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'Massive Addictive'
(Spinefarm Records)

scott adams


Is there a more divisive band in Euro Metal at the moment? I think not, although to be honest with you I struggle to see what all the fuss is about.

Swedes Amaranthe offer a heady mix of pop vocals, electronica parping and melodic death Metal posturing, the resultant noise created being nowhere near as bad as it's constituent parts might suggest. Is it Metal? Of course it is. Is it any good? That's another matter...

There are elements of 'Massive Addictive' that are spectacularly good. At their best, Amaranthe possess an ear for a pop hook usually only heard at the Eurovision song contest, and at the heart of these triumphant moments are the sparkling vocals of Elize Ryd.

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Possessed of a devastatingly good voice, Ryd would wipe the floor with contestants on The Voice or Idol should she be so minded. It's a pop voice, mind – she doesn't live in the same league as metal chanteuses Floor Jansen, Sharon den Adel or Delain's Charlotte Wessels.

But then she doesn't have to, as the music of Amaranthe requires her versatile soprano for putting the vocal flourish and commercial sheen to it's more prosaic chugga chugga Euro Metal. Amaranthe of course are notable for the fact that they have three vocalists, but it's Ryd who is the single most enticing weapon in Amaranthe's armoury.

Those other two vocalists, Jake E Berg and Henrik Englund I can take or leave frankly. Their clean/harsh interchanges are OK, but nothing one man couldn't do just as well surely, and it isn't their voices that carry tracks like 'Drop Dead Cynical', the title track, 'Digital World' or 'Exhale'; It's the pop hooks that make Amaranthe the extraordinary beast they clearly are, and no amount of frankly dull coarse-throated bawling from Englund can change that.

Elsewhere there are some nice riffs and solos provided by guitarist Olof Mörck, a man who rivals Arch Enemy's Michael Amott for taste and restraint – his playing never overtakes a song, always leaving enough room for those all-important vocal snares, but at the end of the day his role is merely as a support player, and he fulfils his duties well.

Amaranthe's music is simple, yet devastatingly effective. They surely don't appeal to everyone, but equally they surely don't deserve the derision that's been heaped upon them from some quarters either.

They are an entry level Metal band, built to capture youngsters not yet hip to our world but with a sneaking idea that they might like what they find with a little investigation. Every one of us has a band that fulfilled that service – why shouldn't it be Amaranthe for this generation?


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