Thursday, February 20, 2014

H.E.A.T. "A Shot At Redemption" EP

(c) 2014 

  1. Shot At Redemption
  2. Under Your Skin (previously unreleased)
  3. In And Out Of Trouble (acoustic version)
  4. She's Like The Wind
Erik Gronwall--Vocals
Eric Rivers--Guitars
Jimmy Jay--Bass
Jona Tee--Keyboards

H.E.A.T. are one of those bands that you either love or hate, it seems.  The melodic rockers love the band's take on hard rock, while the sleaze fans/hair metal fans generally seem to have some issues with how...well...melodic the band is with their music.  And, truth be told, H.E.A.T. is one of those bands that stomps all over the semi-visible line between AOR/melodic music and flat out hard rock music.  Being a person who likes both sub-genres to varying degrees, I have never had any major issues with H.E.A.T., but they have never been at the top of my favorites list, either.  Will this new EP change my mind?  


This EP is a teaser of the band's new album that is set for an April, 2014 release.  As such, we are treated to a new song from the album. a previously unreleased track, an acoustic version of an older tune, and a cover song.  Nice mix there.  "Shot At Redemption" is definitely the only real rocker here, and it is a solid one.  The guitar work is especially strong, and if the full album contains another three or four in this vein, it will possibly be the best album of H.E.A.T.'s career thus far.  Gronwall's vocals are smooth throughout the EP as he effortlessly allows his upper-range tenor slide over the top of the guitars and rhythm section.  However, sometimes, both on this effort and in the past, I feel that Gronwall can sing so effortlessly that the vocals lack any real punch or any raw emotion.  Perhaps just a hint of snarl, just a smidgen of sneer, would help to take some of the sweetness out of his vocals and add a bit more attitude to a standout rocker like the title track here.  "Under Your Skin" is another uptempo track, although this one falls much more into H.E.A.T.'s typical melodic style than the harder rocking "Shot...".  Longtime fans of the band are going to be able to appreciate this track, and I suspect the acoustic version of "In And Out Of Trouble", will delight fans as well.

The kicker here is going to be the cover of Patrick Swayze's "She's Like The Wind" from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  Yes, it's THAT "She's Like The Wind".  I'm not going to lie; I kinda dig Swayze's vocals on that classic AOR track, and, as such, Gronwall's much higher vocal range was a bit off-putting the first couple of times through the song.  I have grown to like H.E.A.T.'s version, however, and I think it is every bit as good musically, and has superior, more modern production.  Vocally...well, I still prefer Swayze's original vocals, but these aren't bad.  Folks are gonna like that the band tried to tackle something rather out of the ordinary, or they are gonna scream bloody murder about the song choice.  I think it's a gutsy call and it is handled relatively well, so kudos for the effort.

All in all, a nice little sampler/teaser package that will whet the appetites of H.E.A.T. fans and leave them chomping at the bit for April to hurry up and get here.  These Swedes know what their fans like and they haven't strayed too far from the tried and true, but they also don't come off as a bored and disinterested band simply going through the motions, either.  If you can find it cheap, grab it, but I think the imports of this EP may be a bit pricey for some, especially with just 4 tracks.

Rating:  Nobody puts Baby in a corner...or H.E.A.T. for that matter!  Crank this to 7.

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