I heard somewhere that not knowing the Swedish/Danish Viking band Amaranthe is not knowing Metal. Come again? Well, here I am listening to their last, newest and best 2014 concoction Massive Addictive. And I just ask myself – WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT?
For sure, the tunes are catchy, fast, kind of Power Metal and well produced (even too well produced). But – gosh – it just sounds to me like so much George Michael on steroids teamed up with some pop queen. Then they must have met some hairy guys and started to distort guitars, adding some sort of harsh vocals. Last, but not least they called that Metal. Just check out their Wikipedia page.
But for sure it does not sound like metal of the Numba One kind as we know it. More like some sort of disco pop gone haywire with some metal elements. Holy shit, guys. This ends up in such a messy mix of different styles that it starts to be good again. Let’s Get Cynical alright.
Okay, admitted: It is not that terrible and I still kinda like it, but all of the above describes the essence of what I am hearing. Somebody called it a guilty pleasure to listen to this band. And indeed, this is how it feels. I would not necessarily like to admit to my metal buddies that I am listening to them (in the car when nobody can pick it up..). But then this sticks to you like sprinkler glue from Home Depot.
The melodies and disco-ready rave party sound bytes are really getting to you after a while and will not let you go anymore. And this is what seems to be the strategy of Amaranthe. But there is also a limit to synthesizing horrors together and then make it sound like a melody. Some of these instruments in there seem to be possessed and have developed a life of their own. Kind of out of tune with the rest of the …. tune.
And because they mix so much of that into their music, listening to the album becomes tiring after a while. Their music loses its soul and this is a pity. In their former production The Nexus things were still better balanced.
But they have a knack for catchy refrains that just want to make your feet dance away, even if they are weighed with metal like mine. Just check out the song Massive Addictive, which true to its name gets to you in an eery way, refrain and all. It is also descriptive of their style in a way. And the lyrics … stuff like ‘Massive addictive, And suddenly I’m greatly affected, Like burning fire inside’. Good grief! Not very deep that, but delivered expertly by the cute Elize Ryd in best poppy fashion is making all the difference. And then there is the clear voice vocalist Jake E who is the second soul of this band. Very good performance and kind of the savior of this here record.
You will get the evil little keyboard and electronic synthesizer melee a little bit everywhere across the record. Like aptly demonstrated in Digital World. But the stellar solos that we metal guys crave like vampires blood on a full moon night are just not there. Or not there very much.
Only starting with Danger Zone and for sure in Skyline do some of them appear. A little timidly peeking around the corner. Then it gets a bit rockier in An Ordinary Abnormality. Over and Done is a very nice slower rock ballad interlude. Which I like better every time I listen to it – am I a softie or what?
All the subjective raving and ranting apart, you do find a lot of good in this here record. They clearly have created their own style that gets to become Massive Addictive as the name of their album suggests. A bunch of truly talented musicians have unleashed a series of power songs that sit well on the beach. Or also for a party at the club.
So, if you are no purist and electronic sounds do not frighten you, then go for it. It is somewhat of an electronic soup of similarities (hence the relatively low rating below). But expertly delivered and with a lot of energy to boot. I specifically like the the duets and jointly sung tracks that add nicely to the style.
If you are a metalhead and you like your fare delivered razor sharp in carbon steel metal, then Massive Addictive is way too mushy for ye. Ah, the hate/love thing again, it gets to me. I will listen into one or two further records of this band after I digested this one a bit better and hope for the best. Let’s see what I will find.