Album review: ANETTE OLZON – Strong

Frontiers Records [release date 10.09.21]

A Symphonic Rock album for the ABBA generation, Anette (Dark Element/ Nightwish) Olzon’s collaboration with maestro, Magnus Karlsson, titled Strong, is huge, confident and full of heartstopping hooks. It has a lovely gloss to it… yes, it’s edgy and it’s aggressive in places, but at its pop opera core it’s designed to please the crowd.

As we move through the music we are constantly surrounded by towering, wall to wall choruses and harmonies. Olzon’s commanding mezzo soprano vocals continually swoop and soar. The dark pop tones of the eminently catchy ‘Sick Of You’ and ‘Strong’ remind you of peak ABBA, effortlessy bridging between dance, pop and the baroque grandeur that illuminated the band’s late seventies’ albums.

The high impact, high speed bpms and amphetamine fuelled keyboards of ‘Bye Bye Bye’ and ‘Parasite’ are symphonic metal’s equivalent of a major event firework display, each climaxing in an explosion of sound and light on the chorus.

‘I Need To Stay’ and ‘Sad Lullaby’ have the kind of coherence and charisma that can only come from a pairing of artists who have been on the same page from the off. Karlsson’s shifting mix of heavyweight orchestration and shimmering percussive rhythms are the perfect setting for the romantic obsessions in Olzon’s lyrics.

Throughout the album, Karlsson throws in a line or two of low growling notes. They are a little unsettling at first… but it soon becomes evident that they’re there simply to anchor the music to its heavy metal roots.

The quality shades off a little toward the end of the album. No surprise … consistency at this level is often elusive. ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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Featured Albums w/c 15 November 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 MEMORIA AVENUE Memoria Avenue (Frontiers)
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14:00-16:00 HANNAH JAMES & TOBY KUHN Sleeping Spirals (Jigdoll Records)

Power Plays w/c 15 November 2021 (Mon-Fri)

THE FORGOTTEN Interstellar (FiXT Noir)
QUILL Riding Rainbows (indie)
DEAD REYNOLDS Uninspired (The Fort)
CAVALCADE Dreaming About (Golden Robot)
HANNAH ALDRIDGE Sinking (indie)
GREYHAVEN All Candy (Rude Records)

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