HEARTWIND – Higher And Higher

Sometimes it feels like we’re showered with new AOR and Melodic Rock bands / projects – at times it feels like there are too many of them. Not even back in the hey-day of this kind of music did we get so many new records by both old bands and newly started ones. And still we get to hear that this music is of no interest to anyone and that people just don’t buy albums any more. So why does new bands pop up all the time? And why do all those bands still put out physical CDs and vinyls if people don’t buy them? To be honest, even someone like me that really digs this kind of Rock music think that we’re on the verge of an AOR / Melodic Rock overkill here and sometimes when another record shows up in my mailbox it feels like I don’t really want to bother with them. But I do bother with them because even though there are bands that just falls of my map, there are also bands that totally kicks out the jam and tells me that there is still a lot of talent out there. And I just love an album by a new band that rocks my world.

This band / project was started by guitarist Göran Engvall (Hitworks) and keyboard player Mikael Rosengren (Constancia) who decided over dinner to form a band. When the duo one year later had written some fifteen songs, the search for band members began. They brought in drummer Peter Svensson from Constancia, they found singer Germán Pascual (Narnia) who in his turn brought in his buddies, guitar virtuoso Martin Hall who played in his solo band and current The Poodles bass player Germain Leth and went to work. As a producer the guys hired one Fredrik Folkare, who had previously worked with such different acts like Unleashed, Firespawn, Eclipse and Adrenaline Rush. He also contributed with additional guitars and bass. The band mention bands such as Journey, Whitesnake and Def Leppard as influences which tells us in what kind of genre Heartwind are operating in.

The opening title track – also the first single / video – is as much AOR as it can possibly get. It’s very pink n’ fluffy, full of keyboards and a melody stickier than glue. It sounds like 1989 is knocking at our door and wants to come back – fact is, I think if this tune had been released back then, Heartwind would have had a huge hit on their hands. See, the refrain is just contagious and it should appeal to every one who’s into this kind of music. Me, I think it’s great. “Cry Out Into Space” is more riff-happy, Hard Rock laden and punching heavy, all within the realms of AOR, of course. It’s a very catchy tune – both verse and chorus – but not cheesy and it’s very, very good. “Ready For The Moonlight” is an uptempo Melodic Rock tune with a chunk of AOR and a huge chorus that is catchy as hell. Another killer and surely a single-contender for the future. Great.

“One Night Away From You” is a soft, smooth and silky ballad with a big 80’s sound. It’s a good tune albeit a bit sugary but with a refrain that stays in my head after first listen. This one has Nina Söderqvist (a Swedish singer that usually provides backing-vocals for just about every big Swedish artist there is) guesting on lead vocals – and the girl really sports one helluva set of pipes. “Surrounding Me” is an uptempo rocker in the AOR vein that’s got a least one foot in the mid 80’s – probably both. It’s a very poppy tune but it feels very alive and the kind of tune you’d love to play loud in your car on a hot summer day – very, very catchy. “Through The Light” is on the more pompous side of AOR but with a clear Hard Rock vibe. We get big keyboards, fat guitars and a very memorable main melody – and a refrain so catchy it’s almost ridiculous – how bloody awesome!

“Too Late For Roses”, featuring Tåve Wanning (Adrenaline Rush) on lead vocals, is an uptempo Melodic Rock song that holds a huge, sticky chorus that will leave you humming it for hours after the album have stopped playing. It both comes with an enormous hit-feel and live-feel. This one would be perfect in a live environment. “Creatures Of The Night” (it’s actually impossible not to think of Kiss when you see this title) is a fine mix of Hard Rock, Melodic Rock and AOR and this upbeat rocker feels more like an album track than written for the radio. It’s a good song but it doesn’t stick as hard as the rest. “Don’t Be That Girl” is a Pop song in a Rock disguise – or is it the other way around? Well, the Pop and Rock marries just fine, the tune is pretty riffy and the catchy melodies brings the tune home – very good.

We’re given another power ballad in “Your Eyes Cannot Lie” and it sounds like the band have gotten their hands on an unreleased Desmond Child / Diane Warren tune from 1988 or something. This is the kind of tune that would have topped the charts back then and man, I’m such a sucker for this type of song. If well written and produced, I totally love this stuff and this song is just that. Closing track “Game Of Love” is an uptempo melodic hard rocker with a big, sticky AOR refrain that’s impossible to get out of the head once it’s there. It’s a pretty straight-forward tune with a punch and it’s full of hooks. A great song and a perfect closer for an album like this.

To be quite frank, there’s nothing new under the sun here – their already mentioned influences aren’t a surprise and I’d like to add 80’s Europe and Bad Habit to that list. This is standard AOR and Melodic Rock with a quite typical Swedish/Scandinavian sound, very clean-cut, smooth, fluffy with a big production. Lots of keyboards. So, this is nothing for pure metal heads. But. I couldn’t care less because as long as it sounds good and the songs are well-written, I’m a happy camper. And that’s exactly what we’re being provided with here. This is a stellar debut record, full of catchy tunes with all the hooks in the world that will appeal to every lover of AOR and Melodic Rock out there. Not to be missed!

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Higher And Higher
2. Cry Out Into Space
3. Ready For The Moonlight
4. One Night Away From You
5. Surrounding Me
6. Through The Light
7. Too Late For Roses
8. Creatures Of The Night
9. Don’t Be That Girl
10. Your Eyes Cannot Lie
11. Game Of Love

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