After respite, charge! Swedish power force embarks on another foray into the fray.
It took this quintet a major line-up overhaul and a nine-year hiatus to fly their heroic banners high again, but while Esa Ahonen’s guitar doesn’t break any new ground here, the record’s tuneful attack is predictably cinematic both sides of its title track. There’s a story and a gripping method to tell it, traditional motifs weaving into an orchestral scope of metallic stripe when pieces such as “All The Kingsmen” marry clang to melody, although heavily compressed rhythm section limits overall heaviness.
It may enhance the dance groove on “Flying Over The Snowy Fields” or “Prepare For War” whose riff is rather glittery, whereas “This War Is Useless” turns the album’s belligerence around, with another ballad, “Heroes Of The Day,” bemoaning the state the world – imaginary and otherwise – has gotten into. Yet if “Mean Streak” adheres to classic hard rock formula, as twin axes chop the number’s proggy veneer, “Can’t Stop The Heat” – which harks back to the titular topic – has all the makings of a pop hit, albeit Mattias Lilja convincingly handles all the nuances of the band’s current operation.
So once a choir is unfurled for “Freedom” to demonstrate a full tapestry of their sonic adventure, hope and glory descend upon the listener. A worthy comeback.