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Amaranthe - "Massive Addictive" (CD)

Amaranthe - "Massive Addictive" CD cover image

"Massive Addictive" track listing:

1. Dynamite
2. Drop Dead Cynical
3. Trinity
4. Massive Addictive
5. Digital World
6. True
7. Unreal
8. Over and Done
9. Danger Zone
10. Skyline
11. An Ordinary Abnormality
12. Exhale

Reviewed by on October 30, 2014

"Their third album sees them amplifying the elements of the last two records that worked best -- the straight-forward songs, the 3-person vocal interplay, and the catchy melodies."

Capitalizing on the success afforded them by their self-titled debut and consistent followup album, “The Nexus,” the mates of Sweden’s Amaranthe are sticking to their guns, with barrels still smoking from the last album. Had metal not needed their delightfully refreshing pop infusion, their rise to prominence would have been slower. Boasting guitarist Olof Morck of Dragonland/Nightrage, vocalist Jake E of Dreamland, vocalist Elize Ryd (previously toured with Kamelot), vocalist Henrik Englund of Scarpoint, drummer Morten Sorensen of Koldborn/Mercenary, and bassist Johan Andreassen of Engel, the band is waist-deep in experience in the genre already. This third album sees the group amplifying the elements of the last two records that worked best -- the straight-forward songs, the 3-person vocal interplay, and the catchy melodies.

The band has chosen to focus on melodies and intricate groove rhythms for “Massive Addictive,” which are arguably their best attributes. Unfortunately, the move to simplify the chord progressions on display comes at an expense: the songs are a bit more homogenous. The move will surely give the band what it was likely aiming for, though, which is be a broader audience. Ryd’s unique vocal style is the strongest weapon, with many of the songs inflected with fierce pop stylings that metal desperately needed. Amaranthe has crystallized to embody what metalheads both love about Swedish melodic metal and *secretly* love about good pop: balance.

For any given song on “Massive Addictive,” the formula tends to lean toward very distinct verse-chorus frameworks, chugging guitar riffs, a hooky chorus, a blistering guitar solo, and necessary repetition of everything. Thanks to Morck’s truly virtuosic playing and Sorensen’s shockingly fast and intricate drumming, this somehow doesn’t get old. Electronica and metalcore elements are injected throughout the album as well, with all sorts of synthesizers accenting the background, courtesy of expert producer and mix engineer Jacob Hansen.

Stand-out singles include “Drop Dead Cynical,” with a not-too-thinly-disguised melody straight out of the Max Martin/Britney Spears play book (“I’m not that innocent” vs. “we’re drop dead cynical”), “Massive Addictive,” with its head-bobbing insistent rhythms and irresistible chorus, and “Over and Done,” dosed with much-needed dynamics. The ballad of “True” bleeds its sentiment, befitting of the band and in the same vein as “Amaranthine.” “Danger Zone” even allows incoming growler Henrik Englund a nice bit of room to shine on entire verses by himself, something not afforded to his predecessor Andy Solvestrom and a welcome addition to the dynamic.

Altogether, the band rose to the challenge of a third album and blew it away like a target in well-trained sights. Amaranthe knows exactly who the band's demographic is and how to please them without cutting corners or sacrificing what’s most important. That is the sign of a band that’s in it for the long haul.

Highs: More growled vocals and more synthesizers!

Lows: Less unique chord progressions.

Bottom line: A massively addictive third album of pop-tinged melodic metal.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)