ALLEN / OLZON — Worlds Apart (review)

ALLEN / OLZON — Worlds Apart album cover Album · 2020 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
1/5 ·
Worlds Apart (2020) is the debut album by collaborative project Allen/Olzon, named for it's two vocalists, Russell Allen and Anette Olzon. The main instrumentalist of the project is Magnus Karlsson with drummer Anders Köllerfors completing the four piece line-up.

Allen/Olzon is about as manufactured a metal band as you can get. But at this point what do you expect from a Frontiers Records project? If it wasn't enough that they've previously paired Russell Allen with Jørn Lande (a project previously also helmed by Magnus Karlsson before being replaced by Timo Tolkki) but they've also put Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville together, again under Magnus Karlsson's instrumental work and now we have Russell Allen (Symphony X, et al) for a second time, this time with Anette Olzon (ex-Nightwish). The whole concept feels rather stale by this point. But of course, the music should be allowed to speak for itself, regardless of how it came to be created.

Only, it doesn't really say much. Worlds Apart sounds exactly like you'd expect a project of this nature to sound like: commercialised metal designed to show off its singers. It's basically pop dressed as metal. Despite some different influences in there including symphonic and some very minor power metal elements against the primarily melodic heavy metal sound, it's altogether a very bland release that results in a boredom induced coma long before it's managed to get even close to the half way point of its near hour long duration. Sure, it's also totally inoffensive and even listenable if you're feeling jovial enough, but pap is still pap.

To elaborate, there really doesn't seem to be a single thing about this release that could be deemed interesting or exciting. The music is about as basic in its ideas as it could get, merely serving the purpose that there needs to be something there for Allen and Olzon to sing over and is totally generic in its execution, with no risks taken (one has to wonder if that's Karlsson's choice or if he's given creative direction directly from the label). It's an album that's all about its two singers yet the only thing Worlds Apart really proves is that you need more than a good voice, or even two of them, to make a quality album.

That's not to say they do a bad job. They don't. We all know by this point that Russell Allen is one of the greatest male metal vocalists around. He is a vocalist that doesn't have anything to prove to anyone. Anette Olzon has more of a mixed reputation in the metal scene due to her Nightwish stint which saw her replace Tarja Turunen, a very different vocalist to herself. It was one of those situations where the gig of a lifetime turned out to be a hand badly dealt and it was after just two albums that the band sent her the way of Tarja. But there was never any doubt that Olzon was a good singer, just not the singer Nightwish fans wanted. Although actually for my money her second Nightwish album Imaginaerum is actually one of the group's best and most interesting albums so I look back on her tenure more fondly than some might do. Regardless, she's been back on the metal scene with The Dark Element prior to this Allen/Olzon project and although I haven't heard them personally I've seen some good reports. So I don't really think Olzon has anything to prove here any more than Allen does and hardly needs this to get back out there.

It certainly seems to be the case that both singers have much better projects out there (including Allen/Lande for Russell) for people who like their voices to listen to, that the only possible draw to Worlds Apart would be that they are together and I don't find it the most obvious pairing. Allen/Lande at least made a kind of sense. This one just makes the whole process feel too close to what pop music does: putting a male and female artist together and expecting results. But this isn't pop, it's metal and you need much more than all the parts checked off a list to make an album work.

All of these projects – Allen/Olzon, Allen/Lande, Kiske/Somerville - do make one wonder though why Frontiers Records doesn't make these projects around much more unknown vocalists. Vocalists who could actually really benefit from such a showcase album. Oh right, we know the answer to that. Money. Worlds Apart is just another Frontiers Records release built around money making names and it won't matter that it's also a release that lacks any substance or originality – it will sell copies based on the names alone. In that, it will no doubt be a success. But this reviewer expects more than that from an album to consider even giving it a middling score. Instead, as painful as it is to say for something that Russell Allen put his name to, it's likely to remain one of the lowest ranked albums I'll hear in 2020.
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Nightfly wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Russell Allen is probably my favourite metal singer so disappointing to see him involved in such blandness.
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
There's nothing like a fucking good rant and tearing something to shreds occasionally!
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yep, prevent the spread of the disease. Some musical trends should be stopped immediately before other artists are contaminated with the same awful ideas.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I've always preferred writing about releases I like but occasionally something (like this) rubs me up the wrong that I feel compelled to tear it a new one, so to speak. It's the kind of release that if you want to play it technical isn't bad per se yet manages to represent things I dislike in modern metal. I wouldn't want this to be a trend that takes off.
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Damn these C-virus times have really made you a grumpy old man...welcome to the Club Adam ;-)...We welcome you with open arms. On a more serious note, I´m sure you´re right in your opinion about this release. I can imagine how the albums sounds, even without having listened to a single note. I´ll pass hard on this one...


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