Angelica - ThriveFor everyone out there that have heard or heard of the band The Murder Of My Sweet (which is, I guess, not that many…), the name Angelica Rylin probably rings a bell. The dark bombshell is the singer in that band (project?) and they have released two albums, Divanity (2010) and Bye Bye Lullaby (2012), both reviewed on this site. The music lies somewhere around the gothic, but commercial hard rock that Evanescence or Within Temptation plays. But the fact is, when you think of TMOMS, you think of Angelica Rylin so the fact that she would release a solo album isn’t that far-fetched. Everybody who has heard TMOMS knows that Angelica has a big voice with a very wide range, and to be honest, it’s really strange that this girl hasn’t already made a big noise as it seems weird that she hasn’t been offered a solo deal by some commercial pop producer ages ago. Or maybe she has, but decided to decline. If that’s the case, then one must admire the determination to go with her own beliefs and that she chose to go her own way musically instead of just being another one of those manufactured female pop stars. When Rylin cites her heroes as Robin Beck, the Wilson sisters Ann and Nancy of Heart and Leigh Matty of Romeo’s Daughter, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the music on Angelica’s debut album Thrive will sound like. And when you see that Frontiers records is releasing the album, all doubts are gone – this is AOR – and that you will know without hearing a note of her music.

And AOR it is – nothing new under the sun here at all. To play AOR these days is risky business. First of all, AOR has never been credible – not even when it was huge. It’s not huge anymore and everything has already been done within the genre so to not fall flat on your back there are two things that are more important than anything else: 1) To write brilliant songs. 2) To create a sound of your own. Well at least, have your own identity even though the songs may not be all that original. Too very often, AOR artists forget about at least one of those “musts”, often both of them. Also, to have a beautiful woman to front a project like this is so old that it’s almost a cliché, so miss Rylin has some big shoes to fill here. Fortunately she seems to have both the talent and confidence to pull this one off. She also had some major help to write and record this album. Former Murder Of My Sweet band mate Daniel Flores is at the helm of the production and has also helped in the songwriting department, together with Robert Säll (Work Of Art / W.E.T.) and Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) as well as contributing herself to some of the songs. Guitar playing guests includes Jesper Strömblad (In Flames) and Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear). Opening track and first single “Breaking My Heart” really blows me away, a great AOR rocker in the vein of Norwegian AOR wonder Issa’s music – this really should be a big hit. “I Am Strong” is great and a real AOR killer, “Can’t Stop Love” is a very good power ballad, done the way power ballads should be done, “Nothing Else You Can Break” is a bit slower, like a half ballad, but very good and “Lovers In Paradise” smells like a hit miles away – if this had been 1989, that ballad would have been in the top of the charts. But there are more hit potential here – “You Will Never Win” is AOR that rocks with the best of them and “Take Me To Your Heart” is ridiculously catchy.

As I wrote, there is nothing new under the sun here, but still a very good debut. However, I must stress, this could be a bit more personal. Sure, Angelica’s voice is her own and no one else’s, but this kind of music – and production – makes me think of Issa all the way through. Even the layout of the album cover and the layout of her name on the cover looks much too alike Issa’s covers – it actually borders on a rip-off. They need to better that in the future. Also, the production could be a bit more raw and what’s more important, she really needs to work on her English – as it sounds now, it’s easy to hear that she’s Swedish – and too much Swenglish can actually be somewhat annoying to listen to. Other than that, no complaints from this guy. If you’re into AOR and female artists like Robin Beck and Issa, then I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this. Let’s just hope that this isn’t a one-off and that she keeps her solo career going. I take this over Murder Of My Sweet any day.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)


1. Breaking My Heart
2. I Am Strong
3. To Your Rescue
4. Can’t Stop Love
5. Nothing Else You Can Break
6. Riding Out The Storm
7. Rain On My Parade
8. Losers In Paradise
9. You Will Never Win
10. This Kiss Is Just For You
11. I’m Not Waiting
12. Take Me To Your Heart

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