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Next review: » AMARANTHE - The Nexus
Released: 2016, Spinefarm Records
Writing this in late 2016, it’s easy to look back on the last five years and see the constant upward trajectory that Sweden’s Amaranthe have been on. Ever since the release of their sophomore album, THE NEXUS, the band has been consistently touring longer, selling more albums, and simply getting bigger. Inside and outside the band, vocalist Elize Ryd has become a star with her charismatic vocals netting her numerous guest spots on others’ albums. Add it all up and Amaranthe has reached a level where their album’s release is highly anticipated.
Which brings me to their fourth album, MAXIMALISM. That’s a fitting title for the album as it really is more of everything the band has become known for: heavier riffs, catchier choruses, more operatic singing; it’s all mixed together in a way only this band can. Crucially, they’ve gotten even more pop-influenced than ever; going so far as to include obvious vocal nods to the likes of Rihanna (!). Amaranthe has always had detractors because of their catchy songs and they certainly didn’t help fight them with their pre-release single “That Song” and its undeniably pop-influenced video. Those that feel Amaranthe was a pop group masquerading as a metal band will find much fuel for their fires here.
That said, the album opens with the arch-Amaranthe title track which would fit perfectly inside of THE NEXUS. Fans of the band’s heavier tracks will be pleased to hear that this is not a one-off; some of the band’s heaviest songs ever are here: “Fury”, “21”, “Supersonic”, and “Fireball” all crush. As well, harsh vocalist Henrik Englund is a much more featured presence this time out. That said, the ballads are there; particularly “Endlessly” which provides Ryd with her Disney-princess solo moment.
As for the rest? There’s no way to deny the growing pop influence in this band. Even as a fan of the band, I find it hard not to be cynical about it. There’s no doubt that MAXIMALISM is both heavy and catchy but I wonder if metal fans will tolerate it? Then again, as I alluded to above, Amaranthe are at a point now where they have their own fans and almost transcend genre labels so I doubt that they are worried about what crusty old critics like me think. I guess the best thing I can say about this album is this: despite my jaded feelings, I still enjoy and play the heck out of it. In the end, that’s really all that matters.
3. That Song
5. On the Rocks
9. Break Down and Cry
Elize Ryd: Vocals
Jake E.: Vocals
Henrik Englund: Vocals
Olof Morck: Guitar, Keyboards
Johan Andreassen: Bass
Morten Lowe: Drums
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