Amaranthe @ The Islington Academy, London

17th March, 2015
Review and Photography by Graham Hilling

With the release of the latest album, “Massive Addictive”, Amaranthe are back on the road touring throughout Europe. The Independent Voice went along to see how the new material sounds live….

Arriving early at the venue, it’s good to see a queue formed already. This evening looks like it could be quite fun, with youngsters Santa Cruz and Engel supporting. Santa Cruz are from Helsinki, Finland. They play solid rock, think maybe Skid Row or Guns ‘n Roses with a bit more of an edge to it.

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz

With a setlist almost exclusively taken from their just released, self titled album they hit the stage running. Tight as any band I’ve ever heard they set about working the crowd and winning them over. And for the most part they succeed!

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz

They 100% look the part with poodle metal hair and a cockiness on the stage that belies their youthful appearance. Well founded cockiness mind, Santa Cruz know exactly why they’re on the stage!

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz

It’s unlikely there were too many people here who came specifically for them but I suspect that by the end of their (short) set Santa Cruz have made a few new friends.

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz

“6(66) Feet Under” is the highlight for me, catchy and hitting just the right spot. The solos of Johnny Parkkonen are clean and efficient and overall there’s very little to find falut with here. They leave the stage after closing with “Aiming High”, the only song this evening taken from their first album “Screaming for Adrenaline”. Great performance and I would imagne we’re likely to hear a lot more about Santa Cruz in the future.

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz

Setlist

We Are The Ones to Fall
Velvet Rope
My Remedy
Let Them Burn
6(66) Feet Under
Wasted and Wounded
Aiming High

Next up are Engel, also from Scandinavia, Sweden to be precise. There’s a certain expectation present here, with the crowd bunching up towards the stage and the venue filling out nicely.

Engel Engel

Eventually Engel take to the stage and immediately swing into “Salvation” from the latest album “Raven Kings”, this is followed by “Your Shadow Haunts You”.

Engel Engel

Engel resist the temptation to just run through the latest album though, picking songs from various periods of their career, all of which are lapped up enthusiastically by the crowd.

Engel Engel

There’s more than a faint nod in the direction of In Flames in the Engel sound but to my ears, they just don’t sound as crisp or tight as Santa Cruz tonight.

Engel Engel

Not that this puts any of the punters off enthusiastically banging their heads. Mikael Sehlin plays the crowd just like a frontman should and Marcus Sunesson (guitar) and Steve Drennan (bass) entice everyone on the floor to give up as much energy as they can spare.

Engel Engel

Another shortish set, sees Engel leave the stage after a blistering rendition of “Until Eternity Ends”, for me this was the first song that really showed Engel in their true light. Shame, we could have done with this 30 minutes earlier to get the blood properly flowing.

Engel Engel

Setlist

Salvation
Your Shadow Haunts You
Question Your Place
Fading Light
Six Feet Deep
When the Earth Burns
Burn
Casket Closing
Sense the Fire
Until eternity ends

Last but not least are Amaranthe. For those unfamiliar with this band containing Swedes and Danes, they play what I can only describe as poppy power metal. They are distinguished by the fact that they have 3 very distinct voalists, each with their own style.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

This characterises the songs nicely, allowing for very diverse passages and differing levels of intensity and layers. The female vocals of Elize Ryd are clean and angelic (without being operatic), the vocals of Jake E are standard rock fayre and both of these are entwined with the growled vocals of Henrik Englund.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

Makes for an intersting setup! Amaranthe are currently touring in support of their latest album “Massive Addictive”. In the past, it would have been fair to say their sound was metal with a fair dollop of pop.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

On this album, this seems to have shifted to pop with a fair dollop of metal. I was interested to see how these songs would translate at a gig.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

And for the main part, happy to report they translate very well! In a live environment, much of the pop sensibility is toned down (not lost) and the metal overtones cranked up. Pretty much all of the songs on this album (that we’ve heard this evening) benefit from a live airing.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

With so many people on the stage all of the time, it is sometimes difficult to know where to look.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

The stage show is confident and accomplished though, with both mastermind Olof Mörck (guitars) and Johan Andreassen (bass) ensuring they are not overshadowed by the vocalists.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

Mörck knocks out riff after riff and some very nice solos. Ryd never stops smiling, as much a contrast to Jake E who always look pretty serious on stage.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

Sure there are cheesy moments, when the crowd raise their mobile (like lighters) for “Over and Done” for instance but they can be forgiven for this. This is power metal after all and they’re definitely not the biggest offenders in the cheese area!

Amaranthe Amaranthe

A little bit of indulgence from Morten Løwe Sørensen with a drum solo and before we know it the band have left the stage. Back for the expected encore and finishing with the apt “The Nexus” (from the album of the same name), Amaranthe have once again pulled off a pretty good show, not the best I’ve seen them but certainly no complaints.

Amaranthe Amaranthe

Let’s try to push the music further back into the metal area of the pop/metal spectrum for the next album and you’ll keep this reviewer happy!

Digital World
Hunger
Invincible
Razorblade
1.000.000 Lightyears
Serendipity
Over and Done
Trinity
Massive Addictive
Afterlife
Electroheart
Drum Solo
Leave Everything Behind
Amaranthine
Call Out My Name

Encore:
Automatic
Dynamite
Drop Dead Cynical
The Nexus

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