Released on July 31, 2020 (AFM Records)
Thundermother‘s fourth studio album Heat Wave was easily one of the most anticipated albums of the year for me. My expectations were very high and especially after hearing the first easy to sing along to single “Driving In Style.” The Swedish female rockers had seemingly improved with every record from their AC/DC sounding debut album Rock ‘N’ Roll Disaster (2014) to their faster paced sophomore effort Road Fever (2015) to their excellent third album Thundermother (2018), which happened to finish at #6 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2018. For whatever reason, Thundermother do not seem to have caught on that much with Sleaze Roxx readers as none of their albums have ever figured in the Sleaze Roxx readers’ top 20 albums of the year but this will surely change with the band’s latest offering Heat Wave.
Quite simply, I feel that I am listening to the rock n’ roll album of the year when listening to Heat Wave. It’s got everything that I look for in a record from catchy sing along choruses, some diversity in the songs from the faster paced “Into The Mud” to the bluesy “Purple Sky”; some killer guitar riffs; memorable but not overplayed guitar solos; a solid rhythm section; and, one hell of a lead vocalist who can seemingly sing anything. When raspy voiced singer Clare Cunningham, who had handled the lead vocals on Thundermother‘s first two albums, left the band back in early 2017, I thought that it would be a tall order to find a female replacement for her but guitarist Filippa Nässil hit the jackpot when she recruited lead vocalist Guernica Mancini. No offence to Cunningham (whose voice I really like) but Mancini is just at another level, which has really helped Thundermother get to that next rung as well with their third, and now fourth album. As previously stated, Mancini can seemingly sing anything. Powerful singing — you got it (check out just about every song on the album). Bluesy singing — you got it (check out “Purple Sky”). The ability to go from soft to loud in a milli-second — you got it. Story telling like vocals — you got it (check out “Mexico”). Quite frankly, Mancini is my new favorite female singer.
In my interview with Mancini two months ago, she mentioned that the songwriting this time out was a real group effort rather than on Thundermother where Nässil handled 90% of the songwriting due to having written most of the material prior to the change in her bandmates. What Mancini didn’t mention is that the band enlisted Danish Soren Andersen as the producer and as I checked out the CD booklet, I noticed that the man has co-writing credits on many of the tracks on the album. The songs on Heat Wave feel more cohesive this time around than on Thundermother and that’s even though the band covers a lot of ground musically on the record without going into dreaded experimentation territory. “Dog From Hell” is probably the most AC/DC sounding track on Heat Wave. “Into The Mud” is fast paced from start to finish and even boasts a bass solo from Thundermother‘s newest member Majsan Lindberg before Nässil launches into her guitar solo. The cool part about the bass solo is that you can still really hear Lindberg‘s bass playing when the guitar solo kicks in, which reminds me a lot of Diemonds‘ similar tour de force on their track “Mystery” from their album The Bad Pack (2011). “Driving In Style” will most likely be a Thundermother live staple for many years to come. What a great uplifting song!
Funny enough and not surprisingly if you’ve read my past reviews, the one track that I am not that fond of is the ballad and second single “Sleep.” I recognize it’s a well crafted song and although it’s not to the point that I am thinking of skipping it when listening to it, it just doesn’t resonate that much with me. That of course is not fatal to Thundermother‘s Heat Wave in the least as I still don’t like The Lazys‘ ballad “Young Modern Lightning” from their sensational album Tropical Hazards, which finished at #1 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2018 and #2 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top 12 Albums of The Decade (2010-2019) despite that song. My mention of the album Tropical Hazards is not a coincidence as when I heard that record in late April 2018, I pretty much knew that I was listening to the best album of the year and that’s the feeling that I get with Thundermother‘s Heat Wave.
Overall, Thundermother have delivered a very good rock n’ roll record that should appeal to a wide range of people. Perhaps the biggest compliment that I can give Thundermother is that on their debut album, they sounded a lot like AC/DC; on their sophomore album, they sometimes sounded like Mötorhead; but on their last two albums and especially this one, they sound like… well, Thundermother, and that is a great thing!
01. Loud And Alive
02. Dog From Hell
03. Back in ’76
04. Into The Mud
05. Heat Wave
07. Driving In Style
08. Free Ourselves
10. Purple Sky
12. Somebody Love Me
13. Bad Habits
Guernica Mancini – vocals
Filippa Nässil – guitar
Emlee Johansson – drums, string arrangement (6)
Majsan Lindberg – bass
Maria Jern – violin (6)
Liv Odeberg – viola (6)
Ellen Wilhemsson – cello (6)
Jacob Binzer – guitar solo (13)
Jay Boe – hammond (10)
Dregen – background vocals (4, 11, 13)
Johannes Braun – background vocals (2)
Jim Müller – background vocals (2)
Produced by Soren Andersen
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, August 2020
Thundermother‘s “Driving In Style” video:
Thundermother‘s “Dog From Hell” video:
Thundermother‘s “Sleep” video: