Label : Spinefarm Records/Universal
Review by Tony Cannella
The Swedish melodic metal band Amaranthe released their impressive self-titled debut in 2011. The album created a huge buzz in the metal world. Since then vocalist Elize Ryd has gone on to touring with Kamelot on their last tour. Now she returns to her main gig for their 2nd album entitled “The Nexus”.
Amaranthe continues to utilize three distinctive vocals. In addition to Elize’s angelic vocals, Amaranthe also utilizes clean male vocals (Jake E Berg) and harsh male vocals provided by Andy Solveström.
The opening duo of “Afterlife” and “Invincible” are both excellent, but my favorite track is the energetic “The Nexus”. The three vocal styles are used quite masterfully here and this is just a great, melodic song. Continue reading »
Interview by Alessandra CognettaMany of you remember her from Kamelot, but Elize Ryd‘s career is so rich I don’t think I can fit it all in an introduction. A talented artist and a really sweet person, she agreed to answer some questions for us about her latest effort with the unique band Amaranthe (their second album “The Nexus” will be in stores by the end of March, check their website to see when it’s out in your country!). You’re going to read about music, dancing, Eurovision (?!), bizarre incidents on tour and, well, I’m not gonna spoil anything, see for yourselves, you’re in for a truly interesting interview! Hello and welcome once again to Femme Metal, Elize! It’s always a pleasure to have you with us at the ‘zine. Amaranthe‘s new album is about to be released, and the band has a world live premiere planned for March 2nd in Sweden. How’s it going with the preparations for the event? What can we expect to see?
Thank you very much, it’s a pleasure for me as well! It is going great, on Monday the band are gonna meet in Gothenburg and start to rehears of the new songs. You will see Amaranthe in full and healthy shape, we all have had some time of the scene so it will be extremely fun to gather again and start this what will be an extremely intense and exiting year
Finnish Symphonic Power Metal band has announced their new vocalist (after the departure of Heidi Parvianen) and the recording of a compilation album, read the following statement from the band and mainmain Tuomas Seppälä :“Hey all. As announced recently we have spent quite some time with the search for a new singer. A pretty hard task, but we think we managed to find an extraordinarily talented singer. We are very proud to present you Capri! She is from Finland and a professional vocalist with a strong background: she has worked for a vast amount of different kinds of studio- and live-projects (musicals, lead and backing vocal recordings, live shows etc). Capri has a classical training but is still 100 percent a rock singer. We are sure she will bring AD to a new level by interpreting AD songs with a different kind of style and emotion.”
Here’s something more for you eyes and ears. A teaser video of Capri singing some AD songs.
And since we all thought that Capri can sing those “classic” AD songs with new and refreshing style and sound, we decided to re-record a selection of our best songs again with her. Also 75 % of the music stems are going to be re-recorded. Mikko P. Mustonen, who did orchestral arrangements for our previous album (“Circus Black”) will add some more colour to those songs with awesome orchestral additions. He’s also going to mix this album. Release dates, track listing and cover art are to be announced later.
Songwriter Tuomas Seppälä:“Founding Capri and getting her join AD is like a big dream coming true to me. Capri shares the same taste in music as I and that’s why is obvious that our new partnership is like “match made in heaven”. She really makes my compositions to shine like never before and I’m so impressed about her every way. I’m as excited as back then, when I found our original singer Heidi. Now my main focus is to make the whole world to hear about Capri and start composing new songs for her. But first, we’re all concentrating on recording this compilation album with Capri and then I’ll start working with new material for new studio album “
For infos check :
Interview by Si Smith
From the first chord to the final drumbeat, a Crimfall album is an aural spectacle to behold. Orchestrations and sound effects only serve to focus the listener on the music that is on offer: a rich tapestry of metal and gusto that transports the observer to another world, complete with swords and battles. But if this is escapism, than it is a guilty pleasure, as this album proves. Moving on into darker more wintry territory, it proves to touch on themes closer to our hearts, but still always that firm foundation of epic folk metal. I braved the cold and sat by the campfire with Helena to discuss the band’s progress so far…
First of all thanks so much for talking to us Helena, and a warm welcome from all at Femme Metal.
Thanks! It’s my pleasure.
I understand that the band began as a one-man project of guitarist Jakke Viitala. What did the music sound like at that early stage? How did you become involved in the whole scheme?
Jakke had heard my voice in my former band, Tacere‘s debut album, and he asked me to try out some vocals for the three song demo “Burning Winds”. The material was pretty much ready at that time, and when I came in, we only arranged some melodies to fit my voice better. The music itself wasn’t that far away from how it came out on our first full-length album, but of course some arrangements were made, and the overall production of “As the Path Unfolds…” sounds much richer than the first demo of the band.
“Burning Winds” was your first recorded opus – how did you feel the recording went for this early work?
I can only answer from my part, since the first evening we recorded my vocals was the first time I met Jakke, so I don’t know how the process was for the others. For me the situation was relaxed, laid back and I felt secure and appreciated. We didn’t do anything in a hurry, ‘though it only took a couple of evenings to get the demo vocals done. Jakke and his wonderful wife Heidi first welcomed me with their heart-warming manner of stuffing all their guests with delicious food and wine, and since I also loved Jakke’s music, I decided to continue working with him after he asked me to take part on a full-length album.
Two of the songs from this demo were re-recorded for the first full-length “As the Path Unfolds…”. Were these tracks changed much in transition?
The other one, “Where Waning Winds Lead”, has now a slightly different touch melody-wise, and it’s intro is completely recomposed. If I remember correctly, there weren’t such big changes for “Wildfire Season”, but if you guys really want to compare, I suggest hunting down one of our demos and checking the differences out yourselves.
There were many session musicians on the first album, including Trollhorn (Finntroll, Moonsorrow). How was it working with all these guys on the project?
Did they understand well the general idea behind what you were trying to create?I never actually saw any of our brilliant session musicians during the making of the album, nor can I tell you what exactly was Jakke‘s vision behind everything. “As the Path Unfolds…” came out as it did, and I hope our dear composer is also as satisfied with it as the rest of us are.
Your voice soars on this first cd – you are clearly very versatile in your approach to the vocal lines, what is your background in singing?
The flexibility of my voice was one of the main reasons Jakke contacted me in the first place. He wanted a singer, who could awaken many different kinds of moods and feelings, without getting stuck on one style only. I’ve been singing my whole life. I’ve done classical studies with many different teachers as well as I’ve taken vocal lessons from one of the best jazz singers in Finland, Sanni Orasmaa. Of course that all has molded my voice, but no-one has ever taught me to sing heavy metal, so on the other hand I’m self-taught. Distortion for example.. I’ve wondered how does one teach that kind of stuff to another! I learned to use distortion and that Janis Joplin-like rattle mostly on my own and by listening to good singers who tend to use it – men and women alike.
You and Mikko clearly have a great working relationship when it comes to your vocals. What’s it like when you guys hang out together outside of “work” times? What does Crimfall do to relax?
The whole band has a good, family-like vibe going on. We concentrate best on what we’re doing by not taking things too seriously and joking a lot – teasing each other like sisters and brothers do. We rarely meet outside gigs, band rehearsals and meetings, but when we do, it’s usually about celebrating and enjoying the life “the finnish way” – sauna, beer, good music and good company. Actually after our first rehearsals with our drummer Janne we all ended up just chilling out, going to the sauna and after that continuing our rehearsals butt naked between the times we sat in the sauna. (God I hope the guys won’t see this, ha ha..)
Some labelled you “soundtrack music” because of the orchestral parts and the sounds of horse, blacksmith, etc, in between tracks. How important were the “sound effects” to the overall meaning of the first album? Did you intend the album to seem like the soundtrack to some immense fantasy film?
You should definitely ask Jakke about this, since I have no clue about any overall meanings behind any of our music. I just create some of it myself, sing it and enjoy it. I think with Crimfall the music comes first, and all the sound effects remain extra. But our music wouldn’t be the same without the orchestrations and the choir parts, so in my belief they’re at least almost as important a part of our music as the guitar walls and the bass lines are. Of course the movie-like sound effects help the listener to reach the battle fields in a more detailed way, and I think that is a nice spice to our records.
Where do you feel that the band fits in in today’s metal scene? Do you pay much attention to the other bands that might be playing similar kinds of music to yourselves, or do you deliberately keep yourself separate so as not to be overly influenced?
Oh no, I hate to box music! We all listen to many different kinds of stuff, but also quite a lot of epic folk metal, which probably would be the closest genre to box us into.. What can I say: we love what we’re doing, so I think it’s quite logical that we enjoy music with similarities as well. I don’t think finnish bands are too eager to stalk one another – of course we’re interested if something big happens to a band we know people from, but otherwise we just mind our own business’.
The year 2011 has brought a new album in the shape of “The Writ of Swords”. Could you explain the title to us?
The new album is much darker and gloomier than the first one, and somehow the lyrical and the musical themes are much more hopeless as they were on “As the Path Unfolds…”. I think “The Writ of Sword” is an excellent name for an album handling all the horrors of war and the pain of the loss it brings with it.
The last track on “As the Path Unfolds…” was “Novembre” and the first track of the new album is “Dicembre”? Was this intended to follow on almost directly from the first album? Is there a direct thematic link between the two?
As you can hear, the musical theme of “Novembre” is also the main theme on “Dicembre”. And yes, as the winter follows the fall, so does our second album follow chronologically our debut album both thematically and musically.
In this interviewer’s humble opinion, your voice sounds particularly beautiful on the some of the more folky songs like “Frost Upon Their Graves”. If you could produce an album solely according to your own personal tastes and vocal preferences, what kind of album would it be?
I’d probably make something a cappella. In fact, I’ve had a dream of a vocal group for a long time. Something like finnish folk music or maybe even metal. But if I’ll ever find time to arrange stuff for a metal a cappella group, I’ll definitely make it very rough and try to produce also the drums only with human voices, unlike for example Van Canto does.
Now that the band is fully-formed, is this the way it will stay now? Are you all pretty settled in your roles within the band, or is there room for some flexibility?
This is the best possible “casting” for Crimfall. Five members is a great amount of people in a band and since we’ve all sort of found our places and accepted our responsibilities within our team, I don’t see us reforming anytime soon.
Since your music is so “epic”, how do fans respond at gigs? Do you get the viking helmets from the Finland connection, or maybe the more “serious” fan rather than the diehard mosher?
I’m glad to say we have both! And may I add, they’re equally pleasing to play to: the hard core fans in the front row, the nasty looking pit forming in the center of the crowd and last but not least the people standing a bit further away but still clearly enjoying our music, fists held up high.
I must say that “The Writ of Swords” is one album I would have loved to have on vinyl. Are there any plans to release this album on vinyl format?
We did discuss the vinyl possibility with our record company, and I’m happy to say they didn’t turn it down – as a matter of fact they brought the idea on the table. “When”, on the other hand, is a question I don’t know the answer to.
As we draw near the end of the interview, I have to ask about your plans for the future. Touring is a given and I hear you are supporting Turisas on their “Stand Up and Fight” tour. Did you meet these guys already when Olli played violin on this album? What are you looking forward to most about touring? What do you miss the most when touring?
Yes, we did support Turisas on some of their gigs on that massive tour: we got to perform in London, Nottingham, Vosselaar, Paris, Amsterdam, Hämeenlinna and Helsinki with them. And I tell you, it was a blast! Although only some of us had met Olli and Mathias Nygård while recording the violins and guest vocal parts, we all got along so well with them on tour. They and their awesome crew were just absolutely great! I think we’re looking forward to do some more touring with a band yet to be announced. While we tour abroad, we might miss our closest ones and the luxury of sleeping in our own beds, but at the same time the best thing in it is definitely to get to play for different kinds of crowds and people not from our cold country. It’s amazing to find such blood brothers and sisters who dig the metal we play. It’s a very uniting feeling!
Interview by Ed MacLaren
It’s been long considered that in most things two’s company and three’s a crowd but in the case of Swedish power metal outfit Amaranthe, three is merely the number of world-class vocalists they feature on their self-titled debut album. With clean female vocals along with clean and screamed male vocals, Amaranthe are anchored by a vocal prowess of which few bands can boast. Add the fact that the band weaves progressive, metalcore and techno elements along with a unique pop sensibility into it’s power metal onslaught, Amaranthe is a new breed of metal band that fascinates with its innovation. Femme Metal got to spend some time with female vocalist Elize Ryd and hear about the origins of Amaranthe, big success in Japan, and their recent European tour with Kamelot. Your self-titled debut “Amaranthe” was one of the most anticipated releases of the year so far and it looks like it exceeded all expectations. Did you ever think you’d get this kind of public response so quickly?No, because this is the first time I’ve released an album with me as one of the main composers and singers, so I didn’t know what to expect. But of course, this was exactly the kind of respond I was hoping for, and have been dreaming of ever since I started to work with this band. It looks like Olof Mörck and Jake E Lundberg put together their version of an all-star metal band – including your formidable vocal skills. How did you get the Amaranthe gig?
(Laughs) It’s pretty funny because I became friends with Jake E in 2004; we met at a bar in Gothenburg and he started to talk about his band, Dreamland, and that he needed a female vocalist to record the song “Fade Away”. We exchanged numbers and there the story began. I also got in contact with Olof through Jake and we became really good friends. Two years later I participated on his fourth album with Dragonland called “Astronomy”. At that time, I was still educating myself at a school called Performing Arts School – an artist school for professional singers and dancers – in Gothenburg. In 2007, I started to work at a cabaret but in my free time me, Jake and Olof often hooked up and wrote songs together. That year they decided to start a new band since they got a really good sound by mixing their musical ideas together. Their plan was to bring in guest vocalists, which included me among a lot of others as well as Andy (Within Y) to record a demo. After that day it just continued that way, and after a while they decided that they wanted to keep us as a part of the band.
The members of Amaranthe have an extremely diverse musical background. With that said, how did Olaf and Jake E sell the project to everyone?
They didn’t really sell the project; Olof is really good friends with Morten (Arcane Order, Soilwork, Hatesphere) so it was just natural to ask him to play the drums, and he said yes right away. They didn’t ask Andy if he wanted to be in the band, they just called him and said, “You’re in the band now, just so you know….” And he was like, OK. I must add that when I heard the first song, which was “Enter the Maze”, I fell in love with the sound so it wasn’t even a question for me if I wanted to be a part of it or not… We actually did our first photo shoot without any bass player, but for the debut show we felt that we really needed one and we didn’t want to do any audition for that since the rest of us came together as friends in the beginning. We really wanted it to stay that way so Andy asked his friend Johan if he wanted to join us at our next gig, and he did, and he was a perfect match.
Was it difficult to meld all those personalities and influences into a cohesive musical whole? No, not at all. Everybody got the chance to play exactly what they like; Olof created parts in the music where he could shine with his guitar, Andy could do his screaming, Jake could sing like Axl Rose, me do my pop/rock thing, Morten got free control over the drums and Johan playing his powerful bass.
Amaranthe has a very clean and modern metal sound punctuated by tight progressive hooks. How would you describe the finished product – the Amaranthe sound? I would describe it as you just did, clean and modern, but also new, powerful, energizing and positive! Did you ever wonder what the final musical outcome was going to be at any point? No. Since I’ve been a part of writing the songs I just got a lot of ideas based on what Jake and Olof created. So it has always been fun, and easy to write, since I could hear the results already from the beginning inside my head. The question was if it was going to end up that way in the end – it mostly did but sometimes even better after everybody else put their hearts into it.
For a metal band with progressive and even some metalcore elements, the music on Amaranthe is very accessible. It could bridge a lot of genres and open you up to a very large fan base. Was that an intentional decision by the band or was it really a happy product of the band’s diverse musical background? It was a really happy product of the band! I think the reason for why everybody wanted to build something with this band was because everybody got the chance to play their own taste of music – which every one of us really got room for. And that’s also a big part of our sound. You have a really good point there; I’m very happy that all of us like the same kind of things but I guess that’s just how it ends up when you write music together with like-minded friends. Despite the huge number of bands the members of Amaranthe are involved in, Amaranthe doesn’t feel like a side project – it has real long-term possibilities. Do you and the band feel the same way? Yes, we do! When we got our first record deal offer, they had to ask themselves if this was the one band that they wanted to make a priority. Well, of course it’s hard to decide since we had no clue how it would turn out but everybody seemed convinced that they wanted to have Amaranthe as their first choice. For me personally, it was hard to decide since I had to quit my job as a musical artist. But since my dream has always been to tour, see the world and perform with my own material, it was not really a hard decision to at least give it a shot.
How did the recording sessions progress? Olof is a self-confessed detail geek, isn’t he? Did you do most of your composing in the studio or was it mapped out well before hand?
In Amaranthe, the vocalists almost outnumber the rest of the band! That’s a very unique sound dynamic. Does it give the band a distinctive musical chemistry – something different to let Amaranthe stand out?Oh yeah, I think so, we singers are a different breed. (Laughs) We really have to think differently from a guitarist or a bass player, for example, not at least when we go on tour. We have to stay healthy and in good shape to be able to sing. No late nights and booze for us so it feels really good to not be the only boring one! (Laughs) Well maybe it works for Andy; he just gets that little extra rasp in his voice.
There’s been a lot of online buzz around the band for a while now but Amaranthe seems to have really struck a chord with the Japanese. Is it true that you’ve been out-selling Lady Gaga on the import charts over there?
Yes that’s actually true! (Laughs) Insane isn’t it!? We topped all sale and import lists the month our album was released.
What is it about Amaranthe that the Japanese are responding to? Most of all they respond to our strong melodies and the catchy refrains. The whole concept has been received with open and enthusiastic arms. They really appreciate the new metal sound. Maybe Japan is just ahead of the curve when it comes to your music? Do you think that Amaranthe’s music will resonate in time just as well with the rest of the world? Maybe world domination only happens one country at a time… (Laughs) That sounds like a plan. After being there we saw how hard our record company Universal had been working with promos, commercials, spreading our name through radio – TV’s also been extremely good. And that, of course, has been a huge help to our success. So if every country would work like Japan, it could lead to world domination pretty fast I guess. (Laughs)
Your touring slot supporting Kamelot didn’t hurt – not to mention your solo turn as the featured female vocalist during the Kamelot set. How did you get involved in performing with Kamelot? Jake E used to work for Kamelot back in 2008. At that time they became friends and after hearing about Amaranthe they listened to our music on MySpace. Both Roy Kahn and Thomas Youngblood really liked the music and I think it was in that moment they got the idea to bring me as a backup singer on their tour through Europe. They simply sent an e-mail to Jake and asked them if I was available, which I was since I just quit my job. How has that touring experience impacted your own musical outlook? Well, I think I’ve realized the power of music by touring around the world. Before, I wrote music for my own sake because it made me happy like a need to express other feelings. Now I have seen that the songs you’ve been making in your livingroom actually can make other people feel something. I’ve been to live shows before but to see the audience from the stage is a totally different thing. I did my first big tour with Kamelot in 2009 and that was the first time I met real metal fans: it was unbelievable to see their response. I was shocked at first and pretty shy when we walked out after the show because I wasn’t used to that kind of attention. But after a month touring and doing a dozen big festival gigs like Wacken, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park during the summer, I learned a lot. I’m happy they gave me that experience. To see people smile and cry, that really touches me and now for future writing I’ll have all these people in mind which really gives me inspiration. I’ve also got a lot more knowledge and a reminder that we all are one. I meet people I would never have had the chance to meet if it wasn’t for the music. That feels unreal for me to be honest. Considering how close you are with Kamelot it must have been a shock to hear that Roy Khan was leaving the band. You were in close quarters with the band for such an extended period of time – was it something that you saw coming?
No not at all. It was as big a shock for me as it was for everybody else! It was a sad summer when we had to cancel all the shows in the U.S. – for me, the band but most of all for the fans. At first I thought he would come back for the European tour we did. But as everybody knows he didn’t. A big praise to all those who showed up still supporting the band. The tour became a huge success. Fabio Lione did a phenomenal job so he’s also going to join Kamelot on the upcoming U.S tour which starts on the 26th of August in Atlanta.
After recording the album and completing your first tour, what’s surprised you the most about being a “big rock star”? Was there anything that made you rethink what you’ve gotten yourself into?
(Laughs) No not yet. But if my career had began with all this I would probably think like that. But I’ve worked my way up pretty slowly for a long time which I think is healthy. I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little girl so now it feels more like a relief to finally be able to do what I feel like I was born to do.
You, Jake E, and Andy Solveström onstage together makes for a very active stage show. Do you have to map out your own area of the stage so you don’t run into each other? (Laughs) If it was up to me I would have done that, I’m used to working that way, so yes, I actually tried to make a small kind of choreography in every song, like, “You stand there, and then I sing my part, you step to the sides, Jake appears in the middle, we walk out and give Olof space for his guitar solo, then we go back in and stand in a row and then…” and so on but they refused. Well, after playing a few shows now I guess it’s not that necessary. We can feel each other and give each other space on the stage – that’s no problem. But maybe I’ll get my will through in the future. (Laughs)
How would you describe the Amaranthe live show for those new to the band?
Our live show is, as you now know, not choreographed. It’s like a party and we improvise a lot. It’s all about the energy, great music and passion! In the future we, I, hope to bring in a lot more influences to the show, like maybe dancers, a choir, a light show and much more when we make our headlining shows in the future – like Rammstein and Kiss types of things. (Laughs) That would be a dream!
With you being so up-close and personal with the Kamelot guys on stage, were you able to learn any tricks you could “steal” and take back to Amaranthe?
Sure, they have a lot of tricks; I can’t tell though… Just kidding! (Laughs) That must be all the influences they put in their show, like the theatrical intros, a choir, a belly dancer. I think that was a really cool mix with the metal music. I’d like to do that in our show some time, if the boys allow me to decide… They also gave me a tips to wear ear plugs on stage. But now I have an in-ear system which is even better. I want to be able to hear my grandkid’s voices in the future… (Laughs)
Now that the Kamelot tour is finished, what’s next on the tour agenda? Japan must be salivating for Amaranthe to come and perform live. Not to mention the Americas…
Next up is Bloodstock in the U.K, then I’m going on a one month U.S. tour with Kamelot featuring Simone Simons. On the 15th of October, Amaranthe is going back to Japan, we’re going to play at Loud Park! Soon after that, Amaranthe has a nine week long tour through Europe. Can’t tell you more than that right now. But keep your ears and eyes open because more info is coming in the very near future…
(Famous) Last words?
Good questions! We played with Symphony X a few months ago in Tunisia, and the drummer, Jason Rullo, gave a tip in an interview to young musicians which I think was awesome. He said, “Practice creates luck”. Keep on rocking people!
Photos by Johan Carlén
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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