Swedish AOR exponents Symphony of Sweden are back with a new album, Haunted, and ready to break out of the bridgehead they established with their superb 2022 offering Saints of Yesterday.

By comparison to that last album, the one word that springs to mind first up is, simply, MORE; The heavy parts are heavier, the poppy parts poppier, the symphonic flourishes more floridly orchestral. The kitchen sink has really been thrown at this production!

Like their compatriot antecedents Roxette, Symphony of Sweden subscribe very much to the philosophy ‘don’t bore us, get to the chorus’. Even on the symphonic power metal banger Even If Solo, they arrive at the singalong refrain a mere thirty two seconds in, and it’s that air of infectious urgency that permeates much of the album. Standout cut Bad Thoughts contains earwork code within it’s DNA of frankly gargantuan proportions – you’ll find it incredibly difficult to dislodge even after a couple of listens.

Once again there’s some pretty heavy balladic action, too; Lay Them Down is an absolute stormer, with vocalist Linus Wester giving an absolutely spine-tingling performance over Pontus Hagberg‘s uber-dramatic instrumental backdrop. It’s genuinely tearjerking stuff, and I defy you not to be swaying in time, bellowing along by songs end.

Henrik Bodin-Sköld is pretty much flawless in the guitar department; his work on Show Me Love and the latter-day Europe-style pomp of Down and Counting are particularly stirring, but throughout he acts as the perfect foil to the two mainmen; similarly Niklas Bengtsson‘s agile drumming scores highly, building the frames over which Hagberg can hang his sonic tapestries.

Put simply, as modern AOR goes, Symphony of Sweden have hit the bullseye again. All the old Gods are referenced, for sure – Wester’s resemblence to Mike Tramp, vocally, gives a timeless classicism to everything here, but especially on the fabulously over-the-top Just Let It Bleed – but the band attack the job at hand always with one eye on modernity, infusing the material with a freshness that’s often missing from material like this. If, like me, you’re a big fan of having your cake and eating it, then this might just be the album for you!

Haunted releases on February 7th.