Thursday, October 27, 2016

Amaranthe - Maximalism (2016)

It feels like a long time since Amaranthe released a new album, when it has only been around two years, your standard time length between albums. It might have felt that way because the band has been busy, riding on the success wave that they started  with their debut record, back in 2011. The following two albums, "The Nexus" and "Massive Addictive", were released in 2013 and -14, giving us all a big dose of the band. Hopefully, this break has done good for the band, because the band sounded like they were running out of steam in "Massive Addictive".

With a title like "Maximalism", one would think that the band would max out their music to the brink of light speed, and they do in the beginning. The two openers, "Maximize" and "Boomerang", are both fast and catchy songs that are true to the Amaranthe formula. It is poppy, has its fair share of cyber music, and contains a impressive blend from all three vocalists of the band. It is classic Amaranthe stuff, and it got the power that one would want to hear from them.

After that though, everything goes downhill. It is not like the band is doing awful, just uninspired stuff all around. They glisten in small parts here and there, like in the accelerating "Faster" and the epic "Fireball", but most of the songs here are just flat out boring, or even worse, face palm inducing. It is clear that the band does want to try some new things, but most of them lean more towards the pop part of the band, and that is of course not something that appeals to me or you. Several songs here could work really well in Eurovision, and one potential winner could have been "Limitless", a power ballad with a lot of bass and oomph. This does remind me, why isn't Amaranthe competing? They would fit right in that mad world!

So that only annoys me ever so slightly, but there are some rage inducing things in "Maximalism", things that simply cannot be ignored. "That Song" (yes, that is the name of the song), is a simple, catchy song with a memorable beat. There is only one problem... THEY STOLE IT FROM QUEEN!!! "That Song" is basically "We Will Rock You", but with worse lyrics and a more annoying tone (oh, and no Freddie Mercury, that sucks too). I can see that they tried to make a homage to Queen here, but it ended up being a complete rip off, a disgusting one. That is not the only time in the album they do this though. "Supersonic" has a choir that is taken straight from "Bohemian Rhapsody", and it does not help that this song has one of the most awkward lyric lines I have heard in a long time (We are not ironic/We're supersonic). Please, leave Queen alone.

But can I honestly say that this is a bad album? Well, not really. As a metal release, yes, it is kind of meh, but if we just look at the music, "Maximalism" is not half bad. It is well produced, it got catchy songs, and the performance from the band is spot on. The trio attack of Jake E, Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson and Elize Ryd is the driving force of the band, taking them to the next level every album, and the real sole reason to listen to the band in the first place. They mix it up real nice, giving each other enough space to work with, and making their own performances stand out. Without them, Amaranthe would just be a mediocre trance metal band.

The 90's kid in me do like this album, and it is definitely a more passionate effort than "Massive Addictive", but the ideas are too few and too far apart for me to really take this to my heart. It just does not reach up to the standard that the first two records set. The two year absence has worked out as planned, presenting us a refreshed band that tries to max out everything from their unique sound, but the evolution in the sound is still minimal, so they might have benefited with a little more time, just so that every idea gets its chance to develop nicely (and so that the band do not have to steal from Queen). Overall, a neat effort, just not as maxed out as the name suggested.

Songs worthy of recognition: Boomerang, Maximize, Faster

Rating: 6/10 Fireballs

More reviews of Amaranthe
The Nexus
Massive Addictive

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