Allen/ Olzon – Army of Dreamers (Frontiers Music)

Wednesday, 14th September 2022
Rating: 8 / 10

Russell Allen and Anette Olzon are premiere singers well-established in the hard rock/metal scene, especially through their work over the years with Symphony X for the former and ex-Nightwish for the latter. Makes sense to showcase their talents in another vehicle, pairing together the multi-instrumentalist, songwriting, and production skills of Magnus Karlsson for this second album Army of Dreamers under the Allen/ Olzon banner. These eleven tracks sit in a heavier symphonic metal veneer, the dual vocal approach conveying passionate dynamic textures that match the versatile musical proceedings.

Crafting solid main hooks is paramount to listener enjoyment long-term – Magnus carefully constructing undeniable melodic components right out of the gate to branch out in commercial-oriented pastures through bridges/choruses that glide gracefully to the stratosphere. The keyboard orchestration, main guitar riffs, tight bass/drum parts (Anders Köllerfors the kit master as Magnus handles guitars, bass, and keyboards) provide upright foundational pinpoints that propel Russell and Anette to resonate in all registers of their professional wheelhouses. The speedier, exotic shred-oriented lead breaks and adventurous, progressive/ pulsating twists separate a song like “A Million Skies” from the pack, while the mid-tempo anthem stomp throughout “I Am Gone” gives off a Delain/ Within Temptation vibe. Russell’s muscular charge next to the softer, soothing register of Anette allows the material to flow in cinematic, theatrical angles – bursting out of the gate for the Kamelot-esque title track opener, while the six-minute plus epic “All Alone” travels semi-ballad/melodic metal brilliance, the majestic chorus sure to stay embedded in the recesses of your brain for weeks on end. Ending on a sonic whirlwind note through shifting symphonic, power, and progressive parts for “Never Too Late”, it’s evident that all parties involved put their heart and soul into this outing, even when many worry about the ‘project’ status tag.

Previously collaborating with Allen on the Allen/Lande albums, Magnus understands what it takes to get the best performances and shine the brightest light on these elite singers. Army of Dreamers may not necessarily be considered the most original effort in the melodic, symphonic metal category – but this material possesses enough weight, hooks, and memorable moments for appeal in those invested in the catalogs of these musicians.

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