The Catalyst

It has been a long four years since the release of Manifest back in 2020, but Swedish melodic metallers AMARANTHE are finally back in full force with their seventh studio album The Catalyst, regaling us once again with their trademark holy trinity of vocalists and their infectious blend of metal, pop and electronica. If you have ever listened to an AMARANTHE record before, you probably know what to expect: crystal clear production, heavy riffs, dynamic vocals and hooks galore. I’m pleased to say that The Catalyst delivers on all fronts.

I cannot imagine a more fitting start to this record than the title track – what an absolute banger! The Catalyst is the ideal choice to represent all of the elements you can expect to hear throughout the album. Clean vocalists Elize Ryd and Nils Molin are on top of their game, while Mikael Sehlin, growler and newest member of the band, proves he is more than up to the challenge of handling the harsh vocal duties. The sound is both vibrant and heavy, with long-time collaborator Jacob Hansen perfecting the production, plus we hear the first of many guitar solos from Olof Mörck. Upon my first listen, the uplifting chorus stayed running through my head long after the end of the last track, and it’s still the one I keep coming back to.

But it is certainly not the only catchy tune here – Liberated, Ecstasy and Resistance, along with many of the previously released singles, all feel like quintessential AMARANTHE songs. Interference is notably heavier, but equally memorable. Each track is wonderfully crafted and impeccably produced.

Most fans will have already heard Damnation Flame, but it stands in a way that warrants a special mention – the symphonic touches and twinkling keyboards feel like an homage to Nightwish at their finest. Breaking The Waves creates a similar feel with its symphonic bridge and ethereal highs from both Elize and Nils, evoking images of sirens calling from the sea. Stay A Little While, the ballad of the album, showcases another stellar vocal performance. The song starts off with piano alone before gradually bringing in the rest of the band and growing in power. Fading Like A Flower, a cover of the Roxette classic (also covered by fellow electronic metallers Volturian on their debut), is a fun, energetic way to close out the album.

While there are some unique touches here and there, nothing on The Catalyst is truly groundbreaking – but there didn’t really need to be. AMARANTHE has truly perfected their formula, and while I can think of other bands that try to emulate their style, no one else comes close to their level of catchiness and quality. Fans’ enjoyment of The Catalyst will likely hinge on how well they gel with the individual songs on offer, but I am sure most will find plenty to like – I know I have definitely found some new favourites!

Samantha Shears