Two years after the first collaboration between Russell Allen of Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob, and Anette Olzon, singer of the escapist Nightwish era, and angelic performer in The Dark Element, the Allen/Olzon project this time focuses on the nocturnal atmospheres of dream and reality. This sumptuous, perhaps too much, symphonic scaffolding is strengthened by the presence of multi-instrumentalist Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear, Free Fall, The Ferryman). Magnus Karlsson, the true mastermind behind the opus. Are we talking about an innovative experiment?
The album tries to immediately capture the attention starting with the title track “Army of Dreamers” which rides the vibes of the most baroque symphonic metal. It recalls, in some ways, the equally choreographic, but not very distinctive, “Neverworld’s End” by Xandria. A well-performed title track, but one that easily tends to get lost in the dances of the symphonic genre.
A real twist follows. “So quiet here” is a melodic song, with a strong American taste, in which paradoxically the lyrics win over the musical structure. From “Out of Nowhere” to “Look At Me” we proceed on an average score, always very enjoyable, but easy to forget. The balance between the two voices is beyond doubt, as are the refinements of the guitar riffs. The problem with “Army of Dreamers” seems to be this: it runs along a too simple road, and the work ends up stopping on more or less mediocre and easily forgettable moments.
It’s clearly not possible to talk about symphonic metal without meeting Nightwish, who appears here as an overly cumbersome quotation. There is the whole keyboard ocean of Tuomas Holopainen in the orchestral moments of “A Million Skies” and “Until It’s Over”; but “Army of Dreamers” also competes with Nightwish on the poetic side, which could be notable, was it not for the fact that after that milestone of “Imaginaerum” it is very problematic to say something new and more elegant about the dream world, and man’s difficult relationship with reality.
Closes the album “Never Too Late” – perhaps the most cinema-oriented interval. A funereal ride, which embodies the muscular effort of sleepwalkers like we are in this world. A really interesting point, and a pressing duel, rather than a duet, between Anette and Russell, who fight over a biting score.
In conclusion, “Army of Dreamers” is a very well-performed album, but it makes technical expertise its only strong point, leaving aside originality and impact. Anette’s performance has no weaknesses, as does the vocal consistency of her male counterpart. The solo moments of Magnus Karlsson are noteworthy, and he confirms himself as an excellent multifaceted artist. It’s like being in front of a beautiful sunset, hidden by skyscrapers. The album is up to the job, but without daring too much. In short, a barely glimpsed dream, that surrenders to submerge the listener.