The classic rock era is one that is held to lofty heights by many. From the psychedelic 70s to the all-out, big-haired glam of the late 80s, it’s famed for the ‘woah-yeah!’s and catchy riffs. It comes as no surprise, then, that many fans of such bands have since tried to replicate it in the modern day. A lot of the time it falls flat; resulting in a rather pitiful attempt at a bygone age. Sometimes, though, you get something that sounds straight out of any mainstream music channel back in the day.
Swedish hard rock band, H.E.A.T. achieved just that, with their eponymous debut. Heat is an album of twelve well-produced tracks, and was released in 2008, decades after the likes of Whitesnake, Jovi and Aerosmith – all of which are obvious inspirations in the band’s sound.
Heat opens with ‘There For You’, a decent track that, whilst far from the best on the album, showcases the vocals of then-vocalist Kenny Leckremo (later replaced by Eric Gronwall). It has some killer guitar, and sounds straight out of the 80s, which is surprisingly tough these days when attempted by other bands.
‘Never Let Go’ is a sure sign that, in an album of twelve tracks, a couple are bound to be throwaways, realistically. One can’t expect the glam rock pump of the 80s to sustain a full record these days – a lot of the time it didn’t back then – I suppose. ‘Never Let Go’ is not bad by a long shot, but relatively forgettable. The opening is pure Bon Jovi, though.
The third track opens with acoustic guitar, ultimately accompanying a truly stadium rock anthem. ‘Late Night Lady’ details the narrator’s infatuation with a call girl, it seems, with electrifyingly infectious guitar work from Dave Dalone and Eric Rivers; Leckremo’s vocals are once again sublime, on one of the best songs of the piece.
‘Keep On Dreaming’ has a very Def Leppard ‘Photograph’ vibe with the opening, and it feels really glam. Definitely a track with a strong sense of perseverance – a little cheesy at times, perhaps, but isn’t that 80s rock in a nutshell? ‘Follow Me’ proves a true ballad any rock band back in the day would be jealous of. The piano opening sets the tone for incoming drum barrage and gentler vocals. The chorus certainly builds, but outside of that proves somewhat generic, even if grand at times. The blistering guitar at the end certainly warrants a mention, though.
‘Straight For Your Heart’ is one of my all-time favourites of the group. With Jovi-esque background vocals, this track just rocks and rocks. It sounds awesome; the chorus ridiculously catchy with easy lyrics to follow along to. This once is certainly a headbanger.
The debut from H.E.A.T. then gives us ‘Cry’, with piercing guitar and a darker tone, detailing the pain that heartbreak can cause. The chorus is simple but effective, providing a more sorrowful punch to the album’s themes.
‘Feel It Again’ is quite probably the record’s best track. it’s fact-paced, with exquisite guitar work and one of the catchiest choruses out there. Everything you want in a hard rock track. Leckremo’s voice really shines through here in an anthem of breaking from a troubled relationship.
‘Straight Up’ has an opening drumbeat that really belongs in a dark set in an MTV music video. One of the more glam tracks, ‘Straight Up’ pumps away with pistons of rock and steel. ‘Bring the Stars’ is a fairly throwaway track, but has a chugging beat nonetheless.
The album ends on a high, however, with two great tracks that are each worthy of note. ‘You’re Lying’ is the ultimate testament to an unfaithful lover, with Lekremo delivering a powerful performance once more, handling packed verses with ease. It’s got a contagious chorus, and definitely remains one of the highlights of an already great album. ‘What can you do to prove me wrong?’
‘Feel the Heat’ is perhaps slightly lackluster for a semi-titular track, with has a more dragging beat that works to open a live act, and the synth throughout is pure early 80s Whitesnake/Jovi. Would it work better as a closer, or the album’s opener? I guess we’ll never know.
The album is definitely a great homage (if not outright replicate) to 80s hard rock/stadium rock, perfectly drawing inspiration each and every one of its titanic bands in some way or another. The riffs are catchy, choruses big and the hair unruly. The vocals from Leckremo are stellar, and it’s quite nicer to hear the Swedish tinge come through. That, couples with more modern production, creates the ultimate modern classic rock album. I’m really excited about this record, and a lot of the tracks are made to blast on repeat.