By Carl Begai
Massive Addictive won’t do anything to improve Amaranthe’s relationship with their haters, but the diehard fans will fall in love with the band all over again. The vast majority of fence-sitters, meanwhile, will find themselves drawn in by what is, quite frankly, a surprisingly addictive listen that justifies the wonderfully arrogant album title. Still pop metal to the core, Amaranthe’s all-important third album kicks off by putting the fans in the comfort zone with ‘Dynamite’, a track echoing the band’s previous album, The Nexus. It’s the neck-wreck-bounce of the following track and first single ‘Drop Dead Cynical’ – imagine Marilyn Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People’ as a song on the Grease soundtrack – that sets the tone for Massive Addictive. The vocal melodies are infectious to a fault, the riffs are bold, all supported by steel hard backbone seemingly yanked from Hypocrisy frontman Peter Tägtgren’s command center for his industrial-rocked metal outfit Pain.
‘Drop Dead Cynical’, ‘Unreal’, ‘Trinity’, ‘Massive Addictive’ ‘Skyline’ and ‘Digital World’ are guaranteed to become fan favourites, charged with more adrenaline than some folks give Amaranthe credit for. There are two ballads to be had this time out – ‘True’ and ‘Over And Done’ – both of them loaded with radio potential and too smart for the suits making programming decisions. The album winds down with the heaviest song of Amaranthe’s career to date, ‘An Ordinary Abnormality’, featuring the sextet pulling out all the stops and crushing any ridiculous notions that pop metal has no balls.
It’s nice to hear how Amaranthe avoided disaster by not rehashing the formula of their first two records. Their three-vocalist attack (female, male, cookie monster – in that order) added a certain level of unique from the get-go, but wouldn’t have been enough to make Massive Addictive the sleeper hit it is. This time out, clean singers Elize Ryd and Jake E. show up where you least expect them, harmonizing and trading-off vocal parts more than ever before. And their voices are huge. Case in point on ‘Digital World’ – one of Amaranthe’s strongest songs ever – the exchanges on ‘Unreal’, and Ryd’s vocal nuances and insane range on ‘Danger Zone’. New resident growler Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson (Scarpoint) is a major player on the record rather than merely a hellish enhancement, even taking the lead and stealing the show on ‘An Ordinary Abnormality’. And with guitarist Olof Mörck being one of the primary songwriters, the album boasts riffs and leads by the truckload.
What makes the new album work ultimately is the live feel of the music. It’s all well and good to produce polished commercially appealing metal in the studio, quite another to take it out of the can on stage and blow an audience away with a full-on musical performance. Amaranthe have done just that for years, and the material on Massive Addictive is begging to be unleashed live. It’ll go over a storm and then some.
The tracklist is as follows:
‘Drop Dead Cynical’
‘Over And Done’
‘An Ordinary Abnormality’
For information and updates on Amaranthe go to their official Facebook page here.