Published on March 22nd, 2020 | by Justin G.
Allen-Olzon: Worlds Apart (Frontiers, 2020)Collaboration projects from the Frontiers label can be hit-and-miss, but going all the way back to the first Allen-Lande release in 2005, the projects with guitarist/songwriter/producer Magnus Karlsson at the helm have been pure gold. That goes double for the projects like Allen-Lande and Kiske-Somerville where Karlsson can write songs that play to both singers’ strengths. This time around, Karlsson is reuinited with Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen and is working for the first time with former Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon. The project is called Allen-Olzon, and their debut is titled Worlds Apart. Worlds Apart is a textbook example of Karlsson’s approach to these kinds of collaborations, and that’s a good thing. His strength has always been that highly melodic, middle of the road heavy metal style. He serves up the easy to digest, easy to remember melodies (and some sweet solos) and then steps back and lets the vocalists shine. And shine they do. As effective as Allen is belting out angry prog metal with Symphony X, he’s just so damned good at this modern day Dokken-sounding stuff. And Olzon, who never quite fit Nightwish’s symphonic sound, also seems right at home here (much like she does in her other Frontiers project The Dark Element). Just like the Allen-Lande albums, Worlds Apart features songs sung by Allen, songs sung by Olzon and songs where they both sing. Each category is great, with the standouts being “Lost Soul” (Allen), “Cold Inside” (Olzon) and “My Enemy” and the title track (both). Karlsson, Allen and Olzon get just about everything right here. The songs are classic Karlsson, with plenty of punch and incredible melodies, and each vocalist gives a standout performance. Worlds Apart captures the best elements of Allen-Lande and Kiske-Somerville, and is already a contender for best melodic heavy metal album of 2020. In a time when a lot of these projects can seem disposable, it’s great to see one rise to the level of “essential.” Allen-Olzon is highly recommended for fans of Magnus Karlsson’s other projects as well as fans of melodic metal like Pretty Maids, The Dark Element, Jorn and Delain.
Summary: Another killer Karlsson collaboration