H.E.A.T (Sweden) - 2014 Tearing Down The Walls


ARTIST: H.E.A.T (Sweden)
ALBUM: Tearing Down The Walls
LABEL: Gain/Sony
SERIAL: 88843047102
YEAR: 2014


LINEUP: Erik Gronwall - Vocals * Eric Rivers - guitars * Jona Tee - keyboards * Jimmy Jay - bass * Crash - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Point Of No Return * 02 A Shot At Redemption * 03 Inferno * 04 The Wreckoning * 05 Tearing Down The Walls * 06 Mannequin Show * 07 We Will Never Die * 08 Emergency * 09 All The Nights * 10 Eye For An Eye * 11 Enemy In Me * 12 Laughing At Tomorrow

RATING: image



After three albums, H.E.A.T has ascended to the highest echelon of the current melodic rock scene. Not without some bumps in the road along the way, though. Losing a lead vocalist is always a scary thought for a band, but Erik Gronwall stepped into the role in a big way on 2012's 'Address The Nation'.

The obstacle for album number four was the departure of guitarist, founding member, and key songwriter Dave Dalone. I was certainly hoping that the band could withstand this loss, as they are definitely a key and important player these days. A new H.E.A.T album gets me excited, as it does many of us.

The Songs

My sons have played a few video games over the years that have a certain style of background music - soothing, mellow, with a simple melody. So, it was interesting hearing about a minute of this type of music once I pressed 'play'. But I could tell that it was building towards something special, and the payoff comes at 1:09.

'Point Of No Return' establishes that H.E.A.T is still perfectly capable of delivering their identifiable sound. A great rocker, with a buildup to a brief but effective guitar solo.

'A Shot At Redemption' is the first single, released several weeks before the album. I can't say that this song appealed to me as much as 'Living On The Run' did from the prior album, but it certainly sounded good. And it went a long way towards quelling any fears I might have had about the upcoming album. It's one of those songs where the title doesn't come up in the lyrics, and the song structure is kinda simple until the guitar solo kicks in. But it does rock.

As does 'Inferno', which rocks harder than anything we've heard from the band. This is definitely a song with a huge attitude, with aggressive lyrics and even some profanity that was initially surprising. I don't think I'd want an entire album like this, but the song lets you know that they're not gonna wimp out.

With a title like 'The Wreckoning', you'd probably expect another fiery instrumental. And 'Tearing Down The Walls' is a pretty hard-core song title. But the former is a fairly mellow opening to the anthemic title track that starts softly and builds to a strong finish.

With 'Mannequin Show', they show again that they're not afraid to throw some new ideas into their mix. Many have noted a strong similarity to Britney Spears' 2000 hit 'Oops I Did It Again'. And yeah, it's definitely noticeable. But this one (which is the second single) is definitely another harder-edged rocker. And it's the quirkiest-sounding song they've done so far.

By this point, H.E.A.T has managed to show that they can rock at a harder level than before. And they've shown more versatility in their sound than they had on any of their past three albums. So it seems like a good time for a song that sounds comfortably familiar. And 'We Will Never Die' fits the bill perfectly.

This would have fit perfectly on any of the past three albums. And it demonstrates why H.E.A.T has risen to the top. It's a straightforward song that has those extra touches that make it memorable - a nice shuffle beat, excellent guitar solo with a key change that catches your attention. Gronwall sounds enough like former vocalist Kenny Leckremo that your ears may do a double-take.

'Emergency' is another song that is more in line with what you'd expect on a H.E.A.T album - great opening, great rocking sound, and a classier-than-expected guitar solo.

After two great rockers, it's once again time for something totally different. How about vocals and piano only? With some light synths in the background for atmosphere? This is the kind of song that, if done poorly, can crash and burn, totally derailing the momentum of an album. Fortunately, 'All The Nights' is done darn well. It's a very classy affair, with heartfelt lyrics. In fact, throughout the album, the guys have stepped up the songwriting. That was a minor quibble on the last album. There are still some cheesy lyrics to be found here, but they're higher quality cheese.

If I had to pick a favourite song from this album, it may very well be 'Eye For An Eye'. Lyrically, it's the opposite of 'A Shot At Redemption' - rather a call for forgiveness wrapped in a well-executed rock song.

'Enemy In Me' has a bit of a glam sound that works very nicely. This is my wife's favourite song on here - I bet opinions would be all over the place choosing a favourite.

The album ends with 'Laughing At Tomorrow', another example of the strong songwriting on display here. The gang vocals in the chorus took a few listens to grow on me, but they do fit the song.

In Summary

Any fears you might have had about the future of H.E.A.T are surely dispelled with this excellent offering. What's most impressive to me about this album is that they managed to grow and expand their sound without changing who they are.

This contains more variety than any of their previous efforts. The overall feel is harder too, but not at the expense of melody.

These guys once again have shown why they're a major force. This will definitely make my top ten for the year, somewhere on the upper part.

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