Anette Olzon / Rapture, A Symphony Of Passion, Oozing Quality

One of the absolute best things about writing assignments for MetalTalk is the opportunity to hear new music or re-acquaint yourself with artists you have heard of in the past. That’s exactly what I’m doing with this review of Rapture, the third solo album from Anette Olzon.

Anette Olzon – Rapture (Frontiers Music)

Release: 10 May 2024

Words: Mark Rotherham

Back in my distant past, I had never heard of Nightwish. Then, a friend lent me a copy of Dark Passion Play, and I was hooked. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live, and the Passion Play songs that make it onto the setlist are always epic moments.

But until I heard Rapture, that was the only Anette Olzon I had heard, and now I regret not listening to more of her work. Because, believe me, it’s well worth checking out.

Rapture kicks off very nicely, thank you, with the single Heed The Call. It’s got a nice orchestral intro, leading you into a big production. You know you’re very much into Anette territory. I’m taken back to Passion Play, and her influence on Nightwish is here for all to see, although this offering might have a slightly more commercial slant.

That’s not a bad thing, though, and it sits very nicely with the fast, staccato riffing, a nice catchy chorus, and the obligatory doomy, ominous and threatening backing vocals, courtesy of Johan Husgafvel, who has been credited with ‘growl.’ You’ll not want to meet him on a dark night.

Then things momentarily slow down for the title track, Rapture. Well, for a few seconds anyway, with a light piano intro lulling you in before the riffing hits you right between the sky blues. Anette’s mystical, mythical lyrics are perfectly complemented by her vocal range, and the orchestral sound and tight distortion guitar are a combination that you think shouldn’t work. But just like chips and gravy, it does. Fragility and power combined, sitting perfectly comfortably together.

There’s more from the same playbook with Day Of Wrath. Anette’s light-touch voice mixes with the growl, like a Heavy Metal musical version of Beauty And The Beast. The barren lyrics warn us all about the day of wrath that is coming. Fanciful lyrics, perhaps, but even the most cursory glance at the news can tell us that this could very well be art’s interpretation of life that’s happening right here, right now. That is in itself a sure sign of great Metal and great music, where the listener can interpret the song and apply it to their own world, their own view.

The formula’s pretty much here by the fourth song, Requiem. It really carries you along, and the pace is perfect. Tight guitars, hammer blow drumming, and Anette’s voice sew everything together in a graceful, delicate, and steel-hard whole that feels complete. The sheer drama of this type of Metal just has to be heard to be believed. And sure, we don’t get to see or hear too much of it on this side of the Channel, but that’s really our loss.

Things come down a gear with Arise. It has a slow, dreamlike beginning, and the combination of guitars and symphonic blends together for a more low-tempo song. The growl still stalks the listener in this song, adding a threat and a contrast to Anette’s singing.

And while Symphonic Metal, if indeed that’s a thing, has been around for quite a while, don’t underestimate what, for UK listeners at least, is a niche sound. But even here, it’s still powerful, still relevant, and utterly enjoyable. “Arise,” sings Anette. “No time to hide in shame, will we all be judged the same?”

It’s a message we’ve heard many times within our blessed world of Metal, but Anette delivers it in her own unique way.

Then, as the title suggests, Take A Stand just doesn’t take any prisoners. And again, it treads familiar ground for Heavy Metal subject matter. But that’s okay. It’s a popular lyrical theme for a reason, and the reason is that we love to hear it.

“Together we all stand,” Anette Olzon announces, and oh yes, we absolutely do.

You can completely imagine this one making its way to the live playlist. No one does motivational music better than Heavy Metal. This is a phenomenal example of that very thing, and that’s exactly why we love it.

Anette Olzon - Rapture album cover
Anette Olzon – Rapture. Believe me, it’s well worth checking out.

Cast Evil Out is a bit of a curve ball because, despite the title, it has a light, almost delicate sound and feel to it. There’s no mistaking the ominous warning lyrics, telling us that we’ve had our chances, we’ve blown our chances, it’s time to change, and we’d better do it soon.

Again, you could just enjoy the song for what it is, or you could look for real-world meanings. Quite how deeply you want to think about this probably depends on how much you’ve had to drink tonight. My advice is one beer only, let the world sort itself out and be grateful that you’re listening to some great music.

This far into the album, Anette Olzon doesn’t seem to be one for too many iddly-widdly guitar solos, but for fans of the same, there’s a bit of that in this song, and very well done it is, too.

You can’t help but reflect on the world with Greedy World, and the global reality pushes head first into our musical retreat. No matter how symphonic, how intricate the musicianship or the lyrical power, this is real world stuff. There’s plenty of wide-ranging guitar work in this song as well, not quite shredding territory, but no worse for that, either.

There’s a slower start with Hear My Song, a piano intro, and plainer singing. This is a song of hope, offering the listener a guiding hand, a helping hand, telling us that we are not alone if only we can heed the words. In this song, the guitar solo switches in perhaps just a little bit too suddenly, jarring the listener, which is a shame. Up until this point, the whole album had been crafted much more thoughtfully. Still, it’s just one moment of distraction and doesn’t take away from the overall effect.

We’re back to more familiar territory with Head Up High. Defiance, unity, resilience. This is Anette’s take on the Metal anthem, and it’s fuel for the hearts of pretty much every Metal fan out there.

This type of song, this type of message, has been played out many times, but it’s always a revelation when it’s delivered with an original slant. “No matter what the end, we swear we won’t ever bend.” Yup, we’ve heard it before. But that doesn’t matter because it’s the kind of message that defines us, even if it is the kind of thing that’ll get us into trouble with the boss on Monday morning.

The album draws to a close with We Search For Peace, a real contrast to the rebellion of the song before it. This song offers a compromise of sorts, but it’s certainly delivered in a way that brooks no argument. “We search for peace,” but you’d better not argue with that.

With this album, Anette has shown us all just what a great singer she is, and Rapture has been a real pleasure to listen to. It’s got eleven songs that positively ooze quality and entertainment value.

I’m not so sure that it breaks any new ground for Anette Olzon’s style, but it doesn’t have to. Just like every other artist out there, this is simply what she does, and she does it very well.

Anette Olzon – Rapture can be pre-ordered from orcd.co/aorapture.

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