Winger, largely, has always been a name associated with quality, well-executed melodic hard rock. Always one of the more progressive eighties metal bands in terms of musicianship, they’ve aged gracefully to the point where it’s no surprise that their first album in almost a decade, Seven, is a supremely deft exposition of intelligent, measured hard rock.

That’s not to say they have delivered something safe or sterile, far from it; Opening track Proud Desperado is a rousing rocker, as is the riffy Resurrect Me, whilst the more dramatic Tears Of Blood and It All Comes Back Around show the other side of the band to sparkling effect. Titular main man Kip Winger is in fine form vocally throughout, giving a controlled performance that plays to his many strengths within a lush production that never leaves him sounding exposed, whilst his band of instrumental brothers all deliver – as expected, obviously – at the highest possible level.

Though it isn’t the album’s best track, the singing and playing on the Zeppelinish Voodoo Fire shows Winger at it’s absolute best. Kip and rhythm buddy Rod Morgenstein lock into a strutting groove, Reb Beach and John Roth riff and solo with effortless fluidity whilst Paul Taylor lays down some tasteful Hammond for colour, whilst the vocals, both lead and backup, ooze into the gaps and spaces afforded by the music with a honeyed, practised ease to create an utterly spellbinding result. These men truly are masters at what they do.

Even the inevitable power ballad, Broken Glass, is constructed with an underlying maturity in the chord structures, making the the track more than just a perfunctory lighter-waving moment for live shows,; It’s clear that Winger put a lot more thought into their rock than many of their peers, and that effort will be rewarded by the reaction this album receives from the band’s die-hard fans, I’m sure.

Sensibly, Winger have replaced the ebullience of the eighties with tracks that, whilst still taking the listener back to those times (the talkbox-based It’s Okay especially) in essence, remain very much rooted in the modern day, No nostalgia sideshow this, Seven is in fact a fine, fine, modern hard rock record. Props to all involved.

Seven releases on MAY 5TH.