On first impression, Swedish power-metal pop-synth melodeath cupcakes Amaranthe come across like the older, wiser forebears of Babymetal, all glossy vocals and cutesy sing-a-longs wrapped in a shiny power metal blanket, but scratch a little deeper into new album ‘Maximalism’ and they simultaneously reveal both more, and sadly less. On the one hand, tracks like ‘On The Rocks’ and ‘Fury’ blend the solid riffs of metal and the melodic sensibilities of mainstream pop with cheesy 80s power rock vibes to create songs that bristle with energy and fun. ‘Supersonic’ in particular pounds like a vaudevillian polar bear performing Edguy in the West End, while the arena-ready ’21’ will sound massive live, with flags aloft and fists a-pumping. At its best, ‘Maximalism’ is a tap-dancing, head-banging Joker grin carved out of parmesan, however it’s a fine balance, and sadly at its worst it plagiarises those pop tropes to depths that make for tough listening. Whilst the Utah Saints / The Shamen-esque synths that open and underpin ‘Fireball’ are jarring at first but ultimately forgettable, ‘Limitless’ sounds like Girls Aloud penned a Disney anthem, and ‘Endlessly’ comes on like a karaoke Kelly Clarkson airgrabbing through Celine Dion’s greatest hits, and the less said about ‘Boomerang’ the better. ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’ by Dead or Alive was begrudgingly hummable when released in 1984, but to Frankenstein it the way the band have here is tantamount to a war crime. That said, the average neighbourhood metalhead is probably not the target audience for Amaranthe, the twee, empowering lyrics and mass pillaging of pop suggesting a more tween, get-em-while-they’re-young approach. If Amaranthe is the gateway into heavier music for a new generation, that’s awesome, but MonkHammer will stick to the meatier end of the wedge thankyou very much, and when we want to listen to Girls Aloud, we’ll listen to Girls Aloud dammit!