H.E.A.T. – Freedom Rock

heat freedom rockWhen H.E.A.T. released their self titled debut album a few years back, in 2008, they created quite a stir in the AOR circuit and were hailed as the great new hope for the genre. But personally I never got the hype even though they had some pretty good songs. To me, the album lacked memorable songs and even though it was pretty clear the guys were all faultless musicians, I just couldn’t join in on the big praise that followed the album’s release. They have since participated in the Swedish part of the Eurovision Song Contest with ”1000 Miles”, a great song that made them a household name in their native Sweden. All of a sudden they had a pressure on them to follow up their debut, since it got re-released with ”1000 Miles” on it. The word got out that the new record, called Freedom Rock, would be a somewhat heavier sounding effort but still very much in the AOR vein and that appealed to me. But what is more important than any heaviness in the world is that the guys has written a bunch of really strong songs this time. But the fact that I never really got into the debut made it easier to listen to this album without any expectations at all. That said, I didn’t find the debut bad at all, quite the contrary, I found it full of potential for the future – a debut album from a band on their way up.

While first single ”Beg Beg Beg” didn’t exactly set the world on fire and felt a bit weak at first, it did grow on me and turned out to be a really catchy pop-rocker with big hit potential. The song was given away for free to all subscribers of Sweden Rock Magazine and when gotten used to, it actually built some expectations for the coming of the second album. Opener ”We’re Gonna Make It Til The End” is a brilliant AOR track in the vein of Strangeways that sets a standard for the album. Already by the first track I feel that H.E.A.T. has something big on their hands. At least bigger than the debut. ”Black Night” is a very good track that sounds a bit like Deep Purple goes AOR, if you can imagine that and in “I Can’t Look The Other Way” they give us a big rocker with a killer hook. In ”Shelter” they have a killer ballad that should give them some airplay if released as a single. “Danger Road” sounds like a heavier Toto with a more classic rock vibe. The melodies are really strong and I think this one will be a future live killer. “Stay” sounds more like a though out radio hit with all the melodies laid out exactly the way an 80’s radio hit should sound. It’s a good song, but it is a bit predictable. They go all Toto on us in ”Everybody Wants To Be Someone” and not like in heavily influenced, no this track is on the border to a clone. It’s a good song, though. “Nobody Loves You (Like I Do)” is a smash in my world. The chorus is heavily contagious and is must be single. “I Know What It Takes” is an ok AOR rocker, but it really goes nowhere and the same can be said of “Cast Away” – a good song, but really nothing special. On “High On Love”, H.E.A.T. gives us a hard rocker, in the vein of a more pop ZZ Top. It’s a mold breaker and pivotal for the album’s sound, the way I see it. An AOR album needs a song like that. Closing track “Who Will Stop The Rain” is one the record’s finest moments, a pop-rocker with a big chorus that stays in your mind forever.

As a whole, this album is a step forward from the debut. The sound on the CD is far heavier and more rock ‘n’ roll than on its Toto-sounding predecessor which suits the band real well. But not only that, the songs are more catchy and instinct and many of them stick by the first spin, whereas on the debut, I still have a hard time remembering many of the tracks. This is a very good album that contains a bunch great musicians, guitarists Eric Rivers and Dave Dalone aare great and drummer Crash is a real hard hitter and a great singer in Kenny Leckremo, but somehow it doesn’t go all the way. There are some songs too many that doesn’t hold up and the whole experience – when it’s over – don’t make me feel like a must to play this album over and over again. But they’re on their way up and if their cards are played right, there might be a great future for H.E.A.T. Turn the guitars up and cut some of the cheese out and they might have something really cool next time around.



1 We’re Gonna Make It
2 Black Night
3 I Can’t Look The Other Way
4 Shelter
5 Beg Beg Beg
6 Danger Road
7 Stay
8 Everybody Wants To Be Someone
9 Nobody Loves You Like I Do
10 I Know What It Takes
11 Cast Away
12 High On Love
13 Who Will Stop The Rain

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