“This is melodic rock for the twenty first century”.

Thus declaims the press release accompanying the first album from Sweden’s Seventh Crystal, Wonderland. Did I really need to say they were from Sweden? Anyways, I digress. Whilst this is indubitably twenty first century music, one of the great things about Wonderland is it’s effortless mixing of melodic styles both old and new.

At the heart of this is the vocal performance of band progenitor Kristian Fyhr: Blessed with the sort of soulful pipes most singers would kill for, his shot-through-with-class performances on tracks like Higher Ground and Next Generation draws a line straight back to glorious pop/rock names of the eighties like Go West. That’s meant as a complement, by the way, as I consider that band’s Peter Cox as one of Britain’s greatest pop/rock singers. Fyhr matches him here, however, delivering a fault-free set of performances that’ll surely have the established greats of melodic hard rock in 2023 looking over their shoulders nervously if they happen to catch a whiff of songs of the calibre of Some Day.

Reinforcing the old school feels is keyboarder Johan Älvsång, whose judicious use of piano (as opposed to just the deployment of wall-to-wall synths) give the best material here a timeless, almost Survivoresque feel that’ll have old timers like me grinning gormlessly when they hear it.

Heavier, more dramatic material like closer Rodeo works well too; Fyhr’s got the strength and confidence to go toe-to-toe with the band’s twin axe attack of Emil Dornerus and Gustav Linde, and the resultant, uplifting noise is one of the highlights of a record that is decidedly light-on low points.

Seventh Crystal have entered the melodic rock arena at a time when Europe’s stocks in the genre ride at close to all-time highs; It’s going to be hard for them to dent the public consciousness when there is just so much good opposition already in the field, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion, on the basis of repeated brushes with Wonderland, that they’ve got the tools to get the job done.

Wonderland is out now