By Carl Begai
Breaking Point is one of those on-the-fly releases meant to keep Amaranthe’s name in lights while they continue touring in support of their remarkably successful third album, Massive Addictive. Most fans will love it, but there’s a group of die-hard completists bound to be slightly pissed for having spent extra money on unreleased B-sides that appear here. Six acoustic tracks and two full-on metal assaults are offered up, all recorded after the respective sessions for the band’s self-titled debut, The Nexus, and Massive Addictive. Hearing concert favourite ballads ‘Amaranthine’ and ‘Burn With Me’ done up acoustic is neither amazing nor disappointing; they’re well written songs played effectively as reduced to their most basic elements. The acoustic rendition of ‘True’ from Massive Addictive, on the other hand, is a startling stripped down version featuring voices and piano up front with the spotlight (unexpectedly) favouring vocalist Jake E. It’s actually preferable to the original version.
The two full metal songs on Breaking Point, the title track and ‘Splinter In My Soul’, originally surfaced as bonus tracks for the Japanese version of Amaranthe’s self-titled debut and their 2011 single ‘Rain’, therefore featuring original growler Andy Solveström in place of current rage vocalist Henrik Englund. Again, not a bad pair of songs, but it’s easy to understand why the tracks were never tagged as final album cuts, as they lack that elusive “something” to make them click. It would, however, be interesting to hear ‘Splinter In My Soul’ in a live setting with all its rampant Soilwork-ishness.
Biggest feels and appreciation on Breaking Point go to ‘Hunger, ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Trinity’, three songs Amaranthe fans know as heavy hitting, up-tempo metal anthems. ‘Hunger’ is transformed into a folk tune (well known and loved at this point), guitarist Olof Mörck shines on ‘Afterlife’, and the piano is brought out as lead instrument for ‘Trinity’, but what truly makes the songs work are the vocal arrangements. Jake E. and Elize Ryd could have very easily phoned in their performances – or worse, they could have simply cut and pasted the original vocal recordings on top of acoustic tracks – but the duo dig deep in a big way by re-interpreting their original recordings to create something new. Elize Ryd is oustanding, belting her parts rather than playing it soft and safe for “mere” acoustic songs and showcasing just how bloody powerful her voice truly is.
It’s refreshing to hear how Amaranthe have remagined their own work on Breaking Point, making me think they could pull off an acoustic tour without breaking a sweat or fear of disappointment.
‘Hunger’ (self-titled debut)
‘Amaranthine’ (self-titled debut)
‘Burn With Me’ (The Nexus)
‘Trinity’ (Massive Addictive)
‘True’ (Massive Addictive)
‘Breaking Point’ (self-titled debut)
‘Splinter In My Soul’ (self-titled debut)