‘II’ is H.E.A.T’s intended return to their roots after the rather experimental ‘Into the Great Unknown’ from 2017.
Written by: DaveT
LABEL: Ear Music
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Sweden
LINEUP: Erik Gronwall – vocals * Dave Dalone – guitar * Jona Tee – keyboards * Jimmy Jay – bass * Don Crash – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Rock Your Body * 02 Dangerous Ground * 03 Come Clean * 04 Victory * 05 We Are Gods * 06 Adrenaline * 07 One By One * 08 Nothing To Say * 09 Heaven Must Have Won An Angel * 10 Under The Gun * 11 Rise
‘II’ is H.E.A.T’s intended return to their roots after the rather experimental ‘Into the Great Unknown’ from 2017. According to the press release, this is how a debut album would currently sound, hence the title. The lineup remains the same from its predecessor, only this time guitarist Dave Dalone abandoned his >Sky Davis moniker. For the first time, the in-house team of Tee and Dalone has taken over production duties, with longtime producer Tobias Lindell only in charge of the mixing.
‘Rock Your Body’ is the bombastic start in full Def Leppard mode with a clever guitar riff that mirrors the massive earworm chorus, one that becomes a bit repetitive during the 4-minute song, while ‘Dangerous Ground’ rocks out at 100 mph with a certain Motley Crue flavor. After this stinging one-two, let’s go over the songs grouping them by style, shall we?
For the AOR fan, we’ve got the fantastic ‘Come Clean’ with its addictive chorus and keys. ‘Adrenaline’s verses sound like inspired by the classic ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’ while the chorus and sweet >’whoa oh oh ‘ gang backing vocals are H.E.A.T’s trademark. ‘One By One’ is the quality Melodic Rock piece of the album.
The heavier side is represented by ‘Victory’ and ‘We Are Gods’. The former is proud Euro-Metal and the lyrics seem to be tailor-made to these pandemic times while the latter starts bluesy but quickly takes a U-turn into a dark, heavy tune with a pounding refrain that would make Manowar proud.
‘Nothing To Say’ is the power ballad of the album. Slightly evocative of Europe in style, Jona Tee does an exceptional job with his keyboard arsenal. However, I’m not that sold on the lyrics and vocal melody. ‘Heaven Must Have Won An Angel’ is traditional Scandi-rock while ‘Under The Gun’ is perhaps the most standard tune, borrowing the soul of the opening song riff and a few Hard Rock cliches like the stadium chorus.
Luckily, ‘II’ ends on a high note with the energizing ‘Rise’ in which the verses build up to a superb chorus of deafening proportions, to an extent that the current H.E.A.T tour was called ‘Sign In The Northern Sky’ after the song’s lyrics.
Now, I have a few caveats on the album’s memorability. It took me a good three months to get around to reviewing it, mainly ’cause I struggled to listen to it in one sit. Let me expand on the idea. To these ears, all instruments (vocals included) are fighting to take center stage in the mix most of the time. A good deal of the vocal efforts, guitar solos and drumming seem like more oriented to make an impact in terms of strength and speed than melodically.
On the one hand, that causes nuances to be lost, solos to be buried and a certain ear fatigue while, on the other hand, it makes the energy levels to appear as forced/contrived to the detriment of the actual power of the music.
This is a good album in which H.E.A.T returns to the guitar-heavy vibe of their first releases while undoubtedly retaining their melodic edge. Is it a masterpiece? Not to the level it’s been praised in most of the media. It’s only my opinion, based on what’s stated in the review.
One By One