Sweden’s Rexoria re-enter the fray in 2023 with their third full-length effort, Imperial Dawn. And very nice it is too.

Unfortunately for Frida Ohlin and her band band of brothers, ‘nice’ doesn’t really cut it in today’s ultra-competitive pop metal world, and there’s simply too much material on Imperial Dawn that simply goes in one ear and out the other to make this a true contender in the band’s chosen class.

There’s nothing here that’s actively offensive, you understand – indeed closing track Enchantedisland is excellent and allows the band to exit on a high – but tracks like Paradigm offer nothing new to the game, happy instead to mimick already established names (in this case Metalite), right down to the uplifting Eurovision-style key change towards songs’ end.

Did someone mention Metalite? That band’s leading light, Edwin Premberg, lends his key tinkling talents to the album, and Within Temptation‘s Stefan Helleblad mixed it, whilst renowned mastering expert Thomas ‘Plec’ Johansson added his not insubstantial talents in that department, so this is a band that can obviously call on the great and the good of Euro metal to lend a hand; which makes the presentation of rather anodyne material like Devious Desire all the more frustrating to the listener. Again it’s not horrible – you’d rather hear this on the radio than, say, Post Malone – but time and again whilst listening to Imperial Dawn you find yourself wishing that the band would just occasionally break the shackles of convention and go for broke.

The band are all obviously good players and writers – as the truly exciting Rage And Madness evinces as everything clicks and the band really go for the throat – and I for one would love to see them underline that fact by delivering some truly challenging heavy metal next time around.

Imperial Dawn releases on February 3rd.