Sunday, November 30, 2014

Massive Addictive | Amaranthe

Amaranthe is one of the newest female fronted metal bands to enter the scene, starting with their self-titled debut in 2011 and their sophomore album The Nexus in 2013. Their pattern of releasing albums is reminiscent of pop sensation Rihanna: They don't keep fans waiting for very long. They've already released their third record, Massive Addictive, which holds true to their unique sound: An energized electronic version of metal music. While many bands will have one male and one female vocalist, Amaranthe has three: Elize Ryd (who sounds like a more versatile Celine Dion), Jake E. (who does the clean male vocals), and Henrik Englund (who screams and grunts). A lot of heavy metal elitists will probably hate the band's modernized sound, but the open-minded will love it. Considering the sound of their musical associates, the direction Amaranthe takes is bold and interesting; however, as I said about UnSun's Clinic for Dolls, I find myself wishing for more variety between their songs.
The first song, "Dynamite," is a show-stopper. Heavy, pulsating riffs are interwoven with fleeting synths - if I could imagine Pink Floyd's "On the Run" mixed with a metal band, this is what it would sound like. The middle eight has the song's heaviest moments with a guitar solo and chugging rhythm guitars that help give the band such a thick, choppy sound. Elize Ryd radiates confidence when she sings, belting it out in a way that's unusually soulful for the genre. "Drop Dead Cynical," the first single from Massive Addictive, is also exemplary of this vocal technique in the chorus, and Englund seems to particularly shine on this single even though one may initially think that it might not be heavy enough for him. While I wasn't very impressed by "Drop Dead Cynical" on the first listen, it has definitely grown on me - it's so fun!

"Massive Addictive" also took a couple of listens before I could really appreciate it. It has a bit of a slower flow, so instead of having the bounce-off-the-walls energy that Amaranthe always seems to have, it soaks in its own epicness, and I have no problem with that. It can still amplify a movie trailer's action sequence, without a doubt. Ryd and Jake's voices so well in the chorus (their duets dominate most Amaranthe choruses... it just seems a little more effective than usual here). Honestly, once the chorus is in your head, good luck getting it out.

"Digital World" comes in at nearly halfway, and it's definitely one of my favorites from Massive Addictive. The electronic elements lead in the guitars and die down so we hear Englund's harsh vocals synthed (an unlikely but fantastic combination) so that he sounds stuck in a time warp or something, trapped in the "Digital World." His voice is fully unleashed in the middle eight (as is every instrument the band uses... It's so heavy). Ryd's voice is delicate and pretty in the pre-chorus... And that chorus - THAT CHORUS! I cannot sit still when I hear it and replay it until I have virtually transformed into the Energizer Bunny. It's incredibly catchy and the execution is just epic: "You don't ever have to cry 'cause the future is sold / You can never die and you'll never grow old / But everything surrounding you is digital."

Overall, I find the first half of Massive Addictive to be much more impressive than the second half, with the exception of the third song, "Trinity," which doesn't do much for me musically and the chorus strikes me as really corny. "True" has a pretty piano line and has potential, but nothing manages to wow me. This is the case for quite a few. "Over and Done" is more of a power ballad, and I do like that one (let's face it - Amaranthe has too much energy to slow things completely down), but I'm not sure if it's something I'll be listening to quite a bit in the future. The same goes for "An Ordinary Abnormality," which is the heaviest track.
So, in total, there are four songs from Massive Addictive I love, one that's sort of in a "I like" category, and another that's on the borderline between "I like" and "Meh." (If that makes sense.) The album doesn't blow me away because there needs to be some more variety, a little more of that WOW factor. This album will get just about anybody pumped with its metal-electronic mesh and will appeal to fans of both clean and harsh vocals, but they just need to think outside the box in terms of structure for the future.

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