As I mentioned in my review of Amaranthe’s solid third record, this Swedish band’s brand of electronic pop-metal is not for everyone (especially metal purists). The group embraces the ridiculous spirit of metal, where everything is purposely massive, so the smart move is to continue embracing what makes them unique and fun: big riffs, bigger choruses, and simple yet efficient songwriting. So where does Amaranthe go next? Do they embrace their pop sensibilities and go full-on Euro-pop, or do they lean a little heavier on their melodeath inspiration? Can Amaranthe maximize its jubilant potential?
Interestingly, Maximalism finds the group doubling down on its disparate parts to create their most radio-friendly and heaviest tunes to date, so yes, the band’s fourth album is aptly titled. In true Amaranthe fashion, it appears the band doesn’t care about anything other than embracing who they want to be, and what they want to do is create the most infectious metallic songs around. “Supersonic” and “Boomerang” are easily the band’s catchiest tracks to date, with CDC-watch-level contagious melodies and some impressive musicianship to boot.
Maximalism is definitely Amaranthe trying to let its melodic ambitions fly. The songs here all are around the three to three-and-a-half minute range, and the tracks certainly follow the standard verse-chorus formula. However, simple structures don’t mean boring results, as the album features Amaranthe’s best choruses and most melodic, impressive guitar and synth work. It will never dazzle you; however, everything is performed with enough earnest flair that you get the sense this isn’t simply pandering to the lowest denominator. In fact, lead vocalist Elize Ryd’s voice is at its most impassioned throughout. She even carries some of the lesser tunes like “That Song” (a deadly hook, for sure), “Limitless” and “Endlessly”.
Everything doesn’t always work (see the just mentioned tunes), but you get the sense that Amaranthe just wanted to go for broke on its pop-metal style, and they definitely succeed in that sense. Maximalism is easily the band’s best work yet, featuring the group’s greatest tunes so far, with a few clunkers in for unfortunate measure.