Old habits die hard. Indeed they do. Like, for instance, Brit rockers FM‘s habit of penning impossible-to-resist, bluesy, melodic hard rock tunes, the grandeur of which most bands ploughing the same musical furrow can only dream of.

Seriously, any band thirty, in fact nearly forty years deep into their careers and able to reel off an opening triumvirate of tracks as spine-tinglingly opulent as FM do here with Out of the Blue, Don’t Need Another Heartache and No Easy Way Out, is doing pretty well. But not many of those bands – if indeed there are any – would then be able to go one better with track number four. But, you guessed it… that’s just what Steve Overland and company do here with the spectacular seventies strut of Lost.

We make no secret here at Sentinel Daily of being massive fans of FM, but even we have had our faith tested by the occasionally workmanlike nature of some of the band’s twenty first century output. So it’s been a real pleasure to hear the way the band have upped their game, so late in the day, with their last album, 2022’s Thirteen and now Old Habits, which for this writer is possibly, on a song-for-song basis, the best thing this band has recorded since the turn of the century. Seriously, not a second is wasted here as the band mine a reach seam of inspiration over the course of nearly fifty glorious minutes of intelligent, supremely-crafted hard rock magnificence.

Overland is in truly sparkling form on stand out cuts like the stunning Black Water, which is the sort of song Jimi Jamison and Survivor made their own back in the day and here finds our heroes in brooding, heavy mood. But it’s not just Overland – music this good comes from a band working as a team – and everybody involved should take a bow for their work here. Guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick continues to impress with some truly wonderful lead work, whilst Jem Davis has never sounded so vital to the cause as he does here. His shimmering keys on Don’t Need Another Heartache are truly memorable, taking a line straight back to the glory days of names like Foreigner and New England with his slick, exciting work. And is there a better, more well oiled machine currently doing the rounds than ultimate pros Pete Jupp and Merv Goldsworthy in the engine room? Not by my reckoning, that’s for sure.

If all this wasn’t enough, the band even head back to the heady days of Indiscreet and Tough It Out on the goosebump-inducing Leap of Faith, a song which will have long term fans trembling with joy on first contact. Everything about this release – even the Jackson Browne tribute, California, which Overland sings with the sort of verve he used to employ conjuring up images of sun, sea and sand for Sunkist – oozes class. And in a world where class is becoming an ever-more-scarce commodity, FM become even more important. Treasure them – because albums as good as this don’t come along very often, and the acts that create them are very special indeed.

Old Habits Die Hard releases on May 3rd