Three years after her solo album, ex-Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon teams up with Jani Liimatainen, former guitarist of Sonata Arctica, in The Dark Element. The band’s sound is a blend of Scandinavian symphonic metal and a surprisingly strong pop sensibility. There’s heaviness here but the tunes are super catchy – Here’s To You and Someone You Used to Know are the sort of lighters-in-the-air, arena-friendly anthems that made Desmond Child a wealthy man in the 80s. Olzon sounds in fine voice and unlike her fellow Nightwish alumni Tarja Turunen, she sings the melody rather than indulging in operatic vocal gymnastics. Dead To Me boasts some extra crunch in Liimatainen’s guitar riff, while the keyboards and programming in Halo showcase his very contemporary approach to the arrangements, one that isn’t too far away from Exit Eden’s recent album featuring metal covers of pop and R&B songs. The lyrics can be a little awkward – ‘I’ve been wasting away like Christ on the cross,’ sings Olzon in I Cannot Raise The Dead – but the album is loaded with big musical hooks that add up to a hugely accessible slice of sweeping, dramatic grandeur.