I know the general consensus in 2024 amongst people who concern themselves with such things is that, in the digital age, the concept of ‘the album’ as a linear method of listening to records is essentially dead; People just don’t listen to albums from start to finish, especially when streaming platforms helpfully shuffle your playlists for you without asking. And so, at sixteen tracks in length, Expedition One, the latest (very) full length from Swedish trance metallers Metalite should hold no fears, right? Just cherry pick what you like and bin the rest!
Some may agree with that course of action, but here at Sentinel Daily we take our role as arbiters of taste seriously, and consequently I’ve been sitting through the whole thing so you don’t have to; And, after considerable deliberation I’ve come to the conclusion that either (a) a bit of sensible pruning might have been done to help the flow of the record at the very least or, (b) maybe the band should have split the album in two and released them, say six months apart, making 2024 a real treat for fans of the band.
Now I’ve got all that off my chest, what of the actual music? Well, despite the band being futuristic in outlook – Expedition One is a sci-fi concept album, building on the band’s last album, A Virtual World, to some extent – there’s not a lot of progression to be found here. The band settle into their groove early on with title track Expedition One and don’t really deviate from that point. The band’s leading light, guitarist Edwin Premberg, knows where the sweet spot is and doesn’t wander too much from it. Instrumental workout Utopia (probably the most traditionally metallic thing on offer) aside, that means it’s basically wall-to-wall singalong with Erica Ohlsson to varying degrees. At it’s best, on the excellent Take My Hand, New Generation and Legendary, it’s very good indeed. The best track here, In My Dreams, is a a semi balladic stormer that plays to Ohlsson’s strength beautifully to result in a song you could easily see gracing this year’s Eurovision song contest. And I mean that as a compliment, honestly! But four real belters is not much of a haul over the course of a sixteen track album, even if there are no real stinkers to be found elsewhere…
At the end of the day, Metalite have already established a solid brideghead in the metal market, and all of those fans love the band and will lap up trademark romps like Hurricane and Cyberdome whatever I say. Are those tracks strong enough to expand the band’s footprint? Possibly not, but at this stage in the game this is still an album that’s probably strong enough to keep the band’s momentum building moving forward.
Expedition One releases on January 19th.