H.E.A.T. — Force Majeure
The epicenter of hard rock has moved east. What started in the clubs of Hollywood has now settled in Sweden where the likes of Eclipse, H.E.A.T. and Crashdiet are releasing quality records. But like those before them, these bands have their own internal issues.
H.E.A.T. was coming off one of their biggest records when their lead singer, Erik Gronwall, left the band to front Skid Row. Gronwall had brought some notoriety to the band when he performed in the nationally televised musical Jesus Christ Superstar with Alice Cooper among others. So the band pulled a classic band move and brought back their original singer, Kenny Leckremo who Gronwall replaced in 2010.
The result is “Force Majeure”, the band’s first record with Leckremo since 2010’s “Freedom Rock”.
The album begins with “Back To The Rhythm”. A modern guitar riff starts the track but then we are transported to the 80s. Leckremo sounds a lot like another Swedish frontman, Joey Tempest from Europe. Once I figured out who he sounded like I couldn’t get Europe out of my head. The prominent keyboard only emphasizes the comparison. It’s a good first track but not exactly what I expected.
“Nationwide” begins with another heavy riff that continues into the verse. It’s a solid straight ahead rock track with some quality guitar work in the solo.
The riffing continues with “Tainted Blood” as we get another rocker. The gang vocals in the track bring another element that reminds me of the 80s. Another good track.
“Hollywood” is up next and now we are fully back in 1988. The band must have decided that they wanted to embrace the 80s with this record given this band from Sweden is writing songs about being in Hollywood. It’s a really good track so whatever works.
“Harder to Breathe” fits right in with the late 80s feel of the record. If I didn’t know this record just came out I would have insisted this was released in the late 80s. I like this track as well.
The 80s theme continues with “Not For Sale”. The album has hit a groove with a third quality track in a row. It’s taken a few listens but I’m getting over the Europe comparisons and enjoying the songs more.
The first ballad, “One of Us”, doesn’t do anything to pull us out of the 80s. It has power ballad written all over it from the piano intro to the build up in the chorus. It’s a decent ballad.
Just when I thought I put the Europe comparisons behind me I hear “Hold Your Fire”. I like Europe so it’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t help the band have their own sound.
“Paramount” has a Queen-type feel to it at the start which is a nice change. The verses are closer to the rest of the record but the chorus has that almost cheesy yet likable Queen sound to it. It sounds like something you’ve heard before but can’t place it.
“Demon Eyes” starts as you would expect with that title. It’s an aggressive rocker that has a Ritchie Blackmore-type riff running through it. It sounds it could have been off an early 80s Rainbow record with Joe Lynn Turner. I would have liked to hear this one earlier in the record to break up the similar sounding songs.
The album ends with “Wings of an Aeroplane” which is closer to what I was expecting with this record. It’s much closer to the sound of the last record which has an 80s influence but a little more modern. A quality finish to the record.
This is a tough record for me to rate. In some ways it sounds very familiar and if it came out in 1988 I would have really embraced it. But in some ways much of the record sounds dated and too much like Europe.
The album has two really good stretches, one in the middle of the record and then the two songs at the end. And there isn’t a bad song on the record. I’m just not sure there is enough here that stands out for me to go back to it.
So I’m going to rate this conservatively with the option to give a few more listens and see if it grows on me.
If you are looking for something to transport you back to 1988 you should check this record out.
85 out of 100
1. Back To The Rhythm
3. Tainted Blood
4. Hollywood *
5. Harder To Breathe *
6. Not For Sale *
7. One Of Us
8. Hold Your Fire
10. Demon Eyes *
11. Wings Of An Aeroplane *