Sweden’s Amaranthe formed in 2009 with their debut self titled release seeing the light of day in 2011. Their latest, Maximalism, is already their fourth full length album in five years. They are quite prolific songwriters and consistently unleash material at a rapid pace.
Amaranthe’s sound is driven by combining lush female melodies with the combination of both clean and guttural male vocals. Utilizing three distinct voices helps separate them from their peers and gives them a unique identity.
They are led by the airy voice of Elize Ryd, who dominates as vocalist, first gained acclaim for singing with symphonic metal act Kamelot. Her voice is powerful and she has a sultry seductive voice that draws the listener in. At times, Jake E, who handles the clean male vocals, can get lost between Ryd and Henrik Englund’s aggressive roars.
Now more than ever, Amaranthe write catchy, pop oriented metal. Their material is geared towards the mainstream and is filled with modern pop clichés. The songs have an undeniable dance-like rhythm and unforgettable melodies.
“Boomerang,” “That Song” and “Limitless” are straight out pop songs and have very little to do with hard rock or metal. They all are instantly memorable. “Boomerang” in particular will be stuck in your head long after the record is over. On “Limitless,” Ryd shows her range and employs an emotional performance that showcases how truly amazing her talent is.
At times they show that they can bring the heaviness, like on “Maximize,” “Break Down & Cry” and the destructive “Fury.” No matter how loud or aggressive the vocals and guitars get, there is a consistent gloss of a radio oriented style permeated throughout each track.
The songs are straight to the point and are built around the catchy hooks. The longest track clocks in under 4:00 minutes. The songs fly by, but unfortunately they can start to blend together as there is very little diversity. For the most part the energy and pace is kept high with the quicker tempos giving a life to the recording.
Even though the male vocalists bring an added depth to the proceedings, I can’t help but wonder if Amaranthe would be better served if Ryd took over handling all of the vocals. She is a tremendous talent and when she isn’t singing I am just waiting for her parts to start up again.
The songs on Maximalism are built for commercialism and mainstream radio would be crazy not to market this to a younger audience. Amaranthe aren’t trying to push any boundaries, but write material that is ultimately catchy with remarkable hooks, and they tremendously succeed in that department.
(released October 21st, 2016 on Spinefarm Records)