Fact: Heart was at the top of their game in the 80’s. They had huge hits with songs like “These Dreams”, “What About Love” and “Alone” and albums like Heart (1985), Bad Animals (1987) and Brigade (1990) shipped millions and millions of copies. They were very MTV friendly with the big hair, big songs and big sound (well, it should have been big if they hadn’t hired the useless Ron “I ruin everything I touch” Nevison as a producer) and colourful clothing. They were also big in the 70’s with stuff like “Barracuda”, but not as big. They broke up shortly after the release of the oh so underrated album Desire Walks On (1993), that failed to match their earlier albums’ success due to the grunge movement, despite the fact that fellow Seattle artists such as Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, now superstars, had praised their music repeatedly. The ever so cool and talented Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy, proceeded with other things such as The Lovemongers that few people cared about.
While the bands 80’s albums contained mostly songs written by outside writers, the sisters decided that they should write all their stuff themselves when they reunited the band with a whole new line up in 2004 and recorded the ill fated come back album Jupiter’s Darling. The fact that said album’s sales weren’t up to past glories could be blamed on two things; illegal downloading, but mostly that the album just wasn’t as strong as what we were used to. Not bad by any means, but Heart had completely thrown their earlier AOR-ish sound in the trash bin and concentrated on a more 70’s sound with lots of Zeppelin influences and they even refused to play their old hits live. Which probably was confusing to all the fans who discovered them in the 80’s! Its follow up Red Velvet Car wasn’t much fun at all even though it marked a slight return to their more melodic roots and gave them a top 10 album in the States, but even though the album isn’t all bad, it’s very forgettable.
So, when the band returned in 2012 with a new album, my fingers were crossed hoping that it would take us back to their more melodic side even further, but that didn’t happen. Not one bit. More so, this album is more experimental, to the point of schizophrenia and the songs sprawl in different directions. This is not a great album, in fact, it’s not even that good!
But it starts out really well. The title track is very good, it’s hard, heavy, aggressive and almost industrial at times, but still with a catchy melody line, “Good Old America” sounds old, in a good way and heavy the way Zeppelin was heavy, “A Million Miles” is very catchy and a decent track and “Mashallah!” is just bloody great, heavy and hard rocking. But that is where it all ends. They give us a couple of pretentious and dull ballads in “Pennsylvania” and “Rock Deep (Vancouver)” and “59 Crunch” is a poor attempt at trying on heavy metal that doesn’t work at all. There are also a some bonus tracks for the deluxe edition but these songs doesn’t help much. They try to do some kind of The Doors fuzz on the crappy “Two Silver Rings” and “Zinjara” is some weird acoustic track.
I’m sorry, but four good tracks isn’t even close to making this album any good and I’m longing for Heart’s 80’s once again. Also, both production and arrangements are a mess which makes the album not so pleasant when you listen to it on headphones. Ann Wilson is still a brilliant singer, nothing can take that away from her, but after three albums with the sisters as main composers it stands clear that they’re just not any good at writing songs. I really hope they realise that themselves soon, because I’m starting to lose hope now and frankly I would be very surprised if there is anyone out there who truly thinks that this album is a great piece of work. It’s time to reunite the 80’s line up and bring in some songwriters that can actually write good songs. But there is absolutely no need for them to bring Ron Nevison back on…
Jon Wilmenius (3/10)
2. Dear Old America
3. Walkin’ Good (With Sarah McLachlan)
4. Skins & Bones
5. A Million Miles
8. Rock Deep (Vancouver)
9. 59 Crunch
10. Corduroy Road
11. Beautiful Broken
12. Two Silver Rings