Since 2007 H.E.A.T have been flying the flag for full-tilt melodic rock, releasing three albums and entering their chart-topping single ‘1000 Miles’ for the Eurovision song contest in 2009 along the way. The band’s fourth album, ‘tearing down the walls’, once again lays out everything that the Swedes do so well: huge guitars, histrionic vocals and rampant choruses that recall the muscular might of Whitesnake and the pop sensibility of Europe.
The first track, ‘point of no return’ sees the band kick the album off in high gear with a brief acoustic introduction giving way to the band’s patented bombast. All the elements are present and correct: a ruthless beat that propels the song ever forward, pristine guitars which veer between monumental power chords and fretboard-scorching solos and, of course, Erik Gronwall’s note-perfect vocals delivered with all the grace and power of David Coverdale himself. ‘A shot at redemption’ (from the recent EP of the same name) opens with acoustic guitars strummed over a foundation-rumbling beat, and the song itself perfectly captures the power that Bon Jovi briefly possessed on the gazillion-selling album ‘Slippery when wet’. It showcases the band’s expert ability to craft pop melodies effortlessly even whilst tearing out bare-chested solos upon windswept mountain tops and there is no doubt that the band have the sound, the attitude and the songs to dominate world stages when they go on tour. The aptly named ‘Inferno’ is a crowd pleasing hard rock belter with a devilish grin and a neat line in Deep Purple-esque keyboards, whilst the throbbing bass that underpins Erik’s lung-bursting vocals on the verse shakes the building at high volumes. It’s the sort of high-octane rock ‘n’ roll that makes you want to grab a beer and celebrate the simple fact of being alive, and if that doesn’t convince you that H.E.A.T are for you then surely nothing will. ‘The wreckoning’ is a brief segue track awash with the sound of echoing alarms (which sound suspiciously like they were sourced from Perfect Dark) and sinister orchestration before the band unleash the title track, an epic power ballad that is guaranteed to have even non-smokers fumbling for lighters when it’s played in the live arena. A rock ‘n’ roll ballad that looks set to rival the likes of ‘here I go again’, and ‘home sweet home’ in the legendary ballad stakes, you’d have to be cynical indeed to ignore its ridiculously excessive charms.
‘Mannequin show’ steals Annie Lennox’s keyboards, only to dip into breezy hard rock territory with those flaming guitars once again doing battle with the band’s more melodic tendencies, although even they can’t disguise the fact that the chorus is straight out of the Brittany Spears songbook and it’s a testament to the band’s unassailable cheek that they pull it off with surprising aplomb. ‘We will never die’ looks to Def Leppard for inspiration with its huge drums and epic chorus whilst ‘Emergency’ sees Crash giving it his all on the drums as Eric Rivers plays around with his guitar FX like the proverbial child in a sweetshop. Once again recalling Bon Jovi at his peak with its insistent melody and impassioned vocal, it neatly straddles the line between eighties hair metal and modern AOR with the familiar melodies taken from the former and the perfect production job keeping things firmly in the here and now. ‘All the nights’ is a solemn, sombre work led by piano and filled out with rich strings as Erik emotes in the darkness. If this was anyone else it’s be tempting to dismiss the song out of hand, but such is the innate skill of the band and so adept are they at their craft that it’s just impossible to ignore it. ‘Eye for an eye’ kick starts the mood once again with its chunky guitars and neatly double tracked vocals, whilst Jimmy Jay earns his pay with his warm, deep bass. ‘Enemy in me’ is one of the album’s most enjoyable tracks, the band impressively keeping the high standard of song-writing right up to the end, indulging in an Alice Cooper stomp as Erik whispers “addiction” over and over again. Almost without warning the album lands upon its final song, the overblown, melodic blast that is ‘laughing at tomorrow’, a perfectly phrased conclusion to an album that is delivered at a breathless pace.
What more is there to say about H.E.A.T? The band draw from the very best of the eighties hard rock, referencing Leppard, Journey, Whitesnake and Bon Jovi ,whilst adding their own distinct slant to proceedings. The production is utterly flawless, and each instrument is represented in perfect clarity, whilst the band’s most considerable strengths surely lie in the mighty lungs of Erik Gronwall and the mighty guitar chops of Eric Rivers. That is not to discount the efforts of the rest of the band however, with each member delivering a tight, energetic performance and what really stands out is the pop nous that the band display, rendering each and every one of the tracks here a memorable effort in its own right and a potential single. If you love powerful, heartfelt rock, then H.E.A.T are a band you simply have to check out – ‘tearing down the walls’?? Too right – with rock this epic, no wall is safe around H.E.A.T!