Album Title: Expedition One
Label: AFM Records
Date of Release: 19 January 2024
It is the year 2055 and the world is in turmoil. A team of renegades headed by five ‘commanders’, plans to undertake a survival expedition to other planets, in the hope of transferring mankind from Earth to a new world. Thus begins ‘Expedition One’, the fourth full-length album of Metalite’s career to date, alongside a full-on concept of epic proportions.
The clientele remains the same from previous releases, meaning that the Swedish modern melodic Euro metal band is comprised of Erica Ohlsson (Vocals), Edwin Premberg (Guitar), Robert Örnesved (Guitar), Lea Larsson (Drums), Robert Majd (Bass).
I reviewed the quintet’s fifth release, ‘A Virtual World’ back in 2021 and was only mildly impressed by it. So, if truth be told, had it not been mentioned by so many people on social media platforms as an album to look out for in 2024, I may well have simply let it pass me by. As it is, I have dived into ‘Expedition One’, complete with its sci-fi concept, and stand ready to commit my thoughts to a review.
It pains me to say it, but ‘Expedition One’ is, sadly, one of the most generic and underwhelming albums that I have heard for a while. And it genuinely disappoints me to have to say this. I never like being negative about albums, but sometimes I have to be. I have listened to this record a few times over the course of the last few days and my feelings have remained the same. There is precious little about Metalite here that offers something new or different from other bands that play a similar brand of metal. That ‘brand’ is overtly melodic, modern power-infused ‘symphonic’ Euro metal, laced liberally with electronics, big choruses, and a strong vocalist in the form of Erica Ohlsson. In metal terms, it’s easy listening, saccharine ear candy. But, unlike the market leaders, Amaranthe for example, there’s simply no uniqueness, no gimmick, nothing to make it stand out from the crowd. I could be listening to one of any number of bands within the genre.
To put a positive spin on ‘Expedition One’ though, it is undoubtedly slick, well produced, and professionally performed. Ohlsson has a good voice and can certainly sing, whilst the musicians that surround her are equally adept and put in a tight performance with their chosen instruments. The choruses throughout are big, the riffs are chunky, and the generally up-tempo, driving rhythms are full of energy. Yes, you will nod your head or move about in appreciation of what you’re hearing, but it’ll not change your life. The title track that kicks things off is a solid enough slab of catchy, and energetic metal, and I will concede that Metalite are a better proposition when they slow things down a little. Songs such as the broodier, darker ‘Outer Worlds’ and stomping, chugging ‘New Generation’ bring with them a little more by way of charm and longevity.
Unfortunately, for my tastes, the music just isn’t memorable enough, though. Too many songs like ‘CtrlAltDel’ and ‘Cyberdome’ are forgettable, average fodder that barely register a flicker. It takes until the fourteenth track and ‘Utopia’ to even get me to raise an eyebrow. And this is thanks to the instrumental piece featuring a very good, extended lead guitar solo, full of nuance, feeling, and energy. But, for the most part, when the pace is increased, I completely lose interest. Yes, there are hooks, yes there are big melodies, but the minute the album is over, I remember next to nothing about any of the songs. Plus, being comprised of no fewer than sixteen tracks, there is far too much average music to wade through here.
There will be a large number of people who read this review and vehemently disagree with me. There will be a sizeable sector of the metal community who will take ‘Expedition One’ to their hearts and will flock to their live shows in support of the Swedish five-piece. I get that, I really do and each to their own. But I do have to question why, when there are, in my opinion, better bands out there. Nevertheless, it’d be a dull world if we all agreed on everything. So, if you have a love of shiny, sparkly, and melodic Euro metal that does everything it should, Metalite’s new album will do you very nicely indeed. For everyone else, you’ll want to look elsewhere, and quickly.
The Score of Much Metal: 65%