How well does a pop metal band hold up stripped down?  Amaranthe is one of those super slick Euro melodic metal bands that is almost more pop than metal – it’s like pop songs that happen to have metal backing tracks.  Every note is perfect and amazingly well produced.  So how does a B-side CD mostly of stripped down acoustic songs stand up?

Pretty damn well. It’s easy to forget that under the super slick production on their CDs are super talented musicians.  Elize Ryd, the main singer and frontwoman, can belt tunes out.  I personally may have dismissed her as a just a pretty face but she’s good, and radiates talent here.  Jake E Lundberg also shines vocally as well, and listening to the first few tracks you can imagine the band getting chills in multiple spots while writing songs. It’s a shame some of that is somewhat glossed over on the full CDs.

This album is for the fans for sure, and I’d say it’s required for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the band.  While promotion for it probably won’t win new fans to the fold, it’s almost a shame as this collection of songs gives you a more pointed look at the artists.
“Hunger” is a great track to kick off the CD, it’s full of energy and emotion.  It’s re-imagined and uses less reliance of their typical formula. Amaranthe hit recipe = Elize starts the verse, Jake builds, the screamer adds heaviness and oh snap, a huge chorus with Elize and Jake full of melody.  Breakdown and the melodic.  Rinse and repeat. Excellent.

The rest of the acoustic tracks mirror the full versions insofar as if you like the full version, you’ll probably dig the acoustic.  If you didn’t care for the full band version you probably won’t care for the acoustic. “Breaking Point” and “Splinter In My Soul” are the non-acoustic tracks.  They’re a great way to close out this collection of songs – they add the life and energy back in.  While I can see why they’re B-sides they’re still good songs and I’d have a hard time imagining any fans not liking them. They’re not “hits” but still really good songs.

Guitarist Olof deserves a lot of credit for his work on this; dude can write.  His songs translate well to acoustic versions and hearing the two full band tracks juxtaposed you can really hear his breadth of writing styles. This is a must have for fans of the band and a good place for someone who hasn’t heard their music to start listening.