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The Dark Element’s eponymously titled debut album was a thoroughly fucking lovely surprise at the tail-end of 2017. The Scandinavian pairing of ex-Nightwish frontwoman Anette Olzon and ex-Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen proved to be a musically explosive one. The resulting songs had flavours of Olzon’s Nightwish days (‘My Sweet Mystery’, for example, was unashamedly Olzon-era Nightwish through and through), yet ultimately transcended any sense of mimicry through Liimatainen’s masterful compositional skills, where an incessancy of captivating melodies were driven along by an invigorating metal impetus in some ever so well-crafted tracks. He evidently wrote a series of songs that were there to showcase the strengths of Olzon’s perennially wonderful voice, and she delivered on the vocal front.

So, their sophomore offering is here, ‘Songs the Night Sings’, and, bottom-line, it’s more of the same, with a few divergences. Jonas Kuhlberg returns on bass, although Rolf Pilve seems to have replaced Jani Hurula behind the kit, but the core sound the quartet established on ‘The Dark Element’ is still intact. Olzon’s voice shines, as always, and Liimatainen’s multi-instrumental talents impress once again, particularly his fretboard widdling, although he’s also adept at adding varying keys in all the right places. The likes of ‘Not Your Monster’ and ‘Songs the Night Sings’, which both open the album, are perhaps the most Nightwishy tracks present… the latter emphatically so. But this opening duality of compositions that seem to be styled in Tuomas Holopainen’s heyday quickly give way to so much more, where, as with The Dark Element’s debut, the songs seem to take on a life of their own, free from mimicry.

‘Pills on My Pillow’ provides one of the album’s divergences, with a song that’s propelled along by an almost four-on-the-floor, power-disco beat. Mid-album track, ‘To Whatever End’, is a sublimely realised down-tempo number that has beautiful balladic passages, which become beefed up in the instrumentation as it progresses into something rather grand. And closer ‘I Have to Go’ veers towards a touch of lounge, complete with a warmly enticing vocal from Olzon, and with a more interesting sense of instrumentation than what you’d normally associate with a laidback lounge composition. There are even moments when the album seems to be linked back to the debut, such as in 'When it All Comes Down', where a delicately introduced melody, three quarters of the way through, has been lifted directly from 'The Last Goodbye'.

While 'Songs the Night Sings' is not quite as majestic an album as its predecessor, this is still a mightily strong work, that's loaded with another set of finely crafted, deliciously melodic songs, chock full of catchier than catchy hooks and refrains. The musical pairing of Olzon and Liimatainen continues to be a winning one.
Frontiers Music
Review by Mark Holmes
8th November 2019
1) Not Your Monster
2) Songs the Night Sings
3) When It All Comes Down
4) Silence Between the Words
5) Pills on My Pillow
6) To Whatever End
7) The Pallbearer Walks Alone
8) Get Out of My Head
9) If I Had a Heart
10) You Will Learn
11) I Have to Go
"...another set of finely crafted, deliciously melodic songs, chock full of catchier than catchy hooks and refrains."