The “T” stands for Talisman, Jeff Scott Soto’s old band. The singer has been one-third of W.E.T. since 2009, the year Marcel Jacob, bassist and founding member of Talisman, committed suicide after struggling with debilitating health problems. As for the “W” and “E,” they represent Work of Art and Eclipse, the two Swedish melodic rock bands that feature the multi-instrumental work of Robert Sall and Erik Martensson, respectively.

Introductions are necessary, because besides Soto, who has performed with the likes of Journey, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Yngwie Malmsteen, the rest of this “super group” is virtually unknown outside of Europe. Their sophomore album for Frontiers Records, Rise Up, may change all that. Pregnant with huge, sing-along choruses, unexpectedly heavy guitars, voluminous keyboards and unflinchingly earnest, big-hearted melodies, Rise Up is intentionally and completely out of step with the times, flooded with powerful adrenaline rushes like “Bad Boy” and “On the Run” that wish it was the ‘80s all over again.

Not at all subtle, Rise Up doesn’t want to be a record that grows on you. Immediacy is what W.E.T. is after, and though there are layers of instrumentation to excavate, Rise Up would rather go for the early knockout, with songs that are easy – almost too easy – to like and technically brilliant playing to boot. Vibrant and inspiring, this is a record with a bumper crop of singles, chock full of uplifting, three- to four-minute songs – like the inspiring title track, the life-affirming “Learn to Live Again” and the surging “Walk Away” – awash in slick, beefed-up production values and bursting at the seams with the kind of strong pop-metal hooks and dramatic currents Def Leppard wishes they could still write.

Rise Up should come with a warning, though, as miserable cynics and other dark-hearted bastards might choke on their own bile while trying to swallow the album’s defiant optimism and hopeful anthems, such as “What You Want,” “Broken Wings,” and “Still Unbroken.” And the amount of treacle spilling out of the overwrought ballad “Love Heals” could induce vomiting. Riddled with rock and roll clichés, Rise Up somehow still manages to sound fresh and alive – perhaps because the sparkling production, though polished to a shiny sheen, has a contemporary edge and feel to it. Then, there’s the guitar riffage, impressively muscular and dramatic, while Sall and Martensson are capable of producing fireworks displays of soloing that could light up the sky. Another more likely reason: the songwriting is that good, even if Rise Up has one foot in the ‘80s and another in the new millennium.