ANETTE OLZON – Shine

Anette Olzon - ShineEverybody goes: “Who??” Well, no one’s gonna blame you for that because Miss Olzon is a rather anonymous woman. For all you “who?”‘s out there, Anette Olzon is the woman who replaced Tarja Turunen as the singer in Finnish pomp-metallers Nightwish. She sang on Nightwish’s two latest – and by far their best – albums Dark Passion Play (2007) and Imaginaerum (2011) before she got fired / left the band under not so friendly circumstances in 2012. She is now replaced by Dutch vocalist Floor Hansen , formerly of After Forever. If Anette hadn’t joined Nightwish, I doubt that I would even know who she was, let alone write this review. Before Nightwish, Anette sang in AOR / West Coast / Pop band Alyson Avenue and with them she released two albums, Presence Of Mind (2000) and Omega (2004), none of which has caused any stir around the world. Alyson Avenue weren’t the most talked about band in the world before Anette’s membership in Nightwish, but that changed since then and the fact that the Olzon-fronted albums are Nightwish’s most successful albums to date also made Alyson Avenue a bit taled about, so the band decided to pick up the pieces and give it a go with a new singer. You gotta strike while the iron is hot, right? Anyway, the  first news after the break up was that Anette wouldn’t embark on a solo career because she wanted to concentrate on her family (boyfriend and two sons), but I guess singing and making music really is in her blood, so that’s why her first ever solo album sees the light of day now. Where Anette’s musical roots really lies is really hard to tell because the West Coast pop/rock of Alyson Avenue is a sharp contrast to the much heavier and darker sound that Nightwish brings along, so it was anyone’s guess how this album might turn out.

Opener “Like A Show Inside My Head” is really good. It’s actually quite heavy, but maybe not heavy in a metal way – more pop heavy and to be honest I was surprised by the heaviness of the song. The title track is a very melodic, but this one is also heavy and gives away an almost industrial vibe. The guitars are pretty metal, but it is not a metal song. After a real strong opening, dullness sets in already by song number three, “Floating”. “Floating” is a ballad that sounds like they have tried to squeeze in a pretentious musical in just one song – yawn! But things starts to shape up again by the next track, “Lies”, also a ballad, but this time it’s a grand one – and a great one. It’s really catchy and has every possibility to become a hit. “Hear Me” is a slow, dark tune, but not a ballad, not a total ballad, anyway – and it’s really good. “Falling” is ballad-like, but not really a softie. There are some heavy guitars on it that removes any cheesiness that might have come along for the ride. “Moving Away” however, is a ballad (I’m starting to see a pattern here…), but this is a really good one. It has a bit of a celtic feel and it reminds me of a heavier Blackmore’s Night. “One Million Faces” might just be the album’s stand out track and it has a lot in commons with the latest Nightwish album, sound wise. The album ends with “Watching From Afar”, another ballad. This also has both a celtic feel and musical vibes, but on this track, it really works.

I didn’t expect anything from this album, but it’s still better than I thought it would be – and heavier! To be honest, I thought that this album would be a mainstream radio pop album, so many songs were nice surprises. Anette is a magnificent singer and even though it would be ridiculous to say that Tarja Turunen isn’t a good singer, because she is, I still prefer Anette in Nightwish to Tarja 24/7. Anette is always enjoyable to listen to whereas Tarja has a tendency to be quite annoying most of the times. Also, Tarja’s English isn’t that much to write home about and even tough Anette probably could work on hers as well, she’s not even neaarly as bad as Tarja. So far, so good. However, this album has one problem and that is all those darned ballads. Yes, I know that most of them are really good, but it doesn’t really matter because when half of the album are ballads and another one or two has ballad-vibes, things can become a bit dull, no matter how good the songs are. In fact, the whole production suffers from being a bit “middle-of-the-road”. I would like to hear more attack and bite. Lots of very good songs here, but I would have loved more uptempo tunes. The way it is now, the whole thing tends to be a bit slow. Still, it’s nice to hear Anette behind the mike again.

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

01. Like A Show Inside My Head
02. Shine
03. Floating
04. Lies
05. Invincible
06. Hear Me
07. Falling
08. Moving Away
09. One Million Faces
10. Watching Me From Afar

 

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