Published on November 12th, 2016 | by Justin G.
All right, everybody. Form up into two lines. Anyone who loved the first two Amaranthe albums but were iffy on Massive Addictive, you’re over here in front of the door marked “exit.” If you came late to the Amaranthe party and/or really loved Massive Addictive, stick around; the party is about to start.
That’s right, Swedish pop metal sensation Amaranthe is back with a new album, their fourth, titled Maximalism. And once again, a new Amaranthe album inevitably proves controversial. With Maximalism, Amaranthe takes the pop elements and dials them way up. This makes the poppy songs on Massive Addictive (songs like “Drop Dead Cynical” and “Digital World”) seem tame. We get lots of techno/electronica/dance elements on this album, and Elize Ryd does her best Rihanna impression on some of these songs. Oddy (and awesomely) enough, Olof Morck serves up some absolutely crushing guitar riffs and Henrik Englund’s growled vocals take a huge role here. So Maximalism ends up being Amaranthe’s poppiest and heaviest album at the same time.
Whatever formula the band had on the first two albums (and you have to admit they were pretty formulaic) is gone, so you won’t find any songs like “The Nexus” or “10,000 Light Years” on Maximalism. Instead Amaranthe is in full-on pop territory, which makes their already catchy style of metal that much more infectious. Their initial single, the much maligned “That Song” is a great example. It’s silly, and you may claim to hate it, but sooner or later you’re going to start banging out the “We Will Rock You” style drum intro on your steering wheel, and will find the chorus stuck in your head hours later. “Boomerang,” which nods to Rihanna, and “On the Rocks” also bring the pop in a big way. The title track and “Faster” come closest to the early Amaranthe sound, and give us more from Jake E, who almost seems like a guest vocalist on this album. And then there’s the contrast between “Fury,” which is an almost all-Henrik melodic death metal track and the closing “Endlessly,” which finds Elize in Celine Dion territory.
Maximalism is an album of contradictions, and is one that is bound to cost Amaranthe some older fans. The band is going somewhere new, and that somewhere new is likely to broaden their crossover appeal even further. You could call it a sellout if Amaranthe wasn’t always about making heavy metal commercially accessible. The bottom line is that Maximalism is a super-catchy, super-fun album that open-minded Amaranthe fans will simply not be able to resist. You may hate yourself for how much you end up loving this album, but you’re still going to play these songs. A lot.
Summary: Haters gonna hate, but this is a lot of fun.