Anette Olzon: Shine

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Anette Olzon: Shine
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Anette Olzon: Shine
Folk, Gothic Rock, Power Metal
Armoury Records
February 28th, 2014 / April 7th, 2014 (North America)
Release length: 38:19
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Following her forced departure from vocal duties in Nightwish, Anette Olzon has accomplished what her predecessor has done as well and went the solo act route. Shine marks her first outing, and finds a home through Armoury Records. While delving into the Power Metal roots that started it all for her, this effort shows plenty of Gothic Rock, Folk, and even touches of Pop in the mix. There’s no doubt that Anette has the talent, but is she able to stand out on her own, or will Shine show her become another name that isn’t anything special without the Metal force that once pushed her voice to the forefront?

It all starts with “Like a Show Inside My Head,” which finds the orchestration working for the lyrical content, though sometimes coming off more like a dark Industrial piece due some hollowing effects and repetition to the drumming. It’s an interesting performance that shows some restraint in the vocals, all the while feeding that Gothic Rock sensation. At first this seems like a poor choice for the first track, but it makes sense as an introduction to the album if you consider what happened, as well as her involvement with the Imaginaerum soundtrack and film. This might be how she looks back at it all, and if so, it seems to be a little on the positive side, though a bit regretful thanks to the somewhat somber music, not to mention that the aforementioned repetition acts as if it is all a show repeating in her person’s mind. While this may not be the exact reasoning behind it, but even if that’s what the lyrics represent, this one still takes a few spins to fully appreciate. In the end it’s the most suiting piece to start what sounds more like an experimentation than an album that has a clear musical direction.

Shine boasts some simple symphonic pieces that do manage to stick out, though sometimes carry a bit of a mainstream Gothic Rock meets Alternative Rock vibe similar to bands like Halestorm and Evanescence. “Shine” really layers that in through the keyboards and louder bass guitar during the upbeat chorus, though the verses are a little darker thanks to the heavier distortion used on the rather basic riffs. “Falling” has a little more technicality to it, but sounds a little lighter overall. The bass seems a bit louder, giving a nice pulsing sound that grounds the uplifting moments in more of a Rock foundation. But it’s “All of the Lies” that really becomes a moving experience. The way the guitars and bass mix together in the chorus with a stronger push from the keyboards and vocals really solidify a good amount of emotion. Even the passage around two minutes shows a truly human moment for Anette that this album really needs more of and simply doesn’t outside of certain notes hit from time to time in this song alone.

“Moving Away” is where the Folk touch really starts to come through. The acoustic guitars and emptier audio help to weave a nice little wooden atmosphere with that sleek mainstream Rock touch through the keyboards. It has a dynamic push that tries to be a bit epic during the chorus, especially towards the end, and for a simpler softer piece it does its job well. While it’s not bad, there could have been a little more to the music, such as expanding on the nice little tribal drum beat that fades with the song’s last minute. It does act as a nice little set up to “Invincible” though. The addition of a flute at times makes the Folk atmosphere much more believable compared to the previous track, and the higher notes that come off like a harp perfectly compliment Anette’s vocals and the echo effect on them. The eighties Rock guitar solo a little past the half-way point is a nice touch as well, completing the surprisingly beautiful performance. This only continues to solidify through the rest of the album, though “Hear Me” actually shows a little more of an Adult Contemporary influence to it, almost abandoning the Folk Rock output entirely.

The only major blemish on this release is the song “Floating.” This is one of the more Progressive pieces of the album, and it’s thanks largely to the effects utilized. While some songs do sound a bit digital, such as “Like a Show Inside My Head” with the drums that sound more like they were created on a drum machine than an actual drummer, this one is like listening to an song inspired by Burzum‘s .midi file days, except upbeat and sugar coated instead of morose and atmospheric. Instead of coming off like a digital medieval-era piece it sounds like someone singing over the sixteen-bit musical score of an early Golden Axe game with some additional drums thrown in. It’s just out and place, and honestly just sounds bad all around.

This release is essentially two EPs slapped together into one album. The first half is really uplifting and happy, while the last excluding “Hear Me” is a much softer, simpler acoustic driven Folk set with more heart that allows Anette Olzon‘s range stand out in surprising ways. Even though it all comes off like a litmus test, between the emotional music and vocals that sometimes bring out a little pain and heartache, it’s hard to not grow an appreciation for this album to where you will find yourself coming back to listen to certain tracks, if not the whole thing. If you enjoyed Anette’s performances in Nightwish, then Shine will present some more unexplored sides that are as surprising as they are enjoyable. I do hope that it’s the latter half that tests well because if Shine‘s sweet and happy sugar-coated music and lyrical content early on didn’t give me diabetes yet, I will forever hold it partially responsible in the event I am ever diagnosed with it.

01. Like a Show Inside My Head – 3:38
02. Shine – 3:30
03. Floating – 3:32
04. All of the Lies – 5:25
05. Falling – 4:54
06. Moving Away – 5:22
07. Invincible – 3:40
08. One Million Faces – 3:18
09. Watching Me from Afar – 4:38
10. Hear Me – 3:27
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Anette Olzon

Digital review copy of this release provided by Armoury Records via Earsplit PR.