With the new ban on public events, Musicalypse can do naught but listen to new upcoming albums, or so it seemed in March/April. ONE DESIRE was formed in 2012 and features members and producers from bands like STURM UND DRANG, CAIN’S OFFERING, and NEGATIVE, with their self-titled debut released in 2017 a year or so after the full line-up was complete. Now 3 years later, we have their sophomore album, “Midnight Empire,” set for release on May 22nd, 2020, though who can say what will come of their planned European tour with the NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA… only time will tell.
I admit that I have no experience with this band, though I may have seen them briefly at a festival or two. The bands that relate to ONE DESIRE have always been a bit mainstream but interesting to follow, making this album worth checking out.
“Midnight Empire” starts with a spoken word intro as part of one of the longest songs and opener, “Shadowman,” which has potential to be a really fun and energetic live song. This is followed by what fans may recognize as the first single, “After You’re Gone,” with it’s strong clean vocals by André Linman.
The album maintains a largely mid-tempo pace with songs like “Down and Dirty” and “Battlefield of Love,” though “Godsent Extasy” was very catchy and fun and will make for an awesome live and/or party song. “Through the Fire” is the de facto album ballad and admittedly didn’t leave much of an impression beyond being the de facto ballad, as well as the longest song on the album. It was very nice but needs a bit less plastic-y production or the vocalist needs to get deeply personal with the lyrics for this to work better.
On that note, however, whatever was lacking in the ballad was very much present in “Heroes,” which is forceful, positive, and really uplifting, fitting easily into any playlist of empowerment anthems. This was another album highlight, personally. “Rio” has a creative intro before a slower piano melody comes in and is joined by the electric guitar. This feel’s like the band’s effort at “Africa” by TOTO, or perhaps “Barcelona” by NFO, leading the listener to wonder if anyone in the band has been to Rio de Janeiro and what experiences they might have had. However, the melody feels a bit too familiar and brings to mind a few pre-existing songs.
“Battlefield of Love” steps into pure ’80s territory with its synth sound but could use a little more style or flare in the drums since the beat is pretty basic. The solos, too, are a bit on the slow side and could use a bit more life. “K!ller Queen” could be a QUEEN tribute in name but is really nothing like QUEEN in sound, with more of a ’90s synth rock sound, very light and poppy.
The album ends with another ballad, a traditional finale-style song, “Only When I Breathe.” If you like this type of song, huzzah, but to my ear it came off as a bit surface-level emotionally, as is the case with many songs like this. It was very nice and the melody was great, but it wasn’t giving me chills like it was meant to. Perhaps I’m too old but, “Now it only hurts when I breathe,” feels a lot too melodramatic to feel very authentic.
This is a nice album for fans of bands like HIM, Smash into Pieces, Dead by April, Negative, and other such melodic/pop-rock bands, as this is perfectly enjoyable radio music. The production may be a bit too plastic-y for some and genre-wise, I’d match them in the same genre as HIM and maybe BATTLE BAST, so for fans of pop rock, this may be a great album for you for 2020, but fans of exclusively heavy music will likely want to skip this one. My main personal complaint is an overall too-polished sound that makes it hard to really connect with on a personal level; I’d like to see the songs get really personal and bring some more emotion out.
Written by Bear Wiseman
- After You’re Gone
- Down and Dirty
- Godsent Extasy
- Through the Fire
- Battlefield of Love
- K!ller Queen
- Only When I Breathe
André Linman – vocals, guitar
Jimmy Westerlund – guitar
Jonas Kuhlberg – bass
Ossi Sivula – drums
Frontiers Music s.r.l.