H.E.A.T - II

H.E.A.T II cover
Gain Music Entertainment / earMusic
Let’s be honest, H.E.A.T, who were “discovered” by actor/musician/connoisseur Peter Stormare, were doing okay, but never managed to climb to the echelon of melodic bands, with old behemoths still holding tight onto their headline spots, no matter how talented young pretenders might be.
Losing their original singer, Kenny Leckremo, seemed like a big deal, one that could end the band, but they took in a “Voice” kid wonder by the name of Erik Grönwall and took the time to actually groom and hone him into a bona fide singer and frontman, so when they debuted with him, results where, no less than stunning. However losing their guitarist and main songwriters, Dalone and Rivers (with the latter making a comeback) meant that the band went through a rather dry and unremarkable spell that culminated with 2017 “The Great Unknown” that really seemed to be the nail in the coffin for these young whippersnappers. It wasn’t meant to be however.
Resetting pretty much everything and going on to self-produce their new album – they chose to dub “II”, they certainly managed to recapture a lot of their lost mojo, even if this throwback makes them sound slightly, I wouldn’t go as far as to say dated, but reliced.
The band seems to take a no prisoners approach, with this album being one of their rockiest to date, with Dalone on fire on the guitars, often complemented by JT’s keys that aim to fill in the void that a second guitar has left. The heavy touring makes certain the band sounds tight and authoritative and well Grönwall, he just delivers like his life depended on it.
If you like “Address the Nation”, this album sounds like it’s 80s/90s cousin. It has a bunch of excellent songs, but probably lacks a megahit like “Living on the Run” or “It’s All About Tonight”…
“Rock Your Body” has this raunchy Def Leppard vibe, but then it sleazes out, taking a page out of Whitesnake’s songbook and making a paper airplane out of it, opting to stick out it’s tongue and also pilfer a few ideas of early Europe. The bouillabaisse is tasty enough… and sounds unmistakably like H.E.A.T.
“Dangerous Ground” could have been the new “Danger Zone” (sort of) if “Top Run” (the original sequel to Top Gun) was ever made. You get the idea. Top notch 80s rock anthem with a chorus that goes on for miles. Sexy.
“Come Clean” brings the keys to the front for a dramatic and dynamic tune that feels like a H.E.A.T instaclassic.
“Victory” is quite pompous and wimpy, with Grönwall, even channeling a little Dio when he’s raspier. If this is pop metal, sign me up.
“We Are Gods” is funkier, but has the same cocksure character and a heavy as hell riff (the heaviest you’d expect the band to sound). Think Leppard and Queen when they sounded rocking and heavy… (ie “Princess of the Universe”, “Headlong” etc.) that sort of euphoric melodic rock with incredible vocals.
“Adrenaline” opens with some sing-along “oooh’s” and goes directly into high gear – no problem –  soon bursting into an cool chorus and reprising the sing-along parts. Awesome bubblegum rock with a huge chorus, just like they used to make em!
“One By One” is more percussive and hi-tech 80s inspired MR. Think Winger on steroids.
“Nothing to Say” is the sole ballad on offer, you can tell as soon as the spacey keys make their presence felt, soon complimented by some soft guitars. Think of what Bon Jovi, can’t even come close to these days, with a more sparkly chorus of Foreigner proportions. It’s the good shit.
I was half expecting “Heaven Must Have Won An Angel” to be a ballad too and it’s certainly quite melodic at first, but it’s the sort of AOR inspired power ballad, that’s been turned into a mid-tempo melodic anthem just by adding a beat to it. It’s no dud and it fits the album well, after a slower track.
With a song called “Under the Gun”, you can’t expect anything less than something excitable and that’s what you get. It might not be as good as the Danger Danger epic or even the Eclipse one, but it’s not miles away and it’s a perfect transition to the album’s conclusion the slow burning, but totally mega “Rise” that sounds like something that didn’t end up in a Europe album of old, but should most definitely had.
While “II” might not be the best H.E.A.T album, it certainly is their most consistent to this point. A very welcome return to form.