In a world full of uncertainty, one thing is certain – David Reece will improve the sound of your band time after time.

The journeyman American vocalist, returning here with German power metallers Wicked Sensation for the first time in over half a decade, puts in an all-encompassing MVP performance on Outbreak that will have fans of gritty, melodic hard rock singing out of their seats and punching the air with delight on tracks like Light In The Dark and Satisfy Temptation; his work on the quite superb Child of Sorrow is, in a word, consummate, and he graces every song, if not quite like a colossus, then certainly as one of the best vocalists hard rock has to offer in 2022. If his vocal on Face Reality doesn’t get the hairs on the back of your neck rioting in approbation, I suggest you seek medical assistance immediately…

Still, they say you can’t polish a turd, and it has to be said that the material Reece has been given to sing on this album is quite brilliant. Big choruses meet head on with beefy riffs and memorable songwriting on almost every track; Sang Vong and Michael Klein are a formidable guitar duo, backed by some superb keys from Bernd Spitzner. These three weave some fine sonic tapestries together, merging as one to provide a modern, sleek sound that’s rooted in the classics of seventies metal without ever sounding hackneyed or rehashed. Underpinning this is the solid work of Mitch Zasada (bass) and drummer Alex Hloušek, who power the whole show in fine style.

Dennis Ward gives the whole thing massive helpings of zing! with a fine production and mix (does he ever deliver anything less?) with the result being an album with few, if any, identifiable weakness. Even at it’s least impressive – the more throwaway Breaking Away, perhaps – this is still clearly the work of hardened professionals who now how to put together a classic melodic hard rock tune. You owe it to yourselves to get in it your ears now!

Outbreak is out now.