Finnish melodic rock band ONE DESIRE released their self-titled debut in 2017, to massive acclaim from fans and critics alike. Hit single “Hurt” gathered over 2 million views on Youtube and 3 million streams on Spotify, pushing the band to the forefront of the melodic rock scene. On 22 May 2020, the band will finally release their sophomore album, “Midnight Empire,” via Frontiers Records.
Being more mature, adventurous, and filled with hooks and earworms to last for days, this is a good depiction of “feel-good music”; it’s impossible not to feel good while (and after) listening to some of the songs on “Midnight Empire.” The album is off to a great start with melodic hard rocker “Shadowman,” which features an eerie atmosphere that always makes me think of IRON MAIDEN’s “Fear of the Dark” (especially the opening sequence), but apart from that, the chorus is very catchy, Jimmy Westerlund’s guitar melodies are groovy and uplifting, and André Linman’s vocals are rich and melodic. First single and AOR anthem “After You’re Gone” adds more nuances to the album, with some 80s inspired melodies that are sure to make you dance and, in a live setting, would really get the crowd engaged. The lyrical content, upbeat chorus, and vocal delivery bring to mind Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” but with more of a metal edge. “Down and Dirty” and “Godsent Extasy” follow suit and keep the momentum going with more up-tempo melodies, delivering infectious choruses that will have the listeners singing along in no time, while the guitar solo in “Down and Dirty” adds a heavier touch to the song.
Opening on strings and vocals, “Through the Fire” is the type of ballad that tugs at the heartstrings. It builds up in intensity with massive drums that accentuate key parts of the song, while the piano adds a sense of drama to the music and the guitar solo is just the icing on the cake. The trio “Heroes,” “Rio,” and “Battlefield of Love” are more melodic songs with emotional lyrics and it is already clear that the second part of the album traded the energy and dynamism of the opening tracks for anthemic power ballads. Wise choice? Only time can tell. With “Killer Queen,” the band tries to recreate some momentum, as the up-tempo melodies take over, but closing track “Only When I Breathe” brings the mood down again.
Even though the vocal harmonies, soaring choruses, lush orchestrations, strong riffs, and groovy rhythmic section are solid, a bit more diversity and variety (or maybe a different track order) would have elevated “Midnight Empire” from a great album to an excellent album. Nonetheless, there are plenty of moments that will make listeners sing along or get up and dance, but then again some songs might make them feel a bit nostalgic and wistful.
Written by Andrea Crow
- After You’re Gone
- Down and Dirty
- Godsent Extasy
- Through The Fire
- Battlefield Of Love
- Killer Queen
- Only When I Breathe
André Linman – lead vocals
Jimmy Westerlund – guitars
Jonas Kuhlberg – bass guitar
Ossi Sivula –
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