Review: Amaranthe – 'Maximalism'

Ever since Swedish/Danish power/melodic death metal band Amaranthe initially materialized as a project, their unique and distinctive blend of techno pop and metal has made them increasingly popular with fans since debuting their self-titled release in 2011. Five years on, their fourth studio album, ‘Maximalism’, available now via Spinefarm Records, follows a similar path to where previous release, ‘Massive Addictive’ (2014) left off. With each Amaranthe album, there is a distinctive change that comes from the flexibility of not being confined to any specific genre, and ‘Maximalism’ is certainly different to previous releases, with the band’s pop element being more prominent this time around, yet at the same time, there is a familiarity to the music. Their unusual vocal triad of Elize Ryd and Jake E providing the lead cleans, and Henrik Englund Wilhemsson’s injection of harsh vocals, continue to complement each other in a way that sets them apart from other bands with female vocalists. ‘Maximalism’ begins with ‘Maximize’, a track title that isn’t so far-fetched from the album title, and is fuelled with the energy you’d expect from an Amaranthe record.The opening track incorporates various electronics that are almost reminiscent of their second album ‘The Nexus’ (2013), with the intro build-up being in a similar vein to its title track. It also highlights the shared vocal duties between Elize, Jake, and Henrik, with an equal balance between clean lines and growls. Released as the album single, ‘That Song’ illustrates Amaranthe’s ability to produce catchy tracks that are usually crowd pleasers. Nonetheless, this particular song is the most deviating to date, and is stripped back of Amaranthe’s branded energetic, techno infusion. The noticeable absence of Wilhemsson’s growls also exhibit a mainstream edge to the record. That said, with his vocal presence on other tracks considered, Henrik’s omission on this particular one can be forgiven. However, as far as singles go, ‘Supersonic’ would have done well as a debuting release, due to its demonstration of the band’s colourful, unparalleled sound. ‘On the Rocks’ veers even closer to pop, topped off with Amaranthe’s knack for creating catchy choruses. Though their performance excels, the lyricism comes across as a little basic and generic, with lines like, “acting like a hot shot, drop it like it’s hot” and, “I’ve got no regrets along the path to be a hollywood star.” Despite this drawback, the new release continues to execute strong vocals, with immaculate harmonies between Elize and Jake, in addition to zeroing in on the triad as individuals, allowing each one time in the spotlight. Ryd shows her full sonant spectrum and power on ‘Supersonic’, hitting those top notes flawlessly, and the emotional solo closer ‘Endlessly’. While ‘Maximalism’ retains some of the band’s core style, the domineering pop formulation could be a vast turn-off, and potentially split their audience, particularly those who enjoyed their first and second instalments. Overall, the album seems more like a rock-tinged pop record, with Wilhemsson’s interjecting growls acting as the metal nucleus. The lyrics don’t hold much in terms of originality, yet the memorable melodies and stand-out performances add another stable entry to the Amaranthe repertoire. Review: Naomi Rigley]]>

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