Sweden's resident power-pop-metalcore-symphonic-cinematic (not an actual sub-genre of metal, but they're hard to define, right?) metallers Amaranthe are low-key one of the busiest bands in the business. With a relentless touring schedule and six studio albums pumped out in a 10-year period, Amaranthe go full-bore with their sixth studio record, Manifest, available October 2nd through Nuclear Blast.
Full of chugging guitars, soaring tri-vocals and anthemic ear-worm singles of power and perseverance that are sure to become infectious to fans, the six piece outfit are operating at the heights of their larger-than life potential, 12 years since their inception.
Vocalist Elize Ryd caught up with Metal Injection to talk all things Manifest, the groups' cinematic approach to music videos and performance, working with members of Battle Beast, Apocalyptica, Dragonland, and Butcher Babies on their new album, creating inspiring songs with a message, and their collaboration with former Arch Enemy siren Angela Gossow, her first musical performance in almost a decade.
On Band Outlook During COVID-19
We are doing kind of good I have to say. We're not freaking out. We are actually super happy that we are releasing an album at least. Otherwise it wouldn't be much happening, so that's something. And I'm very excited about the future. I think this is the wakeup call for a lot of people.
Maybe people, even us, will realize how important we are for each other. All of us are enabled to keep this thing going, otherwise it would just die. It's different from other professions, where people can still keep their job. There's no one specific suffering in that sense, staying totally unsocialized. We've built our past 12 years around this lifestyle and now it's just suddenly gone. So of course, it is a very, very big change.
On Releasing Six Albums in Nine Years
It's something we have been talking about within the band actually, especially me and Olaf who writes all the songs together and produced the arrangements and makes the music. And we don't really understand how somebody who is a musician full time could stay away from writing songs and recording albums.
To us that's the more interesting question, because we love to write songs. I do it still. I do it even if there is not an album planned, and Olaf is the same. So to us it's a privilege that labels want to release albums this often.I mean, it would be terrible for us if they would be like, no, no, no, you released an album just two years ago, you have to wait for another five years. I don't know what that would be like. We could survive on just touring because it's so amazing to play live. But then that's part of the thing that keeps us going, staying fresh and energetic and enjoying life because we're able to have this.
On Cinematic Music Videos
We have very specific characters in the band. I am a music artist on paper, so to speak. Johan, the bass player, he also actually did go to school for acting. Olaf, he loves to become larger than life. We grew up in very different areas in Sweden, but I think we have and came from the same kind of environments where we were actually allowed to be loud and colorful. We didn't really fit it, so to speak, but we had an expression of attitude. It was just a very big relief to us because we always decide how we want our videos to look like, obviously. Also we found the right kind of people who really appreciated that kind of different angle, especially when it comes to metal.
Patric Ullaeus, for example, he recorded a lot of metal bands and he was so happy when he got to work with us, because actually in the past he got to do a totally different kind of music videos. So he kind of got inspired, we got inspired and he got even more inspired. We felt like, why hold back when we can just take this opportunity and make what we love the most? And obviously I didn't want to stand in the video and be boring. I want to act, even though we're not professional actors, but at least you can go into some kind of different character and visualize an emotion and make it even more strong. It's been something that we are very fond of. We really like to do stuff our way. Nobody forced us to do that. It was actually kind of nice that we had this kind of creative freedom in the beginning because nobody knew where the band was going because we were kind of different. It was mostly based on what we believe and based on joy.
I think everybody around us also realized what we are and they see us in this very specific way. For example, when it comes to the "Viral" video, it was actually Marcus Overbeck who made the scripts. And we are not too late on seeing that this is a super great idea to reflect on what's going on right now, going into our personal state of mind, but also showing that we can make it in the end. We're not giving up because we're in lockdown. I think we can take it even further. It would be extremely interesting to work with all kinds of video directors. There is a lot of very talented people here in Sweden.
But that's part of the fun of it, that we're not scared to stand out. And yeah, we love these cinematic themes. I love movies. So let's see what can happen in the future. If somebody has an idea anyone can reach out to us. We're up for anything.
On Experimenting With Genres
To us we base everything song-wise on metal, and then we have these elements that we put in. We have tried out a lot of different ways to present our music. I mean, most of the things happens in mix. And that's also a little bit of what we try to state with this album. There is of course always a guitar, but the feeling people get from putting a label on things is how loud is the guitars and the heavier instruments? And that makes it more metal or more heavy. But it's always been there, it's just a matter of how the songs are written and which instruments and which elements are most in focus. So on this album we actually did write the songs mainly based on the guitars.
To us it's a very natural process. It's so hard to explain since this is what we've done since the beginning … to us we made this thing from the beginning, that it would be so fun to take metal and put them into the structure of what is called pop and see what happens. We got very excited about it. We thought it was the exact perfect length where you didn't get too much and you didn't get too little of the material. We still get our points out through these three minutes (songs), and we want to keep it effective. We don't put limits on ourselves. I wanted to make a twelve minutes song just for fun, but for some reason it turns out this way because I guess that's how we're used to working.
On Guest Artists on Manifest
It actually started out with Angela (Gossow). We thought we are three singers, we are not allowed to have guests because that would be too much. Until Angela appeared and she was like, why didn't you have any guests on previous albums? I mean, we released five albums, it wouldn't be impossible to invite somebody on the third or fourth album. We didn't think about it because we already have so many singers. But then we did that collaboration and it was amazing. And for me and Olaf it's extremely nice since we write songs, and we have been writing songs for twelve years for two male singers and one female singer, myself. It was nice to take these vocal melodies and the arrangements and hear a different voice on them. It's extremely enjoyable.
And when it comes Perttu (Kivilaakso), I love Apocalyptica, and they're one of my favorite bands for a very long time. So of course in my mind it's one of the most amazing things. It's been so great to be connected to these kinds of people and not only have personal friendships, but also on an album that will last forever, hopefully. Heidi (Shepherd of Butcher Babies) is doing a small appearance on "Boom". We just kind of opened up the door for inviting people and that became so pleasant to us. That's something I think we would be open to continuing, because we don't ever feel like it's our territory and we don't allow anyone in. We love differences.
It's also a nice thing, too, because we are a family. We love each other and we appreciate each other even if we all have different styles like, say, with Sabaton. They just loved our sound and they wanted us to make a cover of "82nd All The Way". And that also opened up doors that this is so fun and we can do something that they don't do. We don't really compete with each other because we're from totally different worlds, but we still share the same stages and the same lifestyle and work as hard. It's definitely super, super fun for us to feel like we have a family. Sisters and brothers all over the place.
On Working With Angela Gossow on 'Do or Die'
We were very privileged and honored to have her willing to step back into the scene again after being gone for, I think nine years. I was lucky enough to see her on a festival live in the beginning of her career. And I was amazed by this woman. She's a pioneer. She's inspired a lot of people inside and outside of the genre, of course. So that was probably the most amazing thing for me personally.
It's almost strange because my brother was a very big Arch Enemy fan and he really appreciated her. And he actually introduced her to me something like 20 years ago in the 90s. So to me it's weird, but that's how life is I guess, and that's how we view the world. It's just like the most unpredictable things just happen. And also the things you dream about the most, they do happen. One of my biggest dreams was to have Angela as our manager, which she now is. It's amazing. It's hard to explain how things happen, but for some reason they happen. To work with her, she's a super badass. She's Angela Gussow and she's an icon.
On Creating Music With A Positive Message
I think now it makes even more sense, actually, because in the past it could be a little bit like floating, so to speak. You know that some people are suffering with something, but you don't know exactly what it is. I've experienced, of course, from my personal life a lot of hard stuff. And that's one of the things, one of the elements I use when I write music.
I also always thought that a strong message with a positive vibe makes maybe somebody hear the message and understand what it's about. Especially in metal, it's a lot of harsh attitudes. And there's these bands that also help us in very hard times. My brother, for example, he was in a doom metal band. It was gross and very, very, very dark. Extremely dark. So I'm the opposite of him.
I think it's a feeling of wanting to compensate for the things that you feel is missing in the music you listen to. That's how me and Olaf thought about it because we're like OK, everything is great, but we want to compensate for the things that we feel is missing. And that's what we're trying to do, and that's why it feels extremely good. These two videos and the songs, they are a positive message. It's about being different, having different beliefs and us being a band, missing the road. We are also in lockdown like everybody else is. We're the same people. We're all made of blood, bones, veins and muscles. The things going on in our heads is just something that society creates. And from our perspective we want to touch the subjects, but then show them from a different perspective, and our vision on different topics.