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Amaranthe - Massive Addictive Award winner

Massive Addictive
by Daniel Fox at 18 September 2014, 11:16 AM

Where to start…?

If you have yet to hear the name AMARANTHE, there is something terribly amiss. Taking Sweden by melodious storm in 2011, they have since swept across the rest of Europe, to the Americas, and have set their eyes on the rest of the world. 2014 sees the release of MASSIVE ADDICTIVE, a year-and-a-half later follow-up to "The Nexus", once again with one of Metal's greatest producers, Jacob Hansen, at the studio helm, his trademark work instantly recognisable. New to the ranks is new screamer, Henrik, replacing previous coarse bellower, Andy; they simply could not have made a better choice. Now, you have likely already seen or heard press statements; there is a developing consensus that this is to be their greatest, boldest and most dynamic work to date. They are not wrong.

Truth be told, the only other time an album has had an affect on my listening habits, and the way I approach music, was my initial exposure to ANUBIS GATE's "The Detached". MASSIVE ADDICTIVE is 12 reasons why that had to happen again. It begins with the explosive, jarring, twisted-and-shorn metal of "Dynamite", concaving one's face with heavy riffs, a similar approach to "Hunger", but with a slightly-slower, heavier, chuggier approach. This is one of the tracks that contains, what I like to call, a "holy shit, Elize is here" moment, the others belonging on "Unreal" and "Danger Zone". Her angelic vocal sirens takes the album by storm from the onset, the first verse more powerful than anything I have previously heard her perform, with a seemingly more unrestrained approach to her infinite belts. Of course, this is also where you will first hear the new guy. His percussive, controlled, deep and rumbling approach to growling, will leave scorch marks, and certainly brings a new kind of heaviness to the music.

Upon relistening to the already-released single, "Drop Dead Cynical", I immediately noticed an interesting change in approach that the band seems to have taken to the vocal layering. Jake's vocals were one of my favourite things about the band's music, myself coming from a Power/Melodic metal listening background, but his vocal interactions with Elize are much more varied on this album. On tracks like the new single and "Over and Done", bar some of his trademark verse belts that he performs, he seems to take a backing-vocal approach in the choruses, allowing Elize's infinite range to flourish on the choruses whereas, on previous albums, every chorus was a perfectly harmonized duet. Both of these arrangement styles I am a huge fan of, but the vocal dynamics present on the album are a billowing breath of fresh air.

I must draw from the rest of the tracks to elaborate and better emphasise this difference. The title track is perhaps the greatest testament to Jake and Elize's symbiotic synergy as contrasting vocalists, at certain times belting out with individual vocal beltings, but contrastingly with one of the best choruses, if not THE BEST chorus the band has ever written, their voices a perfectly-balanced equilibrium. This musical relationship is further emphasised on one of the album's two power ballads, "True". Along with "Exhale", Jake truly shines on this piece, a return to the dualistic evocations of the first album."Digital World" is the album's "Electroheart", a comparison I lovingly make where Elize's voice explodes and cascades at the forefront and even more so on "Over And Done", but, along with "Danger Zone" is also the best showcasing of Henrik's vocal ability. His subterranean bellows are perfectly suited to be the chisel in front of the hammer of the band's ridiculously heavy riffs, whether at the forefront of a pummelling breakdown, or a shattering, percussive pulse.

The riffs, the fucking riffs. The stringsmen, Olof and Johan, along with Danish drum virtuoso Morten, have once again blown me away. Further variation in musical dynamics is shown in the more-obviously metallic, technical precision of tracks like "Trinity", "Danger Zone" and "An Ordinary Abnormality", the latter exuding Olof's background of, and love for, Power Metal. These tracks perhaps best highlight the instrumentalists' technically precise delivery of blisteringly melodic, and jarringly rhythmic, arrangements. Olof's leads are heard through the entire album, but is plainly obvious that the man is a stellar guitarist, but not the least bit conceited, leaving room for each and every one of the band's musicians to shine, both individually and as a sextet. The rhythmic deliveries of Johan and Morten, both forever locked in a battle for "heaviest motherfucker", are an integral part of what has caused the band's music to transcend even that of the previous albums.

"Skyline" and "Exhale" were two completely unique entities to come out of the AMARANTHE discography, and for the bright light and brand-new sounds they bring to an AMARANTHE record. "Skyline" is more evocative of the transient Metalcore-Rock of Swedish bands like SONIC SYNDICATE, with a swinging, roller-coaster, head-spinning approach to upbeat riffs. "Exhale" beautifully closes the album, as I said Jake once again returning to the spotlight with his solo deliveries, but is special in and of itself, for bringing a beautiful, powerful and mid-tempo Symphonic-Gothic Metal style to the band's music, evocative of WITHIN TEMPTATION and DELAIN. Intentional or not, I most welcome these sounds.

The choice in new screamer, the dynamic vocal texturing, the everything; to say that AMARANTHE have made a perfect album is too closed a statement. MASSIVE ADDICTIVE is infinite.

5 Star Rating

1. Dynamite
2. Drop Dead Cynical
3. Trinity
4. Massive Addictive
5. Digital World
6. True
7. Unreal
8. Over And Done
9. Danger Zone
10. Skyline
11. An Ordinary Abnormality
12. Exhale
Olof Mörck - Guitars
Johan Andreassen - Bass
Morten Løwe Sørensen - Drums
Elize Ryd - Vocals
Jake E. - Vocals
Henrik Englund - Vocals
Record Label: Spinefarm Records


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