The Swedish singer Anette Olzon probably doesn’t need a detailed introduction. Since her departure from Nightwish in 2012, she has not been musically idle, but has launched a number of projects such as The Dark Element, made guest appearances, and started a solo career. In 2014, her first solo album „Shine“ was released, which Anette described as a very personal album. „Shine“ received mostly positive reactions, so of course, I was all the more curious about the follow-up „Strong“, which saw the light of day on September 10th.
Anette says that the album is different from its predecessor „Shine“, both lyrically and musically. The lyrics are „heavier and darker“; apparently, Anette seems to be processing a lot. She further explains that she was inspired by bands like Dimmu Borgir and In Flames. Indeed, the 11 new songs are actually heavier and faster, but leave no doubt that Anette brings in her own style, which definitely contains symphonic and keyboard elements. But overall, I evaluate „Strong“ as solid, melodic rock music, combined with clear metal influences. The album was written and produced by Anette and multi-instrumentalist Magnus Karlsson, who has also worked with Primal Fear, Kiske/Somerville and others. Further support can be found in the growls done by her husband, Johan Husgafvel.
But let’s get to the most important thing, the musical checkup. The 52-minutes work opens with „Bye Bye Bye“, a vivid tune to shout along with, which immediately makes you take notice. Anette presents her vocal range here, but that’s not all, some growls and a well-done guitar solo ensure absolute listening pleasure. „Sick of You“ is also one of my personal favorites. The rhythm and melody of this song got immediately under my skin, plus a very catchy chorus that sticks right away. A really strong five-minutes jewel, well done!
Whether it was intended or not, which I leave open, some tracks remind me a bit of Nightwish in places, such as the title track „Strong“, which would have fit on „Imaginaerum“ (in my humble opinion her best album with the Finnish symphonic metal kings) as well. I guess that sometimes it is not avoidable to look back on one’s musical past, but she probably knows best. Nevertheless, her second solo-album undoubtedly bears her own personal signature. How individually and mature her music has grown, is proven by the bombastic goosebumps ballad „Sad Lullaby“, which is underlaid with almost dramatic keyboard sounds and choirs. The bombast is not exaggerated, it sounds really good. One of the album’s peaks, hats off and respect!
„Parasite“, the first single, is maybe the heaviest and most aggressive track on the album. Fast-paced, with double bass drums and yet melodiously, the song is leaving a lasting impression. „It’s a song about those who create disaster in this world with their lies, their schemes, their greed and hate“, Anette explains. A dark song that is supposed to shake you up. „Fantastic Fanatic“ knows how to please with fat riffs, symphonic arrangements and a catchy chorus. Another song that got stuck in my ears and didn’t want to get out. In the haunting „Who Can Save Them“?, I really like the threatening growls („Legalised greed, more, more, more!“). The guitar solo also sounds damn good. Further recommendations on my part would be the dashing „Catcher of my Dreams“ and „Hear Them Roar“ (what awesome hook lines!), as well as the final „Roll the Dice“, with which Anette knows how to convince vocally again.
No, Anette Ingegerd Olsson didn’t do things by halves with „Strong“. In any case, I heard a dedicated, well-written, -arranged and -produced album with which Anette brings herself to mind impressively as a solo artist. One should always be careful with superlatives, but I’ll make an exception and say that this album is her best musical work since her time with Nightwish. „Shine“ wasn’t bad at all, but her new album is a step-up again. Also, the fact that everything turned out a little darker than on the previous album doesn’t bother me, on the contrary. „Strong“ is a serious and critical album of solid character that is musically really gorgeous. But these are only my personal impressions. Everyone may judge it for themselves, but I definitely give a clear recommendation. Or to use the words of famous compatriots of her to speak: Thank you for the music, Anette!
Release date: September 10, 2021
Label: Frontiers Music S.r..l.
1. Bye Bye Bye
2. Sick Of You
3. I Need To Stay
6. Sad Lullaby
7. Fantastic Fanatic
8. Who Can Save Them
9. Catcher Of My Dreams
10. Hear Them Roar
11. Roll The Dice