Following from the phenomenal ‘Into the Great Unknown’, Swedish Kings of AOR H.E.A.T. have released an album that stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the all–time greats and is by far and away the best thing they’ve done. Earlier albums had their fair share of fire but this album truly roars, heavier than ever, there is no compromise to the power or melody as the constant touring has paid dividends and sees the band on magnificent and world conquering form.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiv3-1Ync2o&w=560&h=315]
From the opening notes of ‘Rock Your Body’ you’re immediately caught up in the juggernaut of this massive sound where classic AOR meets something much more feral. Rammed with all that makes the genre great, they’ve added a really dirty and dangerous edge to their trademark sound with singer Erik Gronwall really unleashing that rocket-fueled kinetic stage energy as he lets loose in the studio.
Dave Dalone’s guitar sounds equally untamed, literally rampaging over the album and the fact that this all sounds so good is down to the production that he and keys player Jona Tee have worked so hard on in the recording process. ‘Dangerous Ground’ is a breakneck rocker that tears along at 100mph, the guitars lacerate and the solo scorches as the band refuse to compromise, giving their all and ‘Come Clean’ glories in skyscraping melodies that stadiums would be hard pressed to contain.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6d8xJqY2uA&w=560&h=315]
There seems to be a tangible sense of massive self confidence that runs through the album like lettering through a stick of rock and this is not just reflected in the music itself but the song titles also shout it from the rooftops. The propulsive ‘Velocity’ and ballsy ‘We Are Gods’ are statements that H.E.A.T. have the swagger and chops to more than fulfil, the latter in particular like being hit to the side of the head by Thor’s Hammer.
Adrenaline’ and ‘One By One’ continue the all-out assault of melody and no holds barred excitement that charges along like a rhino taken over by the spirit of Mo Farrar but there is also certainly light and shade here as the powerful and heartfelt ballad ‘Nothing to Say’ shows the Swedes more sensitive side.
Vocals, keys, guitar and the drums of Don Crash and Jimmy Jay’s bass work in perfect alignment in ‘Heaven Must Have Won An Angel’, a song built for an action movie soundtrack if ever there was one and ‘Under the Gun’ has a monstrous riff that lopes and charges out of the speakers with an urgency born out of necessity.
Ending on a world-shattering note, ‘We Rise’ has the force of a meteorite and shows that, if any doubts weren’t already decimated before it, that this is a band at the top of their game. H.E.A.T. should be rightfully proud of ‘II’, each track an absolute Killer and should put them up there with the likes of the best of Bon Jovi, Foreigner et al.
A towering achievement and one that will delight fans of melodic hard rock worldwide, H.E.A.T. have produced a 24-carat masterpiece. Turn it on and turn it up!
Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM