By Kaylie Cullinan
Back in October, Swedish metal band Amaranthe released their fourth album, Maximalism. The album stayed true to the band’s signature musical blend of electronic, dance, pop, and metal. A quick read of some Youtube comments reveals that many fans thought this new album was more pop-influenced than their previous ones, and they are disappointed. These criticisms come on top of the ones from people who think the entire crossover genre isn’t “real metal,” criticisms that are again found easily in the comments on any Amaranthe music video.
Maximalism is a bit more pop-focused than their previous albums, but to say it has entirely gone into a different genre is an overstatement. Amaranthe has three vocalists: two clean singers and a screamer. They have always had a lead singer with a pop voice. Elize Ryd is unashamedly “girly” on and off the stage. She wears makeup, she puts effort into her outfits, and she posts silly pictures on Instagram. She is also a dancer, so she usually dances in their music videos, and sometimes she’s wearing tight-fitting clothes or showing some skin, but this is not a shift in style; she has been doing this since their first album. Elize, and Amaranthe as a whole, have always been pop-influenced. Even though they have not always had the same harsh vocalist, with the position shifting from Andreas Solveström to Henrik Englund Wilhemsson, their screamer has always had a smaller part in the songs than the clean vocalists. Again, this isn’t a style change. The songs may be a little more electronic, but that sound is still backed by the usual guitar, bass, and drums.
Amaranthe is currently touring North America in support of Maximalism. Their closest show is in New York, and it will be worth the drive. However, it will be missing someone. On February 8th, the band, in a single Facebook post, announced that they had released a music video for their single “Boomerang,” reminded fans that they were heading out on tour, and officially let the world know that their other singer, Jake E., was leaving the band. He had nothing but positive things to say about the band and their fans. Jake had already announced in November that he would be taking a break from the band to pursue other interests. He had planned to come back to the band, but has now decided not to. Luckily for the band, they had already planned on his absence during the tour, so they have someone to sing his parts for at least the North American tour.
Metal bands have, in the past, generally not let the absence of a singer stop them from putting on a show. Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish fired their second singer, Anette Olzon, in the middle of the North American leg of their Imaginaerum World Tour. They didn’t cancel a single show. Instead, they had the girls that their opening band, Kamelot, was touring with do the singing for them. The band only needed them for one show before they flew in Dutch singer Floor Jansen, who continued to tour with them until she became an official member of the band. On their previous North American tour, Amaranthe themselves had a substitute screamer because Henrik’s wife was having a baby. Jake E.’s absence will be noticed, but the show must go on, and it will.
Amaranthe’s tour will hit 24 cities in the US and Canada. They will have three vocalists with them, as they always have. They will play a blend of pop and metal, as they always have. They will put on a great show, as they always have. They will continue to have people telling them they don’t belong in metal, but they will keep on making metal music, as they always have.