If you’d have told me ten years ago that I’d be enjoying music of the melodic hard rock variety quite so much, I’d have looked at you as if you’d gone mad. It’s true that, as an early teenager, my musical path began with the likes of Def Leppard and I admit that this band still holds a special place in my heart. But ever adventurous, I quickly moved on to heavier climes. Nevertheless, as the years go by, tastes change and so here I am, reviewing the latest album from Swedish melodic hard rockers H.E.A.T and, as it plays for the umpteenth time in the background as I type, I’m basking in a warm glow. Of course, it helps that it’s warm and the sun is shining, because I always consider this type of music to be ‘summer music’; car window down, singing along at the top of one’s lungs, you know the drill.
H.E.A.T burst onto the scene almost from nowhere in 2007 with their debut self-titled album, receiving lashing of critical acclaim from journalists and fans alike. The sophomore release entitled “Freedom Rock” failed to live up to the same standard and the band was then dogged with that all-too-frequent problem of line-up difficulties. In the case of H.E.A.T, it centred on their vocalist Kenny Leckremo but, in the form of Swedish Idol winner, Erik Gronwall, they found their replacement and set about recording a new album. The result, “Address The Nation” is simply superb and kicks any concerns that fans may have had firmly in the posterior.
The album bursts into life with the up-tempo, melodic “Breaking The Silence” that initially reminds me of Edguy before settling into a bona fide stadium rocker. It’s as big a statement of intent as you are ever likely to hear and leaves you under no illusion that H.E.A.T mean business. If anything, the next two tracks, in the shape of “Living On The Run” and “Falling Down” are even better. The former displays a real 80s feel courtesy of massive synths throughout and an instant chorus, whilst the latter features my favourite chorus on the album without any doubt. Oh and did you want the obligatory ballad? Then look no further than the superbly saccharine “The One And Only” which slows things down before the likes of “Need Her” and “Better Off Alone” raise the adrenaline levels once more.
Whilst the entire band put in strong performances, it is inevitable that people’s focus will settle on Gronwell’s vocals and rightly so as he fits the music perfectly. With a great sense of melody, an understanding of when to sit back and when to belt it out, coupled with a laudable range, the guy has it all and deserves to take centre stage.
As can occasionally be the case with this genre however, “Address The Nation” feels like it cruises towards the finish and despite ending with the darker and brooding “Downtown”, the second half is arguably not as strong as the first. Oh and, as always, knock a point off for the inclusion of a saxophone in “In And Out Of Trouble”. Otherwise, this is a damn fine record and essential for fans of the genre.