Anette Olzon – Strong (Frontiers)

Friday, 17th September 2021
Rating: 8/10

Certainly no stranger to the metal scene, with her accomplished work alongside Nightwish, and currently with The Dark Element, Anette Olzon has also been hard at work as a solo artist.  Strong is her second solo album, following up 2014’s Shine, and comes across as a heavier beast.  Something that is sure to please fans of her work with the aforementioned bands.

Sonically, much of Strong seems on par with what she has been doing with The Dark Element.  Bombastic yet aggressive symphonic metal that leans in a bit of a modern direction.  Opener “Bye Bye Bye” works as an excellent mood-setter and kickoff, which Olzon’s soaring and elegant vocals atop some driving metallic riffs and a potent chorus.  As an album like this should be, there are some absolutely killer choruses that thrill and charm their way into listeners’ ears.  “Sick of You” or “Hear Them Roar” sitting towards the top of the pile, but it’s a tough call with a release that is strengthened by the individuality of each track.  While It nestles quite easily into Olzon’s strong arm of symphonic, tracks switch from those sitting at almost the melodic death metal end of the spectrum like “Parasite” to a rousing and almost ballad-y “Sad Lullabye” to more electronically enhanced and more pop-metal cuts like “Fantastic Fanatic.”  That span of tracks sit right next to each other, offering full proof of the dynamics at play over the course of Strong.  Lastly, Olzon’s voice as the centerpiece, is given the space that it needs and stands as tall as it should (even when being accompanied by some growled vocals on heavier tracks).

Strong adequately describes its itself by name alone.  Symphonic metal fans are no doubt going to gobble up a release such as this, particularly Olzon’s following, as it plays into all of the genre’s (and her own) strengths with ease and might.

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