ADDRESS THE NATION
Released on March 23, 2012 (Gain Music Entertainment/earMusic)
01. Breaking The Silence
02. Living On The Run
03. Falling Down
04. The One And Only
05. Better Off Alone
06. In And Out Of Trouble
07. Need Her
09. It’s All About Tonight
Japanese Bonus Track:
11. Back Into Your Arms
Erik Gronwall – vocals
Dave Dalone – guitar
Eric Rivers – guitar
Eli Reeve – bass
Crash – drums
Jona Tee – keyboards
Produced by Tobias Lindell.
Hailed as the new messiahs of AOR thanks to the triumph of their 2009 self-titled debut, any hopes of a prolix future were halted when H.E.A.T vocalist Kenny Leckremo quit unexpectedly two years later, shortly after the release of 2010’s highly acclaimed Freedom Rock opus. But wasting no time in finding a replacement, the Nordic rockers enlisted Swedish Idol winner Erik Gronwall — quickly restoring any doubts as per the band’s futurity.
Two years on and H.E.A.T are back to ‘Address The Nation’ with their fourth studio album. Far fluffier than any of its predecessors, the first thing that’s obvious about this release is that it sounds incredible. Which is most likely the result of not only choosing new ‘celebrity’ singer Gronwall, but also putting faith into the hands of Grammy award-winning producer Tobias Lindell — whose discography has operated the works of Europe, Mustache, Hardcore Superstar, and even Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg, for well over a decade now.
Cookin’ on a fresh supply of gas from the word ‘go’, Address The Nation is a glorious palette of glimmering treble, crystal clear mid-range, and radio melodies that define classic H.E.A.T and what they’re all about. “Breaking The Silence” of the last two years, the album’s opener does exactly that, combining the sextet’s AOR sound with infectious gang vocals and melodic hooks that traverse the superb and euphoric synth work of Jona Tee.
Venturing off into new experimental territory, influences are made crystal clear in “In And Out Of Trouble” — a track that rocket launches into a handsome, Michael Monroe inspired sax riff, taking the H.E.A.T bandwagon to places fuelled with a new and exciting glam-rock twist. But that’s nothing compared to the surprises on offer with “It’s All About Tonight” where the heat is well and truly on! Catching listeners completely off guard, Southern rock hooks blend hip-shaking grooves with bluesy-rock rhythms, topped with layered vocal harmonies that sample a new kind of AOR for H.E.A.T.
The first class guitar solos on the record’s only rock ballad slow things right down, as axes unite for a ballsy and ambitious assay of “Falling Down” from talented guitar slingers Dave Dalone and Eric Rivers. Perhaps the hardest thing for the band regarding this album was choosing a single to precede with, as several are worthy of this prolific status. But its soon clear as to why H.E.A.T made it all the way to the final of Melodifestivalen (the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest) in 2009, and immediately went Gold the following year with predecessor “Beg, Beg, Beg”, as this time round they rightfully score a hit with radio-friendly “Living On The Run” — a big ’80s canto using a wide vocal range and plenty of party-rock rhythm. “Downtown”, the album’s finale, strongly echoes Gronwall‘s euphoric “18 And Life” Swedish Idol audition and leaves you wondering whether you’re still listening to the same band.
Address The Nation‘s refreshing input confirms just how far H.E.A.T have come and how far they will go with the aid of new frontman Gronwall (arguably the ‘Voice’ of Sweden), who could quite well be the second lucky Ace in the hole for these fine, Swedish whippersnappers.
Reviewed by Gemma-Louise Johnson for Sleaze Roxx, April 2012
Sometimes you overlook a band that has been on the scene for some time, have already released some acclaimed CDs, and you wonder why? H.E.A.T, part of the Scandinavian new wave of hard rock at its finest, for me, is one of those bands. What stands out about H.E.A.T is that they have a really (I mean REALLY) big AOR sound.
Their new CD Address The Nation finds the band replacing frontman/founder Kenny Leckremo with Swedish Idol (yup) boy wonder Erik Gronwall. I have heard the band’s efforts prior to this change, and I think the new vocalist really delivers — sure, he is in no way Leckremo, but at the same time he does not try to copy his predecessor. Gronwall hits all the notes and his delivery seems flawless.
The sound of Address The Nation is ok — I mean it is really good, but it strikes me a bit as over-polished… way over-polished. All the songs are so well produced that they seem to be lacking any sort of an edge. There isn’t a lot of rawness here, instead you get loads of keyboards and really well done smooth sounds — but the album is definitely over-produced, and all the tunes are AOR oriented slow to mid-tempo rockers. Some, like “It’s All About Tonight”, have a bit more edge to them but the vast majority of this CD is pure AOR with huge production and tons of polish.
All in all Address The Nation will satisfy those that are looking for a good AOR album — but rock aficionados who crave raw, hard, and rusty rock will find this release to be over-polished and over-produced. Did I mention the terms over-polished and over-produced a few too many times? Trust me, there is a reason for that!
Reviewed by Fat Peter for Sleaze Roxx, March 2012