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.
Swedish rockers Rian have been slowly carving out their place on the melodic rock scene since 2017. This second full length album finds them reaching a musical maturity on an enjoyable set of tunes that blend melodic hard rock and metal riffs seamlessly with huge AOR choruses, and although their old school sound is often predictable, the eleven songs on 2023’s ‘Wings’ are of a very high standard for the style.
When Stardust released their debut album in 2020, it came as a pleasant surprise. ‘Highway To Heartbreak’ arrived amongst a glut of average melodic rock discs, and by comparison, Stardust sounded far more enthused. Their overall sound had a little more punch than most, and in the song writing department, their gifts for penning big, old school choruses in the AOR tradition were huge. It was the kind of album that suggested a bright future, even for a band trading in sounds from yesteryear.
The debut album from Circus of Rock gave hard rock fans plenty to enjoy. The side project from King Company’s Mika Rantanen saw the Finnish musician collaborating with a whole host of familiar faces, including Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn, Axel Rudi Pell, Hardline vocalist Johnny Gioeli, and ex-Nightwish man Marco Hietala. This second outing for the Circus (released in May 2023) isn’t quite as impressive in terms of roll call, but any album that features vocal contributions from Uriah Heep’s Bernie Shaw and the legendary Jeff Scott Soto is definitely worth hearing.