Album review: HEAT – II


earMUSIC [Release date 21.02.20]

That difficult sixth album? Should that have been HEAT 2.0?

The motive behind the title is not clear, even when reading explanation from the band. When a band uses its name in the album title this far down the line, then you expect some kind of reappraisal, a reflection of the story so far perhaps, or maybe a new direction. But it’s none of these.

Lyrically, it won’t win any Pulitzers. These are lyrics shaped as slogans, easily digested and easily regurgitated in fist pumping unison, in the style of stadium anthems. They’ll go down well with their fan demographic.

Musically, it’s strong, but some good material is masked by the sheer intensity of production and performance. Every amp is set to “stun” and every needle is quivering in the red zone. Good bands learn that in rock music, as much as in anything creative, it’s subtracting, not adding that tends to make it great. You need to treat shade as the equal of light.

Looking past that, the album unfolds along conventional melodic rock lines, embracing just enough aurally adhesive hooks to catch us before we fall.

On ‘Rock Your Body’, ‘Dangerous Ground’ and ‘Adrenaline’, singer Erik Gronwall’s powerful, passionate voice seems to suck up thousands of volts of electricity then spit them out in 3 or 4 minute bursts of highly tuneful, highly energised melodic rock. These are songs written to be performed live.

Driven by a maddeningly familiar keyboard riff, ‘Come Clean’ is perhaps the album’s most accessible track. Maybe it stands out that little bit more because it’s sandwiched between the kitchen sink production and power metal inclinations of close neighbours, the shouty ‘Victory’ and the outright strange, mutated blues of ‘We Are Gods’.

‘One By One’ and ‘Rise’ rein back the bombast a little, and because of that they shine. But not just because of that… these are two sparkling little gems that are difficult to see at first because of the fireworks exploding all around them. Yes, they are firmly in the mould of declamatory stadium rock, but in effect, the relatively restrained production gives the music extra weight and also the renewed relevance that perhaps “II” was purpose built to achieve.  ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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