Album Title: Tearing Down The Walls
Year of Release: 2014
One of the hardest things for any band to do, regardless of the longevity of their career or their popularity is to follow up a great album. In the case of Swedish melodic hard rockers H.E.A.T, that great album in my opinion was 2012’s ‘Address The Nation’. It remains a regular on my playlist and, if I was forced to choose, I’d say it was in my top 3 of melodic hard rock albums. So it is the highest accolade that I can bestow on it’s follow-up and the band’s fourth full-length release, to say that ‘Tearing Down The Walls’, matches it and maybe even beats it.
Naturally, I had high hopes for ‘Tearing Down The Walls’, but then it seems that anyone who knows anything about H.E.A.T also had high hopes. Moreover, there was a certain expectation amongst many that this album would, or should, be very good indeed. The great news is that it is very good indeed and has been glued to my stereo for several days now, with no sign of being ejected. Suffice to say that Messrs Grönwall (vocals), Tee (keyboards), Rivers (guitars), Jay (bass) and Crash (drums) should be very proud of their efforts on this album.
Up first on ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is actually my current favourite track on the album. Entitled ‘Point Of No Return’, is begins quietly with a keyboard and acoustic guitar intro for around a minute before exploding into the main body of the track. And when I say, it explodes, I mean it. Pounding drums, and wailing guitars join forces with a driving rhythm to great effect, laying the foundations before a chorus to end all choruses kicks in and blows my mind. The first time I heard this track, I found myself smiling and nodding my head in appreciation almost immediately.
Lead single, ‘A Shot At Redemption’ takes things down a notch and is, for me at least,a bit of a slow burner. It maintains a great mid-tempo stomp throughout but at first, the slightly country-tinged and early Bon Jovi-esque composition didn’t click with me. Give it time though, and the chorus begins to work it’s magic and this is now the track that I find myself singing the most when the album finishes.
‘Inferno’ cranks things up a notch again, with a groove and swagger that is unmistakeably H.E.A.T. It is heavy on the melodic rock cliches, and with lyrics that include ‘I like to drink and masturbate’, it is also heavy on the sleaze. However, thanks with a chorus to die for, a cock-sure attitude a great vocal performance from the former Swedish Idol winner Erik Gronwall, the song somehow manages to become an absolute classic. If this is really how things sounded in the 80s, I want to go back.
‘The Wreckoning’ is that most rare of melodic rock beasts; a minute-long ominous and cinematic instrumental which segues nicely into the title track and first of two ballads of the album. It is a wonderfully-crafted power ballad, the sort of musical saccharine that would normally have me diving for cover but when executed this well, compels me to listen and, dare I say it, throw my head back and sing along, albeit dangerously out of key.
The melody line to ‘Mannequin Show’ is immediately reminiscent of Britney Spears’ ‘Oops…I did it Again’. There’s no hiding from this, but then, there’s no hiding from the fact that in spite of this, it is not a track that feels out of place or of a lesser quality in any shape or form. The keys are more prominent on this piece but once again, a strong rhythm section delivers us to a chorus that can’t help but get under your skin. To be honest, most other bands might have struggled to pull off a track like this, but H.E.A.T somehow succeed.
‘We Will Never Die’ offers another killer chorus, making it another personal favourite, whilst ‘Emergency’ delivers more in the way of solid groove and yet again showcases H.E.A.T’s ability to write properly engaging melodic hard rock that will last longer than just a few cursory listens.
‘All The Nights’ is a beautifully fragile and beguiling piano-and-vocal ballad that really impresses me and in many ways, rather than being a throw-away track, is one of show-stealers of the album’s second half. Not only does it effectively alter the pace of the album, allow listeners a breather from the high-octane rock assault, it is a brilliant vehicle for Grönwall’s powerful and emotive voice.
At this point, nine tracks in, the quintet may have been excused for delivering a couple of average songs to close out the album. Not a chance though, as the remaining three tracks all manage to maintain the extremely high standards that precede them. ‘Eye For An Eye’ thrusts another catchy-as-help chorus upon us, ‘Enemy In Me’ reminds me at times of Def Leppard in their pomp and ‘Laughing At Tomorrow’ closes out the whole thing in almost euphoric fashion thanks to a big stadium-friendly sing-a-long core.
To be quite honest, I hadn’t intended on giving a song by song breakdown in this review. However, that’s the effect that this album has on me – I get swept up in it. The heady mix of powerful driving rock, hook-laden choruses and abundant attitude of ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is infectious and impossible to ignore.
Put as simply as I can, ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is easily one of the best melodic hard rock albums I have heard in a very long time.
‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is out on April 9th on earMUSIC
The Score of Much Metal: 9