Release date: February 21, 2020
Crash = Lars Jarkell
1. Rock Your Body 4:04
2. Dangerous Ground 4:07
3. Come Clean 3:44
4. Victory 4:28
5. We Are Gods 4:11
6. Adrenaline 4:26
7. One By One 3:47
8. Nothing To Say 4:08
9. Heaven Must Have Won An Angel 4:42
10. Under The Gun 3:25
11. Rise 4:18
The Swedish Melodic Rock sensation H.e.a.t is back with a new album, simply called “II”. It’s the band’s sixth studio album, so why pretending it would be the second one? The band quotes it was the first time they had full control over every aspect producing this album – much like on their first album, which means „II“ is some kind of spiritual successor to their debut. The message is clear: On their sixth effort H.e.a.t. are going all the way back to their roots and I appreciate this very much.
To me, it wasn’t that much of a surprise, because their last album “Into The Great Unknown” was very mixed received by the fanbase because of the more modern direction in sound. I was also one of those persons, who didn’t like that change in style – to me that wasn’t H.e.a.t anymore. The guys had to deal with a lot of backlash on Social Media, so it was clear that something had to change with the next album – and here we are.
On “II” H.e.a.t went back to all their strengths: catchy melodic rock anthems with balls in best old 80’s fashion while still sounding fresh and unique. The influences of H.e.a.t are clear: think about Journey, Bon Jovi, Survivor and many more bands of that era. The good thing is: the band never sounds like a copy of them – they just take the elements that made those bands so famous and make them their own – and this time they even surpass their idols.
The opener “Rock Your Body” is a groove monster that sets the tone perfectly for the things to come. With “Dangerous Ground” we have the first stand out track that comes along with overwhelming power and playfulness. The following “Come Clean” is the perfect sing-along radio song, which would have been a massive hit in the late 80‘s. With “Victory” the next highlight follows – another high energy track with a good portion of heaviness, but still very melodic especially in the bridge right before the chorus kicks in. In general, you can say that this album rocks a bit harder than previous ones. “We are Gods” is the perfect example of this. Here we also get to hear some more blues influences to keep things varied.
With “Adrenaline” we get another winner in best Journey tradition – the chorus is so sugar sweet – it will stuck in your head for weeks – I promise you that. What follows is “One By One” – the first single from this album, another typical killer H.e.a.t track. Now things get slowed down a bit with the only ballad on this record, called “Nothing To Say”. This song took a little while to convince me because I still had former ballads like “Tearing Down The Walls” and “The One and Only” in my ear, which I liked a bit more. But the new one is a grower and meanwhile, I won’t miss it. It is a welcome alternation on this album.
Next song “Heaven Must Have Won An Angel” is also one of the more softer tunes on this record and features again a high-class chorus to sing along for days. With the next track “Under The Gun”, we get one of the heaviest songs on this album. This is another banger but the melody is not so much on focus – personally, this is the only track on this album that can’t keep up with the other songs to me, but it is still a cool melodic hard rock track. The closing “Rise” shows H.e.a.t at their best once more: gang shouts – check, huge anthemic melody – check, kick-ass vocals – check, 80’s vibe – check. That’s the perfect way to close a brilliant album.
I think singer Erik Grönwall is a true blessing for this band because he gives every song such high energy. He keeps the whole thing interesting and because of his style of singing it never gets too cheesy – a problem many AOR/Melodic rock bands have to deal with. But also the rest of the band had so much fun recording this album – you hear the playfulness in every second. We have plenty of great guitar solos here, a tight rhythm section and a nice, clean production. If there is one thing to complain about, it is the fact that we just get 11 songs. You can’t blame the band for this, but I would have loved to hear another 5 songs with this high quality. But what is the repeat button for?
In conclusion, I just can say that H.e.a.t are back on track – even more than that. With this album, they have outdone themselves. It has great songwriting, a galore of catchy melodies, a kick-ass sound and most of all it is fun as hell to listen to this record. People who are into this kind of music – don’t look any further – H.e.a.t are the perfect choice for you. It is March and with “II” we have the first album of the year contender. Very well done!
Written by: Thomas Schwarzkopf