Elize Ryd, Amaranthe lead vocalist

Swedish ‘modern metal’ band Amaranthe have just released their new album ‘Helix’ and have recently finished the first leg of their tour supporting Powerwolf. Rockflesh recently caught up with lead vocalist Elize Ryd and we had a chat about the tour, the new album ‘Helix’ and an odd photo-shopped album cover image…

I asked Elize if frequently changing the new tracks they have played so far this tour is due to them looking ahead to their headline tour next year and preparing in advance. Elize says,

“Yes, that’s correct. Now we have rehearsed six songs from ‘Helix’ and we would also like to add ‘Unified’ and ‘Breakthrough Starshot’ but it’s hard to choose when we have so many songs we would like to play.”

Elize explains their realisation that earlier in the tour they were maybe playing too many songs from the new album in their live set.

“We realised that in some countries there were many people that had not heard much about us so we wanted to play a stronger set with more hits and that as it is a support tour, we need to be more accessible. When we do the headline tour then we can play more of the new songs.”  

I asked Elize if the band had any big plans for the headline tour to make things bigger and better than before.

 “Yes” she says, “We are trying to build as much as we can into the stage show and we have a new manager Angela Gossow who is used to working with big headline acts so she has the same thoughts in mind. So she is helping us out and telling us what we need, and has all the right context. Actually, one of the reasons we couldn’t bring more stuff on this tour is that there was no more space in the trailer. It was full so we had to leave a lot of stuff behind, and also because of the space on stage ...so we were limited. But when we headline we will be able to fully represent what Amaranthe is about and take it to the next level”

I mentioned that I was surprised the latest single ‘Inferno’ hasn’t been played live and if it had been rehearsed yet as I thought it would work well with the red and orange colour scheme of ‘Helix’.

“Oh yeah we should” says Elize enthusiastically. “I love it, it’s a single, it should be” she says. “But no, we haven’t rehearsed it.” I reiterated how much I thought that particular track would lend itself to a bigger stage and colourful lighting accompanied by smoke and flames. “You have a lot of good ideas, I like them” she says. “I will take this to the crew” says Elize, laughing.

 Amaranthe performed in Israel for the first time recently and I asked Elize how it went.

“It went well” she replied. “I was very surprised as I didn’t know what to expect and I did some research beforehand and found out how they are very ahead in many ways such as feminism, and they have the biggest Pride parade in the world, and when you come there you realise that this is a very peaceful and very modern place, and that’s not what you might expect. I have better knowledge now of the political situation out there and that’s why I like to go to a country and find things out for myself rather than just read about it in the news. We were so pleased to play for the people there as these are our fans no matter where in the world they are, and they have been asking us to perform for so long and were very grateful to us.“

We went on to talk about the new album ‘Helix’ and I asked Elize about the track ‘365’ and what the meaning was behind the lyric ‘365 and a day’.

“It’s like when you could have a day where nothing matters” she says. “A day that’s different and not relevant to all the others, where you can just stop time, look back at your life and just see everything clear instead of being part of the system. It’s a time when you can make decisions”.

I asked Elize about the new track from ‘Helix’, ‘GG6’ and what ‘GG6’ stands for.

“It stands for Growl God” she explains. “It’s actually the alter ego of Henrick (Englund) that he developed on a previous song ‘Fury’ and in the lyrics he calls himself the Growl God, and so on GG6 it has developed and it’s Growl God 6 so it looks like 666.”

I highlight to Elize how ‘GG6’ and also ‘Iconic’ from ‘Helix’ both have very angry lyrics and a lot of aggression and when the band put their albums together was it intentional to have a mix of tracks consisting of heavy and aggressive through to the melodic ballads. Elize explains,

“When making an album we tend to look at it as a unit and see what tracks we have. So we looked at it and thought maybe we could make a slow song, and one where Nils (Molin) could shine, so we cater for many things. With this album for example we had sixteen ideas and the four that didn’t make it on the album were quite similar so then it would have made it less dynamic.”

 “It’s like a puzzle,” Elize adds, “We want a mixture, and of course we could have put everything in there that we wrote from the start but it feels like you need to have a balance between tracks and not too much of any one extreme”. I explain to Elize that from a listener's perspective the tracks flow quite well on Amaranthe albums as you tend to get a slower track followed by one of the heavier ones and it’s like a film where there is a deliberate lull prior to a big action sequence.

“I’m glad you noticed that,” Elize says, “That’s something we really think about and songs we don’t use now because they impact the balance could even fit into the next album. That’s how we have done it from the very first album and we carry on where we left off, and use material for the next one that we have already worked on.”

We finish up by talking about the Powerwolf cover ‘Army of the Night’ that Amaranthe recorded recently for a compilation album of Powerwolf covers performed by a number of different bands. “How did that come about?” I asked Elize.

“Well we actually got asked to do it by the record label that manages Powerwolf. This is the first time we have had a request to do a cover. We talked so many times about doing one and that we should do it, and so when we were asked we said we would love to be a part of it, and it made sense as we already knew we would be on tour soon with Powerwolf.”

Elize explains how they chose the track and how it was recorded.

“We listened to a few tracks and my favourite was ‘Army of the Night’ and I said this is definitely the song we should do, and the other guys discussed a few others and in the end we agreed. It was fun and we thought… okay, what should it sound like? Maybe a bit faster, maybe go up a little bit in the key, and we put our ingredients in and it was fun.”   

I asked Elize about the artwork on the album cover which has many of the contributing artists in a large gothic church sitting round a grand table drinking wine. “Were you all photo-shopped in?” I asked, “Or were you all really there at the table?”

“We had individual pictures taken” admits Elize. ”You look a bit startled” I said. She laughs, “Yes, I don’t know what I was thinking when I did that”. She laughs again, and realising she has missed the opportunity to make a better story of it, questions herself… “Maybe I should have told you we all met up in Transylvania and had this amazing dinner together.” 

Rockflesh wishes to thank Elize for giving up her time to speak with us and we look forward to seeing Amaranthe in Manchester in January and on their headline world tour next year.

Interview by Mark Walsh and Steve Hulse
Words by Mark Walsh 'author of metalfesteurope.com'