If anyone out there is looking for a genre defining definition of AOR or Melodic Rock then look no further than Swedish band H.E.A.T’s self-titled debut album (Stormvox Records,2008). Continuing its journey (excuse the pun) around Europe (whoops, there’s another) Eurorock has found that a welcome time warp exists in a Swedish suburb near Stockholm. So step back if you will to a time of big hair and bands renowned for stadium rock. This is H.E.A.T. a six-strong amalgamation of two local bands linked by the fact that lead singer Kenny Leckremo sang for them both and that they also shared a collective love of melodic rock.
History can and often will repeat itself and when the newly formed H.E.A.T. won the Musik Direkt battle of the bands competition they found themselves treading into the footsteps of none other than Europe who had won it back in 1982. Fresh from appearing at the Sweden Festival of Rock this year alongside such major acts as Judas Priest, Whitesnake and Def Leppard, H.E.A.T. are busy carving out a growing reputation which they are looking to take outside of Scandinavia and beyond. The USA is the obvious place to go and there is little doubt that this band has everything in place to establish themselves there and get plenty of airplay as a result.
With Kenny Leckremo’s highly impressive vocals H.E.A.T. also boast Dave Dalone and Eric Rivers on guitars and Jimmy Jay on bass. The swirling keyboards of Jona Tee add an extra texture to the set up and drummer Crash moves everything along with quality precision. This is a band brought up on the films and music of the '80s and openly admits inspiration from the soundtracks to such films as Rocky and Beverly Hills Cop. There are shades of an early Bon Jovi in the mix but with all that said this is not just a rehash of times long ago.
This sound is fresh and invigorating with H.E.A.T. playing with a confidence only achievable through sheer talent and belief in the music. To top it all the album comes with a superbly designed booklet for which the clearly multi-talented Eric Rivers is largely responsible.
Its infectious vibe is delivered with a sense of purpose whilst paying all due respect for what has gone before and the music that has undoubtedly inspired this album. The hooks are there in their song writing, the riffs work well and the vocals are superbly executed in amongst an overall sound quality that is spot on. This is the music of palm trees on Miami Beach, open top sports cars with AOR blasting out from their radios, sun-drenched days and open roads. This is feel-good music of the best and most effective kind and it emanates from that Scandinavian hot bed of rock Sweden.
The album opens with a nice touch “Intro,” a sound-bite of an airline flight deck ending with the pilot saying "ready for take-off;" that is exactly what the band does as “There For You” takes you on a trip to the best melodic rock you will hear in a long time. There has been a thought for a while that the market in Europe was looking for a switch in direction from sleaze metal and H.E.A.T. provides exactly that. This is not a band doing something just for effect or even, dare I say, sales. This is a band doing something they love and that radiates from every note on this album. "There For You" is good enough to take over from some of the older, played to death, records from their seemingly ever present slot on American radio.
Album highlights include a beautifully paced "Cry," a potential hit with "Follow Me," a superbly written "Feel It Again" and a modern-day classic with the powerful "Keep On Dreaming." For a first album the confidence is all there and yet never results in the band taking their finger off the pulse of what they are trying to produce. This is stadium rock just waiting for a stadium.
If you live in Sweden you can see them by following this link. http://www.heatsweden.com/shows.htm
If you live in the States your time will no doubt come. All H.E.A.T. needs is to travel across the water with this album and sign up to a tour. No doubt that will take place by a pool under the sun. This is just where H.E.A.T. the album takes you – so roll down your car top, turn the radio up and listen to some '80s-style melodic rock for 2008 – fresh out of Sweden.