Sound — 9
Swedish melodic metal band Amaranthe is one of metal's most unique, but also controversial bands. Metal purists deride them for their fusion of Swedish melodic death metal with pop hooks and eurodance keyboard/synthesizer lines. It seems that any time a vaguely "metal" band attracts a non-metal audience the "metal defenders" come yelling that they are "ruining metal." But if you take away the heavy detuned guitars, harsh vocals, and aggressive drumming Amaranthe is a pop band. Does that take away from their sound, no. This is because Amaranthe is the sum of all it's parts. Frontwoman Elize Ryd trades soaring vocal lines with fellow clean vocalist Jake E. These lines are interspersed with the rhythmic growls of new harsh vocalist Henrik Englund, who in my opinion is a much needed breathe of fresh air. He seems to be more of a natural than former growler Andreas Solvestrom. Guitarist Olof Mörck is the real shining star here, as opposed to Amaranthe's two previous albums, he seems to be in the forefront on many of the tracks here providing power metal-esque soaring guitar solos.
This fusion of death metal and pop sensibilities, reminds me of what could have happened if Jeff Walker of Carcass had "learned to sing" like Columbia tried to persuade him to during their brief partnership with Earache records in the mid 1990s. Overall Amaranthe's sound is very polished, the clean vocals are treated with effects found in much of modern pop music. The hooks on this album are incredibly catchy.
Lyrics — 7
At the core they are pop lyrics, so don't expect any intellectual or philosophical lyrics. They are written for the hooks to shine and elevate the song during the chorus. The singer skills on the other hand are excellent both Jake E and Elize Ryd excel at their craft trading soaring vocal lines typical of power metal vocalists. Harsh vocalist Henrik Englund's vocal lines help to reinforce the rhythm of the song. He is a very good harsh vocalist to introduce new listeners to the world of harsh vocals since most of his lyrics are understandable at first listen.
Overall Impression — 8
"Massive Addictive" is Amaranthe's best album to date. It seems they finally found their sound and the band members play off of each other equally, no member stands above the rest. My favorite songs are "Dynamite," "Trinity," "Digital World," the ballad "Over and Done," and "An Ordinary Abnormality." My only complaint about this album is sometimes the vocal effects can get tiresome. I like the fusion of the melodic death metal riffs with the pop keyboard lines, it reminds me of symphonic metal bands like Within Temptation, Epica, Delain, and Nightwish, but Amaranthe's keyboard lines are very different in the way they interplay with the guitar, it's more to create rhythm than atmosphere.