Former Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon has ploughed a somewhat forlorn furrow since her estrangement from the storied Finnish proggists; Not that she’s been inactive – she’s formed a relatively busy cottage industry under the aegis of (largely) Frontiers Music since the split, with new album Rapture being, by this reviewer’s reckoning, the eighth full-length she’s been involved in as a featured vocalist.

I say forlorn because, for the most part – notable flashes of excellence like My Sweet Mystery from her first album as part of The Dark Element aside – she seems doomed to be singing music that allows her label to trade on her illustrious past without ever really offering much hope of any artistic departure or fulfillment. Olzon has a stunning, sometimes beautiful voice, and to see it harnessed to workaday Euro pomp like the chugging Greedy World here, is nothing short of heartbreaking, really.

This is strange, because the songwriter on Rapture, Primal Fear‘s Magnus Karlsson, is no slouch when it comes to penning a rousing, all guns blazing power metal anthem; He’s done it often enough over the past couple of decades, after all, but much of the material on offer on Rapture is anything but rapturous. Don’t get me wrong – the performances, right down to bassist Johan Husgafvel ‘s often-spurious growling, are top notch, with Karlsson offering some nice soloing; it’s just that there’s too much perspiration here and not enough inspiration to make this a genuinely exciting proposition.

The title track, Take A Stand and the excellent ballad Hear My Song stand exempt from this criticism, all being good vehicles for Olzon’s spinetingling voice (especially the latter, which also features a dazzling solo from Karlsson), but I honestly think three great tracks out of eleven is a bit of a disappointment, no matter how good individual performances are throughout.

Rapture releases on May 10th.