Bear in mind that I'm old, all right?
No question this is a quality album with slick production. Sound-wise it's great. But my first impression after the first listen was "man, this is poppy." Now, I'm not one of those elitist metal snobs who uses the term "poppy" when referring to metal with derision. I like my fair share of poppier metal for sure, and I don't think there's anything wrong with it in general. But even I have my limits and Amaranthe really tested them.
For one thing, the three vocalists is a bit much. There are two clean vocalists, a male, Jake, and a female, Elize, and the growler, Andy. Individually, they are all strong singers, but as a trio they sound a bit bizarre. For instance, Jake sounds like he belongs in a 1990s boy band, and combined with Elize's notably strong voice (she reminds me of Anette Olzon sometimes) they sound together like a typical pop duo you'd hear on any old radio station. When you throw in the growls, it just sounds like they added that element to add some "brutality" to their sound just to give them some street cred. I don't think it works.
Writing-wise, there is nothing mindblowing here at all. The song structures are simple and are certainly pop-influenced to my ear. Most of their songs are in the low 3-minute range, with only two above the 4-minute mark. The most complex song is "Director's Cut" which is pretty decent, but like I said, not terribly mindblowing. The songs are fast and heavy and I like that about them, but the music overall isn't very complex or interesting. There are a lot of techno elements in here, too, and I'm on the fence about how I feel about them. Lyrically, the songs are pretty average, with some typical Gothic overtones. But remember I'm old, right? To my mind, they lyrics tend towards the slightly emo-ish, and that does nothing for me.
I did see on Last.fm that this band has been tagged as "pop metal" and there is a good wiki there with a definition of this term:
The term is used to reference bands within the heavy metal music subgenres that perform more accessible forms of metal, most notably nu metal, glam metal, and metalcore, due to the heavy usage of techniques used in pop music that permeate bands within these genres.
"Accessible" is a good descriptor for Amaranthe.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, and despite all of what I said above, I did enjoy this album for what it was, which was fun, fast, and catchy. Songs I particularly enjoyed were "Amaranthine", "Leave Everything Behind", "Hunger", and "Automatic." "Amaranthine" is the pinnacle of poppiness in this album, too, by the way, but I enjoyed it a lot nonetheless. They look like they are set to succeed with not only the label they've signed to, but because they are touring with Kamelot.
All told, I'm on the fence about Amaranthe. While I enjoyed parts of this album, I'm not sure they're all they're cracked up to be. But that's just me and my two cents. I will say that I'm liking this stuff better than anything Sirenia has put out lately.
But damn is "Amaranthine" catchy!
Here are some samples for you. The single "Hunger" has a pretty sleek video.
EDIT: there is a great, scathing review of this album here that I totally enjoyed, along with the accompanying comments. It's defintely worth a read!