Release Date: 31st March 2014
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
Shall we spend this entire review debating Nightwish and their evident rotating door of lead vocalists, or shall we try to avoid the obvious and focus on the good lady's debut studio opus?
I've already tackled this album for review on another online publication, and was approached by the muscle here at MetalTalk Towers to re-assess the virtues of 'Shine' and do another review for those of you who worship the voice of early Alyson Avenue. You cannot say that we here at MetalTalk don't look after you.
Containing ten songs which flow with an elegance that was once bestowed upon Kate Bush and Loreena McKennitt amongst many other fine examples of female singers, this gently majestic collection of soaring and sweeping melodies refuses to follow in the exact footsteps left behind by her former Finnish Gothic Metal outfit.
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Neither is this album an echo to her Melodic Rock days of Alyson Avenue. Instead Anette furrows in newfound glades and ditches that hide the studio presence of the modern, whilst showcasing her beautiful vocal talents which are associated with those previous musical outlets.
Already launched into the public domain are singles in the form of 'Falling' and what Olzon clarifies is her "divorce song"; 'Lies'. The latter is the longest track on the album and carries itself very comfortably on an infectious soaring hook, whilst the former initially starts out with the slightest hint of Eastern promise before introducing an atmospheric vocal presence and some understated keys. The chorus explodes through a collage of instrumentation as if reaching out to a grasping hand, saving it from drowning in a sandstorm.
The production values are complementary and offer a sheen to the songs which adds nicely to the personality of 'Shine'. Highlights on the album arrive in the shape of 'Invincible' which offers up a fragile and lonely vocal initially, naked of backing instruments before gradually placing each piece of the puzzle to eventually provide a complete tapestry.
This ballad is only one side of what 'Shine' has to share as the title track takes the listener on a different path. The guitar is there, but not in-your-face. In this instant the guitar is wielded as a companion to the modern drum sound and the accompaniment of strings which fill out the sound.
The chorus floats as the slightest hint of Madonna casts a shadow when focussing on Olzon's vocal performance. While we're making comparisons, if you wrap your ears around 'Floating' you'll hear possibly some hints of Madonna again and in the quirky arrangements, maybe a Kate Bush vibe too in places. Mind you, in my head these comparisons are with specific eras of these artists, not a generalisation.
This Swedish vocalist has been working on this album since 2009, and to be fair it isn't a band album. It feels like a safe release though, daring to go nowhere near an adventurous exhibition but instead showcasing her vocal ability and providing an accessible musical backdrop. On all of these accounts, it is a success. Personally, I was hoping for something a little more inventive, but maybe these things are around the corner and still to come.
If there is any message presented within 'Shine', it is one of Olzon's favourite philosophical outlooks and that is to look forward, and don't dwell in the past. It will be interesting to see how she tackles her career from this point onwards, but there's certainly little here to offend or provoke any major intolerance.
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