[By Andrew Goh]
Like the average member of university discipulo sapiens, I was spending (wasting?) my night listening to songs, and the choice of reviewing this particular album started from a spontaneous decision.
I had heard of Amaranthe previously, although up until a few days ago I hadn’t actually listened to any of their songs. But they’d just released a new album entitled Massive Addictive some four days ago, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least try it once. So I did.
Suffice it to say, I haven’t been listening to anything else since.
To provide some background, Amaranthe are a 6-man Swedish band that’s… something of an oddity, genre-wise. Where most bands opt to go with a more mainstream approach, or the other way around, Amaranthe fuse both approaches. The closest one can come to describing their sound is perhaps, ‘power metal fused with electronic pop elements’, which has caused some derision from the metal fanbase, with some refusing to label them as a ‘true’ metal band.
Regardless of genre though, Amaranthe are pretty good. And nowhere does it show itself better than in their latest album, sporting a name that fits their approach – the cover art itself utilizes clean, geometric lines and a minimalist background, a hint to their approach – and preference – of using clean vocals despite being nominally a metal band, where the death growl approach is popular (this isn’t to say there aren’t any, but it’s kept in the background).
The opening track, Dynamite, is a song that fits the name – an explosive, catchy intense flavor of sound that doesn’t overstay its welcome, while Drop Dead Cynical and Trinity complement that opening salvo, with vocalists Elize Ryd, Jake E and Henrik Englund conspiring to leave the listener awed with arguably the best opening to any album that’s come out this year.
It doesn’t stop there, however – Amaranthe prove that they’re capable of consistency as well with the remaining tracks, with slick entries like Digital World and Danger Zone coming to the forefront, the former being a melodic criticism of our modern world (and showing that the band possesses more strings in their bow than mere catchy tunes), and their emotional depth comes to the forefront in Over and Done, a ballad centered around the theme of loss.
All in all, my verdict on Massive Addictive shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s one of my candidates for album of the year, for not only its ability to fuse the more mainstream elements of music with the more obscure ones, but also their sheer consistency – it’s easy to make a catchy tune, but sustaining it over the course of an entire album is rather impressive.
The name fits – Massive Addictive features massive vocals and addictive tunes, and if you haven’t already heard it, you probably should.
Like right now.