Review: Amaranthe – Massive Addictive
3rd November 2014, 17:59
Posted by Chris

Since Amaranthe stormed on to the scene in 2010 with their widely acclaimed demo, not much has held them back. It has been a non-stop ride to the top for the Swedish metallers releasing two well received albums, introducing their brand of lightning fast electro metal with catchy hooks, technical prowess and their unique element of diverse vocal flurry. Continuing on the hot trail and only a bit over a year since the release of the previous album ‘The Nexus‘, Amaranthe release their newest effort ‘Massive Addictive‘. Can they continue their pop-metal dominance and follow up two albums that had so much effort and passion thrown into them?

First of all the name of the album ‘Massive Addictive‘ seems to throw a bit of spanner into the works of Amaranthe machine. While it is true the band have been labelled electro-pop-metal, it has not necessarily been a bad thing with the mix of speed, heavy riffing and catchiness being a justification to place the band in the metal genre with merits – with a name like ‘Massive Addictive’ it is quite evident that rather than shun off media labels of their music, the band has decided to embrace them and take hold of more pop based songwriting keeping the metal as a side note going forward.

Those assumptions truly come to light in the first couple songs of the album. The opening track ‘Dynamite‘ represents the change to a poppier and simpler direction, with the tracks slowed down to mid-tempo and the Ace of Base influence coming into full fruition. The technical guitar work of the first two albums has been dropped in favour of a tuned downed supplement to the keyboards and synths, and it feels that new harsh vocalist Henrik Englund only is on the album to continue to justify the band as metal. As we progress into ‘Drop Dead Cynical‘, older Amaranthe fans would feel simply let down by the sound, as the track sounds like a clash between Marilyn Manson’sBeautiful People‘ and hook that could be found on a Billboard Top 20 track.

The music certainly would have it’s merits for some who enjoy the simpler approach to metal and is certainly going to win over some new fans. Let-down aside ‘Massive Addictive‘ does have it’s moments to indicate there is an appeasement to old fans of Amaranthe. The drum work of Morten Sørensen is consistent and excellent throughout the album, providing some lightning fast off-signature kicks that give some interest to songs such as ‘Trinity‘ and ‘Massive Addictive‘. Though having a few moments of a appeasement to blend with some serious pop likely isn’t going to interest the melded masses of pop and metal lovers.

The album does picks up with a couple of real Amaranthe winners in power ballad ‘True‘, and ‘Skyline‘, as well as the hugely catchy ‘Exhale‘, but even with the peak tracks of the album one cannot help think that each of the songs would be worthy of an Eastern European Eurovision entry.

The band seem to be on a plain and simple mission now: be one of the biggest acts they can be. What they have gained is catchier tracks that could well shoot them into the mainstream, what they have lost is the unique integrity that made the band so interesting when they started out. There are signs that the band could hit some top 10 charts at very least in Europe, but at the cost of their metal roots – though the band hasn’t lost touch yet, the success of ‘Massive Addictive’ will determine whether the band move into pop or stay in metal, right now the album is dancing (literally) on that borderline.

In short, the album is not ‘Massive‘, neither is it really ‘Addictive‘, and Amaranthe need to consider their next move carefully or risk their rise grinding to a halt.