On their second studio album, ‘Wonderland’ (released in March 2023), Swedish rockers Seventh Crystal delivered some enjoyable melodic hard rock tunes. In the title track, especially, listeners were treated to some well crafted, slightly old fashioned riffs that advertised the musicians’ talents with a decent amount of punch. On that track, the energies of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal could be heard lurking beneath a big sound calling back to American melodic rock acts of the late 80s in the best possible way. It was when tackling smoother sounds that Seventh Crystal really excelled, though, and ‘Million Times’ shared some great harmony driven AOR, loaded with soaring melodies; the classic sounding balladry at the heart of ‘In The Mirror’ showcased a strong vocal from frontman Kristian Fyhr, and the perky ‘Next Generation’ peppered some finely played melodic rock riffs with a poppier core, showing how the band weren’t afraid of mixing things up just a little.
The name Martin Kronlund will be familiar to many melodic rock fans. Between 2010 and 2015, the Swedish guitarist almost seemed omnipresent. Throughout that time, he was a member of Lover Under Cover, Salute and the reformed White Wolf. He was also a guest on the Ged Rylands all-star project Rage of Angels. In addition, he provided technical/production duties on albums by Departure, Ilium, M.ILL.ION, Saracen and Elevener. For a time it was hard to get away from the bugger.
Throughout 2022, Ronnie Romero continued his very prolific streak of releasing new material. The year brought four new albums: another studio recording with the brilliant Sunstorm, an album with The Ferrymen, a solo disc featuring some well chosen cover tunes and, not least of all, a titanic piece of metal reuniting the hard working singer with his band Lords of Black. With just two albums released in 2023, it was a quiet year by Romero’s usual standards, but you still have to ask: at what point does having a ridiculous work ethic start to look like a man on a musical treadmill at the behest of his record company?
Fashion be damned! Swedish melodic rockers Streetlight champion a very commercial blend of AOR and melodic rock on their 2023 album ‘Ignition’. Capturing a perfect sound that celebrates some of the scene’s greatest bands and influences from those 1987-89 glory days, it’s an album packed with massive choruses, but comes with an even bigger concession to brilliantly played, shiny sounding keyboards. There are few musical surprises, but a whole world of giant hooks will ensure lovers of old school AOR will find a near instant liking of the Streetlight sound.
Kent Hilli is one of the best rock vocalists of his generation. Wherever he appears, you’re pretty much guaranteed some top quality melodic fare. He even managed to make Giant’s ‘Shifting Time’ album entertaining, despite a Dann Huff-less Giant being Giant in name only. Such is his vocal gift that he took on a “dead man’s shoes” role and gave it life, offering something on a par with his own Perfect Plan. This solo album, released in August 2023, continues something of a gold run for the Swedish singer. Presenting eleven melodic rock tracks, the featured material makes the very best of a great voice once more.