As soon as you mention Scandinavian hard rock – or, more specifically, Swedish hard rock – to anybody with an interest in music then the word Europe isn’t usually too far behind. Swedish hard rockers H.E.A.T. don’t really sound a lot like Europe but there are similarities there, and if there is a band out there that really tap into the ’80s-style, anthemic hard rock that albums like “The Final Countdown” represent then H.E.A.T. are that band, and fourth album “Tearing Down the Walls” is as integral to capturing the vibe of the mid-’80s than any repeated plays of “Slippery When Wet” or “Hysteria”.
Which is quite a big claim but what is it about those albums that people remember? The huge singalong choruses and songs that stay with you, and “Tearing Down the Walls” has them in droves. Opening track ‘Point of No Return’ is a little misleading as it begins with a delicately picked acoustic passage before opening out into a pretty standard rocker, albeit one that has all the ingredients – big riff, gang-style backing vocals and a soaring lead vocal from singer Erik Grönwall – but ingredients that don’t feel mixed as well as they could.
However, this is all forgotten when it comes to second track and lead single ‘A Shot at Redemption’, a huge, ball-breaking hard rock anthem that, if this were the 1980s, would be getting as much radio play as ‘The Final Countdown’, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ or ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’. Seriously, it’s that massive and hopefully the band will get to play it at some festivals just to see a field full of people going mental – it needs to happen.
From then on the album comes into its own as anthems are thrown out like guitar picks after a gig. The pacey ‘Inferno’ is a surefire live favourite, as is the slower, power-ballad emotion of the title track but this isn’t a complete throwback album as what H.E.A.T. do is take what was great about melodic hard rock – and it doesn’t matter how much of a poe-faced, anti-establishment, underground metal loving crusader you claim to be as we all really like a catchy chorus and a memorable riff – without any of the poser-ish traits that come with it; their influences may be glam metal but these aren’t a bunch of Poison-esque pretty boys with no substance.
It would be fair to say that not every song on here is a cast-iron classic, but when the band hit their stride – as they do on the majority of the songs – then it really is a thing of beauty. The keyboards never get too high in the mix or overpower the guitars, as many bands were guilty of back in the ’80s, and the band play with confidence as if they know that this could be their time. With tracks like ‘A Shot at Redemption’, the bluesier ‘Emergency’ and the bouncy party rock of ‘Enemy in Me’ in their arsenal then there’s no reason that this band shouldn’t go on to be huge. Here’s hoping.
H.E.A.T. will be playing the UK this month on the following dates:
London Garage – Friday 16th May
Newcastle O2 Academy 2 – Saturday 17th May
Glasgow Cathouse – Sunday 18th May
Manchester Academy 3 – Monday 19th May