Gothenburg’s Art Nation are back with their fourth full-length effort, Inception. And, whilst they’ve always shown a lot of promise, I have to say that they’ve taken something of a great leap forward with this new offering…

Theirs is a familiar sound, thanks to the burgeoning success of names like fellow Swedes Dynazty and H.E.A.T. but whilst there are undoubted similarities in the sound of AN to those two fine bands they still carry enough of their own identity to suggest further improvment is possible going to forward.

Personal performances are key to the overall vibe; Alexander Strandell has rarely sounded so confident behind the mic, delivering corking vocals on tracks like 1001, whilst returning guitarist Christoffer Borg adds real pizzazz with some classy leads in the vein of fellow Swedes John Norum and Kee Marcello.

If we’re being brutally honest, one or two of the songs – especially the anodyne Fight Fire With Fire – still err on the side of a slight generic facelessness, but those blips disappear from the memory quickly when faced with repeated listens to gloriously pompous nuggets like Echo (a real lighters-in-the-air-banger) or the jaunty pop metal of Break Up, which really takes the listener back to hard rock’s glory days of the late eighties with it’s irresistible chorus and finger-twitching solos. Not to mention the utterly triumphant key change that’ll send shivers down the spine, guaranteed…

Best track Light The Fire is an absolute stormer, and sees the band stretching their abilities to the fullest on a strutting piece of heavy rock that’ll have you out of your seat and punching the air with delight on first hearing.

All in all, then, this is a pretty satisfying return from a band that could easily have been accused of treading water for a fair while now. Inception is packed with self-assured, melodically robust and confident hard rock and heavy metal delivered with panache and a real joi de vivre. Highly recommended!

Inception releases on June 9th.