Metalite – Expedition One Review

"Metalite's 'Expedition One': A Melodic Metal Journey with Hits and Misses" ...

Released By: AFM Records

Release Date: January 19th, 2024

Genre: Modern Melodic Metal

Links: https://www.facebook.com/metalitemetal

 

Line Up:

Erica Ohlsson – Vocals

Edwin Premberg – Guitars

Robert Örnesved – Guitars

Robert Majd – Bass

Lea Larsson – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Expedition One

2. Aurora

3. CtrlAltDel

4. Cyberdome

5. Blazing Skies

6. Outer Worlds

7. New Generation

8. In My Dreams

9. Disciples of the Stars

10. Free

11. Legendary

12. Paradise

13. Sanctum of Light

14. Utopia

15. Take My Hand (Bonus Track)

16. Hurricane (Bonus Track)

 

 

For the past few years, ever since they released their sophomore album Biomehanicals in 2019, I was wondering what Swedish modern melodic metal band Metalite could do to take their sound to the next level, as that album was already a big improvement over their debut, and showed the band taking everything that worked before and improving on it in every way. With such a simple, catchy and accessible sound, I wasn’t sure if the band would ever attempt anything more epic or ambitious, and sure enough, their third album A Virtual World ended up being just as fun and simple as their previous albums, feeling like more of the same, instead of the leap forward its predecessor was. However, with their upcoming fourth album, Expedition One, the band actually has attempted something a bit bigger, maintaining their brand of ultra melodic, pop infused melodic metal, while utilizing it within the framework of a 16 track, 68 minute concept album. The result, while not quite recapturing the magic of Biomehanicals, is still highly entertaining in its own right, and shows that the band is indeed capable and willing to try something a bit bigger than usual.

As usual, not much has changed within the band, as their lineup has remained the same ever since 2019, and their brand of ultra catchy and melodic, hook filled, keyboard driven melodic metal is still largely the same as ever, with a big focus on catchy choruses, and a strong amount of pop influence, as usual. There are some bursts of heaviness to be found throughout the album, including moments where the band includes some chugging that comes close to djent territory, as well as some excellent, melodic guitar solos that fall more into a classic power metal sound, and overall I’d say the guitarwork is slightly more prominent than on any of the band’s previous albums. Unsurprisingly, though, bouncy, trance infused keyboards and strong, pop infused vocals are still very much the main focus of the album, with Erica Ohlsson’s voice remaining as smooth, yet powerful as ever. The overall sound and production quality is great as always, as everything sounds excellent, and while the keys and vocals remain the highest in the mix, as always, guitars and drums are also very clear, with guitars in particular having a rather strong presence on some of the faster, heavier tracks.

Songwriting is very good, as always, though as usual there’s a few particularly strong tracks, while the rest is very good, but kind of blends together a bit. That effect is more noticeable than ever on this album, not because the songwriting is necessarily less consistent, but because there’s so many tracks, all falling within a range of 3-5 minutes, so it’s inevitable that a lot of those will end up not standing out as much. With that being said, there is a good amount of variety to be found, with some speedy, power metal influenced tracks, tons of mid-paced, slightly upbeat trance infused tracks, a ballad, a power ballad of sorts, and an instrumental, so every fan of the band is sure to find something to enjoy here.

Lyrics have never been the band’s strong suit, so I was interested in seeing how well they’d do with a concept album. The album is centered around a group of humans leaving earth and heading into space in search of a new home, which is not exactly uncommon territory for a Sci-Fi story, and there are no real surprises to be found here. Song by song lyrics are enjoyable, if unremarkable, while the overall concept largely stays in the background, with very little narration and not much in the way of a cohesive narrative to demand the listener’s attention or distract from the catchy songwriting. Overall, I’d say the concept is handled decently, but it’s nothing special, and definitely not the main draw of the album, but it’s nothing anyone should dread or be concerned about detracting from their enjoyment of the music, either.

Photo Credit: Mats Vassfjord

Moving on to the actual songs, the album kicks off in fine form with the title track, the kind of high energy, up tempo opener fans would expect. There’s a nice balance between light, trance infused keys and heavy guitar work, with the verses being slightly upbeat, but rather subdued, while the chorus is uptempo, energetic, melodic and very catchy, with excellent vocals as expected. The guitar solo in the second half is very melodic and has a strong power metal vibe to it. Overall, it’s an excellent opening track, though not one of personal favorites on the album. Next is one of many pre-release singles, “Aurora”, and it is one of my favorites. It opens up with some very bouncy, futuristic sounding keys, then briefly slows down with some crunchy guitar work, before the pace picks up slightly during the opening verse. The chorus is upbeat, very catchy and has some fantastic vocal melodies and keys, but I especially love the aggressive, somewhat thrashy guitar riff right at the end, which adds an extra dose of intensity.

The momentum continues with “CtrlAltDel”, which starts off at a mid pace, sounding a lot like an Amaranthe track, with a very pop infused sound. This carries on throughout the opening verse, but the chorus is more upbeat, with energetic keys, light guitars, and more excellent vocals from Ohlsson. The instrumental section is very good, starting off surprisingly heavy, with some thick guitar work, before going back to more of a melodic power metal sound, as usual. Next is “Cyberdome”, which starts off with some more trance sounding keys,before speeding up and turning into one of the faster paced, more power metal influenced tracks on the album.The verses are slow paced and more subdued, but the chorus goes full speed ahead, and while the vocal melodies aren’t the strongest, the instrumental work is excellent. Once again, the instrumental section has heavy parts mixed with more melodic parts and it’s another highlight. This string of high energy tracks ends in top form with another single, “Blazing Skies”, another track which features a nice blend of melodic,bouncy keys, heavy guitar work and fast drums, moving at an upbeat tempo throughout, with one of the catchiest and most entertaining choruses on the album. The track overall has a strong power metal influence, with the solo section and final run through the chorus especially showcasing that side of the band wonderfully, and overall, it’s another one of my favorites on the album.

Moving towards the middle of the album, things slow down for a bit, but the quality doesn’t drop off much, if at all. Starting off this section is “The Outer Worlds”, more of a mid-paced track, with nice, atmospheric keys accompanied by melodic and rather subdued guitars. The verses have a slight pulse to them, while the chorus is slowed down, very melodic and atmospheric, with some strong vocal melodies, though it’s not particularly catchy by Metalite standards. It is very good, though, as is the melodic guitar solo towards the end of the track. Next is another single, “The New Generation”, a slower track, having somewhat of a power ballad vibe to it. Following a nice intro, led by bouncy keys, listeners are treated to some chunky, slightly djent infused guitar work, which carries on throughout a slow but enjoyable opening verse, before eventually giving way to one of the lightest, most melodic and most well sung choruses on the album, where Ohlsson really gets to shine, especially on the fantastic final run through, right at the end of the track. It’s a very light, slow and melodic track on the whole, with nice keys, but the heavy guitar work which shows up in bursts, as well as the vocals, are the clear highlights of the track.

The one full on ballad on the album is “In My Dreams’ ‘, and it’s another personal favorite. Unsurprisingly, Ohlsson steals the show on this track, starting off softly, with light keyboard backing during the opening verse and first run through the very beautiful chorus, before some melodic, yet subtly heavy guitars kick in for the second verse. From there her vocals become progressively more emotional, intense and powerful as the song continues on, really going all out during a stunning final run through the chorus, which stands as the highlight of the track, along with the excellent and very melodic guitar solo towards the end.The energy picks up again with “Disciples of the Stars”, yet another single.There’s not much to say about it,except that it’s another speedy, power metal influenced track with a mix of trance infused keys, melodic guitar work, occasional heavy riffs, strong vocals and another great chorus.

Next is “Free”, a mid-paced, yet rather upbeat and high energy track with slow, light and melodic verses, paired with a more upbeat,very fun and catchy chorus,with some strong vocal hooks and a very pop feel to it, especially the keys and vocals. The solo section unsurprisingly pairs some more chunky, djent infused guitars, with some of the most melodic guitar work on the album, and it’s easily the highlight of the track. The opening of “Legendary” has a strong videogame feel to it, with how the keys sound, which is pretty cool, and then the track alternates between slow, bouncy, pop infused verses with a strong resemblance to Amaranthe, and an upbeat chorus with excellent vocals, heavy guitars, and a slight power metal feel. The solo section is excellent, once again alternating between very heavy and very melodic passages.

One track that sets a bad first impression is “Paradise”, with a “Put your hands up!” intro which sounds like it belongs on a really bad pop or rap song or something, and the keys which follow it aren’t much better, and are the one instance where I find the keys a bit annoying on the entire album. The rest of the track is solid, with energetic, upbeat verses, slightly heavy riffs, a slow but very melodic and catchy chorus, and another excellent solo section. That intro does lose me about half of the time, though, which is a real shame. The pace slows down, as the end approaches. “Sanctum of Light” is, unsurprisingly, a very light and melodic keyboard driven track, moving at a fairly slow pace for most of its duration and having fairly minimal guitars, instead relying heavily on the melodies and Olhsson’s voice, which is absolutely fantastic, especially on the chorus, where she once again steals the show. The guitar solo towards the end is very beautiful, and the sped up final run through of the chorus is fantastic. Next is “Utopia”, a sort of outro track, with a bit of narration and some very light instrumental work throughout. It’s a nice enough track, but nothing special, and it feels a bit odd, serving as an outro, even though there’s two tracks after it, which I’m not actually sure if they’re part of the concept or if they’re considered bonus tracks.

Regardless, the album closes out with two more singles, and they both happen to be my favorite and by far my most played tracks on the whole album. First up is “Take My Hand”, one of the lightest, melodic and most pop influenced tracks the band has ever written, with some very soft, melodic trance keys balanced out by some subtly heavy guitar work throughout the verses, and then the chorus is insanely melodic and catchy, barely maintaining a metal sound, but the performances and vocal melodies are so irresistible, it ends up being an instant favorite, and no matter how many times I play it, I can never get enough of it. The last run through the chorus is simply outstanding, and probably my favorite part of the entire album. Last, but not least, “Hurricane”, starts off with some very bouncy electronic keys, before quickly picking up the pace and turning into yet another upbeat, high energy track, with a great balance between trance and power metal.The chorus is fast, melodic and very catchy, and the guitar work is amazing throughout, especially during the solo section and final run through the chorus, which is once again a major highlight, thanks to the guitar work and amazing vocals.

Since their debut, Metalite have been a very reliable band when it comes to producing high quality modern melodic metal, with a nice mix of trance and power metal elements. While they’ve yet to ascend to the heights of some of my favorites, such as Temperance or Dynazty, they’ve been consistently great from album to album, never quite matching their career highlight Biomechanicals just yet, but still keeping me thoroughly entertained every time out. While Expedition One won’t fully blow anyone away with its concept or overall structure, it keeps the band’s winning streak going strong, and contains some of their best tracks to date. It’s an album that’s sure to please existing fans, while anyone else looking for some great melodic metal with tons of keys and fantastic vocals, would be highly recommended to give this album a shot, as long as they aren’t scared off by the longer than average run time for this sort of album. As a fan of the band from the start, I know I can always count on them to deliver, and this album is certainly no exception!

 

Ratings: 8/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

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