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Small steps forward. - 63%

hells_unicorn, August 3rd, 2011

Amaranthe left me with a very mediocre impression upon first becoming acquainted with their mixed debut. While there is definitely a strong sense of energy and drive at work, the heavy pop underpinnings and lack of elaboration on the various ideas thrown at the listener (save the 3 pronged vocal assault) lost its luster after a couple of listening. This is a band that doesn’t quite have the staying power department nailed down yet, in much the same respect as In Flames, a band that was probably a huge influence on this one.

The first post-debut single “Rain” offers something slightly more enticing, though still not quite something to get jazzed up about. The A-side is the typical sub-4 minute ditty from the LP, offering a small group of moderately busy riffs of the up-tempo melodeath persuasion and an extremely formulaic structure that is much more typical of rock radio than I care for. It’s pretty fast and every element shows a fair level of competency, but it just comes off as bland and contrived.

The B-sides are where things get a little bit more interesting, though not so much for having a really different overall format, but more so for what goes on within their established format. “Breaking Point” has a fairly solid galloping drive to it that sounds almost akin to a mid-80s Iron Maiden tune on steroids with a mishmash of female and harsh vocals. “Splinter My Soul” throws in some interesting Pantera oriented groove work and has a pretty solid shred fest right square in the middle. Nothing that hasn’t been done before, but something that is catchy and memorable.

I’d actually recommend purchasing this single rather than the LP, or at least before getting it so that a slightly less one-dimensional version of this band can be experienced and one’s tolerance for sameness can be tested. Everyone in this outfit has a lot of potential, but none of it is being realized because so many different elements are being crammed into an over-short group of individual packages, not to mention that mechanical production practices add a lot of exaggeration to the band’s already overt pop tendencies. This could be worse, but it could also be a hell of a lot better.