As the United States officially passes 8 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and several European countries are now going back into lockdown due to the inevitable second wave, the music industry is at a critical turning point. Whilst big business seems to be the top priority in the western world for bailouts, you have to wonder why the arts are being decimated with governments seemingly showing zero empathy for the 1000s of venues facing closure. “There is a lot of uncertainty in our business at the moment, as we see very little in the way of a gradual opening up of venues. But we are crossing our fingers and hanging in there,” says Olof Mörck, founding member of Swedish Metal outfit, Amaranthe.

It is easy for a hero to become a villain if he turns too extreme, utterly convinced in his righteousness
- Olof Mörck

In recent years, Sweden has exported some of the finest Rock and Metal music the respective genres have seen, and Amaranthe should be at the top of your list when it comes to Swedish Metal. But, it’s not just Amaranthe you should be exploring. Sweden seems to produce some of the most talented musicians on the planet, this could be due to the Swedish nature of embracing creativity. “Our long winter months give us very little opportunity for outdoor activities, and that is definitely part of the reason,” Olof explains when asked why Swedes excel when it comes to musicianship. “Another factor is an excellent focus by the government to make sure rehearsal rooms, beginner's instruments for lending and music teachers are available pretty much everywhere. That was definitely the way I could get started,” which is something you don’t often experience in other European countries.

This ethos of embracing creativity could be the reason Sweden has fared so well during the pandemic. “Sweden has indeed been a bit exceptional with handling this matter, enforcing little to no lock downs - except in the case of the performing arts. Looking at the current COVID-19 numbers it seems to have worked well for us, but there are probably a lot of cultural and geographical aspects at play. I assume the experts for each country know what works best for them,” Olof explains, and he’s bang on the money.

Swedish culture is propped up by a mutual respect for your fellow citizen, something unmatched by most countries. The Amaranthe message is “positive, energetic and uplifting music” which their latest album, ‘Manifest’, 100 percent delivers on. This mutual respect has not only seen Sweden sail through the crisis, but it’s also played a big part in the development of Amaranthe as a band. Olof explains: “Sweden has been spared from war and other disasters for more than 200 years now, and we are likely a little less belligerent because of that. It is not at all unthinkable that some of this mentality has also seeped into our, and indeed others' music.”

The underlying political nature of the global pandemic has brought out the best, and worst in some people, including political parties. Amaranthe definitely have a political edge and they’ve clearly started to express this in their music. “We take a very strong stance on a great many topics, some of them political, some of them not. Our focus is encouragement, positivism and indeed: entertainment. While that might sound whimsical, I believe entertainment and to forget your worries and troubles for a short time is a very powerful thing. In the most desperate times with the most incalculable suffering, people formed orchestras, performed plays and wrote poetry,” which is a fitting statement as the band recorded their latest record after an arena tour with Swedish Metal outfit “Sabaton” when Europe went into lockdown in March. “We wrote a major part of this album in a creative frenzy between coming home from an arena tour opening up for fellow Swedes Sabaton. Having played in front of 10,000+ people each night was extremely motivating and inspiring, and the songs had a tendency to almost write themselves.”

In 2013 Amaranthe released ‘The Nexus’ which contained some early politically motivated songs regarding the environment. The band seem to be embracing their position to express their views more and more with each new record to an ever growing audience. “Realise that we are all the same, regardless of political opinion, gender, colour of your skin or any other factor,” Olof explains. “To condemn certain groups for previous slights is not the way to go: the world will not mend or become a better place until we have harmony, patience and empathy between individuals and perceived groups. We are responsible for each other, for our environment and for our future children. To blame each other and to point fingers have led to very poor results in the past, and I see no reason why it would work better this time.”

“Seen from the bright side, the internet and its free access to information is a highly democratising phenomenon,” yet the biggest problem we face as a society is division. Whilst the internet provides humanity with incredible access to information, never before seen in human history, we now face being torn into two groups, mainly out of arrogance and ignorance. “In terms of Western society, I think polarisation is a worrying problem on the horizon. As people spend more and more time online enveloped in a digital environment that caters very specifically to their political inclinations, they become less likely to even hear the other side to their views. This in turn creates frustration on both sides, further widening the gap of opinions. It is easy for a hero to become a villain if he turns too extreme, utterly convinced in his righteousness.”

With that being said, Amaranthe have managed to deliver an incredibly powerful album. Manifest landed them a number 1 spot on Sweden’s Hard Rock album charts, as well as charting in several other European countries. Amaranthe have come a long way since forming in 2008 and with their ever growing thirst for musical knowledge and passion, who knows what else they have in store for us!

We’ll leave you with this beautiful closing statement from Olof: “There is always light in the dark. No matter how bleak things might appear to many right now, our great grandfathers and grandmothers would have scoffed at these problems, for certain. We strongly believe that the human spirit endures, and with her ingenuity and stubbornness she can overcome anything. If there is something I have learned from being an avid reader of history, it is this.”

Amaranthe's new record 'Manifest' is out now via Nuclear Blast, available to purchase HERE

Author Bio: AC Speed

Senior Editor

I started my career as a music journalist in 2013 and have been involved in the music industry as a touring musician, studio engineer and artist consultant since 2002, as well as previously being a signed artist. My passion for delivering high quality, informative music-related news is a daily driving force behind the content I create. Also a huge gaming nerd! Born in the United Kingdom and currently living in Sweden. Skål!


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