album. Everyone will have their own favorites they play on repeat. I know once released I'll have a couple on repeat for sure. Please check out this album when it's released on 2/23/24. I implore you to see this band live. In no way will you be disappointed.

5.0 Out Of 5.0

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