Tag Archives: H.E.A.T

My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 4

Another day, another batch of great material that should be destined to arrive in 2017 to bathe our ear in. On the strength of all this, I don’t think there’s any danger of the recent momentum in the metal world slowing down. And isn’t that great? It gives us all something to look forward to and keeps me out of mischief by being busy with this blog.

If you’ve missed any of my previous parts of this series, they can be accessed below:

My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 1
My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 2
My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 3

Odd Logic – Effigy
Release date: January 2017

15380312_1287400561319533_1589720295079823334_nNow this is a massive bonus for me, as I have just discovered that there will be a new Odd Logic album coming later this month. I am surprised because ‘A Penny For Your Thoughts’ was only released last year. Mind you, I’m not complaining because this record justifiably made it into my end of year Top 30 list, following a hugely favourable review earlier in the year. Not only that, but one of the songs off this record made it into my list of favourite songs of the year as well.

Not bad for a band that remains unsigned. Quite why, I don’t know because Odd Logic deliver a very high quality brand of progressive metal; detailed, multi-faceted and highly entertaining, combining strong melodies with plenty of technicality along the way.

Cynthesis – TBC
Release date: TBC

Another band that features regularly in these posts is Cynthesis. Or rather, anything at all that features the insanely talented Tipton brother. These guys can make string instruments sing and dance wonderfully.

We’ve already seen two albums under the Cynthesis moniker and when I spoke with Jasun Tipton over 18 months ago now, he confirmed that the third Cynthesis album was written, thus completing a dystopian trilogy in the process. Cynthesis is the most atmospheric, melodic and sensitive of all of the bands that feature the Jasun and Troy Tipton and I absolutely adore the atmosphere and the lashings of gorgeous melodies that are a feature of both ‘DeEvolution’ and ‘ReEvolution’ respectively. Given the preposterously brilliant technical prowess of the musicians involved, I expect nothing short of a sonic treat when finally the third Cynthesis instalment sees the light of day.

Ayreon – TBC
Release date: TBC

I have been a fan of Arjen Lucassen for many years, under just about all of his different guises. However, I have to say that his Ayreon project is my absolute favourite,thanks to a combination of generally heavier prog rock/metal, darker atmospheres and the all-star casts that is put together each and every time to bring the concept stories to life.

This new record is no different as the likes of Simone Simons (Epica), Russell Allen (Symphony X), James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Tommy Rogers (Between The Buried And Me), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) and Floor Jansen (Nightwish) all come together to bring their vocal talents to bear. The snippets I’ve heard sound great so far, so I can’t wait for this record to be released.

Release date: TBC

According to a press release issued at the tail end of 2016, Swedish hard rockers H.E.A.T will be recording a new album in Thailand in March 2017, which means we might be able to welcome the finished article before the end of the year. I certainly hope so given that this band are probably my current favourite melodic hard rock band. Their ability to pen high quality and extremely catchy, infectious music seems to know no bounds and I frequently return to their albums when I feel like I need a lift and to feel good about life. Watch this space…

Into Eternity – TBC
Release date: TBC

Now I know for sure that melodic thrash/death/prog metallers Into Eternity are still going – their Facebook page is at least active and there are things going on in the world of these crazy Canadians. However, I cannot discern for sure whether or not we will see a new album in 2017. It has now been some considerable time since their last studio release but this can be forgiven bearing in mind the trials and tribulations that have beset the band in recent years.

But now is the time to unleash some new material on the world and show us all how strong the band can be.

Album of the Year 2014 – Number 4

Today, I offer you my choice of album for the number 4 spot in my Album of the Year 2014 countdown.

As always, links to the other posts in my series can be found at the bottom of this article, so please check them out if you’ve yet to read them – I’m always interested in hearing people’s opinions, so if you think I’ve got it right or wrong, tell me.

And with that, let me reveal my choice at Number 4…

Tearing down the wallsH.E.A.T.
‘Tearing Down The Walls’

Some people may be surprised to see a melodic hard rock album feature so high in my Album of the Year 2014 countdown. It is the Blog Of Much Metal after all. However, I have a real soft spot for this slightly more ear-friendly saccharine genre of music. I refer to it as summer music, the kind of fare that you listen to on warm, sunny days and sing along to with real gusto. Put more succinctly, it’s ‘feel good’ music. When done well, it can be fantastic and where H.E.A.T are concerned, it is done very well indeed.

Photo by: Gustaf Sandholm Andersson

Photo by: Gustaf Sandholm Andersson

I reviewed ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ around its release and I still stand by what I wrote, several months later. The full track by track review can be read here, but the following is a direct quote:

‘One of the hardest things for any band to do, regardless of the longevity of their career or their popularity is to follow up a great album. In the case of Swedish melodic hard rockers H.E.A.T, that great album in my opinion was 2012’s ‘Address The Nation’. It remains a regular on my playlist and, if I was forced to choose, I’d say it was in my top 3 of melodic hard rock albums. So it is the highest accolade that I can bestow on it’s follow-up and the band’s fourth full-length release, to say that ‘Tearing Down The Walls’, matches it and maybe even beats it.

Naturally, I had high hopes for ‘Tearing Down The Walls’, but then it seems that anyone who knows anything about H.E.A.T also had high hopes. Moreover, there was a certain expectation amongst many that this album would, or should, be very good indeed. The great news is that it is very good indeed and has been glued to my stereo for several days now, with no sign of being ejected. Suffice to say that Messrs Grönwall (vocals), Tee (keyboards), Rivers (guitars), Jay (bass) and Crash (drums) should be very proud of their efforts on this album.’

Never mind a few days, the fact is that ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ has remained glued to my stereo for the remainder of the year. I may wander off to listen to other things as is natural, but even after several months, I gravitate back to the record very regularly and the enjoyment levels never diminish.

In fact, if anything, the record gets better with time. There’s a surprising amount of subtlety to a lot of the music and what appears on the surface to be a collection of no-nonsense hard rock anthems, is actually a lot more complex and clever than that. Of course, if you just want to rock out or get an instant hit of great music, then ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ will deliver and does deliver in spades. But there’s more to the album than that and it’s credit to the band for being able to blend the two facets so seamlessly. Personally, I think it has a lot to do with the brilliant songwriting skills of H.E.A.T – they make it all seem so effortless.

Having said all that, the overall effect of this album on me is rather straightforward; I simply get swept up in it. The heady mix of powerful driving rock, hook-laden choruses, abundant attitude and subtle sophistication of ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is utterly infectious and completely impossible to ignore.

Check out the other posts in this series:

Album of the Year 2014 – Number 5
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 6
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 7
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 8
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 9
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 13
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 20

And if you’re interested, my similar countdowns from previous years can be accessed here:

Top 20 of 2012
Album of the Year 2013

Two Years of the Blog Of Much Metal


It has now been two years since I began this heavy metal blog following intense pressure from some circles. What started as an exercise in quieting the mob has blossomed into a labour of love and something I am very passionate about. Over the two years, I have been able to write material based on music that is very personal to me and it has also allowed me to support subjects, bands and events that I believe are worth shouting about.

Writing for Powerplay magazine is great, but I’m constricted to writing what the Editor requires of me. With this blog, there are no such constraints. No word limits, no subject is off-limits and no deadlines loom over my head. However, it also means that with a small family and a full-time job to pay the bills, I’m not as prolific as I would like to be. Sure, I could regurgitate news from the Internet here or I could post links to other sites. But I think it is more important for me to write posts that are 100% unique and exclusive to this site. As such, if you want to read my rambling posts, you have to come to the Blog Of Much Metal. Simple as that.

I must be doing something right, too. The viewing figures are not going to worry the more established on-line presences but I’m proud of the fact that I have had over 62,000 hits from readers across 125 countries. It means that my 128 posts to date average over 480 views each. It’s not bad, but I want to do better and that’s part of my motivation to continue – to engage with more and more people and to therefore better support the bands in the world of rock and heavy metal that need that support.

In due course, I hope to redesign the blog and make it ever-more inviting. However, for the time being and until time allows, I thought I would offer a round-up of my posts over the past couple of years. An easy, one-stop-shop where the majority of my articles can be accessed should you be new to my blog or an existing visitor that may have missed an article or two here and there.

The Man Of Much Metal

I began the blog with a few articles to give readers an insight into me, personally. How I got into the world of heavy metal in the beginning and the journey that I took to get to where I am today. Following on from a brief intro piece, I split my music listening life into three, exploring my early years, the University years and the post-university years. AS far as live music goes, I offer a post about my gig-going experiences, linked to which is an article about my obsession with heavy metal t-shirts, particularly those with tour-dates on the back.

In something of a brave move, I admit to a few skeletons that lurk in my musical cupboard. Plus, I also commit myself to my Top 5 Albums of all-time as well as my favourite gig of all time. I also discuss my obsession with collecting CDs, the excitement I still feel leading up to an anticipated new release and I admit to a few bands that I should like, but don’t really ‘get’. We all have them, and these are mine.

The most personal of all of my posts deals with my late brother. He was the reason I got into writing about music in the first place and six years after his tragic passing at the age of 26, he still remains a big inspiration to me. Click here if you’d be interested in reading more.

On the subject of writing, I have also written a couple of posts on this topic, outlining how I got into amateur journalism in the first place via Powerplay, a ‘behind the scenes’ look at life as a writer, a look at some of the ‘heroes’ that I have met and interviewed over the years and also a discussion over the pro’s and con’s of this hobby.

Social commentary or ranting?

I have also indulged in a few ‘social commentary’-type articles, or perhaps they can be more accurately referred to as ranting posts. Within this section, you may wish to check out my thoughts on the decline of the independent record store, the increase of heavy metal attire within modern fashion trends, dealing with living in the middle of nowhere in terms of live music and my take on that most heavy metal of things, the album intros, outros and instrumental interludes.

If you’re feeling a little feisty, you may wish to check out my thoughts on album reissues, where the same disc is re-hashed time and time again. Or, how about a full-on rant at a rare few within the music industry?

On a lighter note, I have also written about those bands that support the headline act but which have impressed me to the point that I am now a fan of their music. It is quite rare these days, but it still happens. And, to finish this section off, I also comment on the fans of this wonderful genre of music, the ‘heavy metal family’.

Exposing the important stuff that needs exposure

One of the most rewarding parts of my blog has been with regard to giving exposure to bands that I personally love but that, for one reason or another, have not had the success that they deserve. Of course, success can be measured in a number of ways and I’m not suggesting that album sales are the only marker of a band’s popularity. But there are bands that toil away, release great albums full of wonderful music and yet fail to get the same level of recognition as others. If I can, via a blog post, increase the awareness of these artists just a little bit, then the effort is worthwhile.

Top of the pile here are two in-depth, detailed appraisals of two very special bands, namely Evergrey and Haken. If you want to know more about either, hear some of their music and wonder why they are favourites of mine, check them out!

In this section under the banner of my ‘Unknown & Underrated’ series, you can read in-depth overviews of some important bands to me including Omnium Gatherum, Shadow Gallery, Redemption, Wolverine, Darkwater, Subsignal and Agalloch.

In addition, there are some smaller articles looking at other bands, which can be accessed here, but may be expanded upon in the future. Featured bands include: Bal Sagoth, Darkane, Everon and Hecate Enthroned among many others.

Away from the band specific posts, I have also offered my thoughts on the best festivals that the UK has to offer as well as throwing the spotlight on my favourite festival of all, Progpower Europe.

Then there are the posts that I have recently embarked upon, which look at some of the countries that are worthy of much kudos for the quality of music that they manage to produce. Consequently, there’s a focus on Australia as well as a whole series around the Scandinavian countries. This is currently a work in progress, although the overall introduction is complete, as is my in-depth look at the magnificent country of Iceland.

Album reviews

More recently, I have begun to write a few reviews for albums that I am not asked to cover at Powerplay. Again, word limits are not an issue and so I find that I’m able to offer more detailed analyses on the music. A list of published reviews is as follows:

James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Plus, there’s also a live review of a brilliant Haken gig to enjoy too!


Interviews are a relatively recent addition to the blog and, given the current size of this site, have occasionally been hard to come by. Nevertheless, not one to be deterred, I have hunted a few interviews out and have had the pleasure to chat with UK prog rockers Maschine and Jonas Renkse and Bruce Soord about their project, Wisdom Of Crowds.

Most recently however, I have also interviewed Evergrey in what has turned out to be one of the best pieces that I have ever put my name to. I’m very proud of this piece and if there’s only one link you click via this article, I suggest humbly that it’s this one!

The ‘best of’ lists

Over the past two years, I have been very fond of putting together lists. It appeals to my inner geek and also helps to recommend bands, albums and genres of music to people that may be unfamiliar to them.

The biggest and most comprehensive of these lists are my ‘end of year best of’ round-ups. So far, there’s my ‘Top 20 of 2012’ and my ‘Album Of The Year 2013’ top 20, both of which feature one band per post and count down from 20, offering an album review, artwork and sample tracks. Therefore, if you want to know which albums I considered to be the best over the past two years, check them out!

2013 also saw me commenting on a few of the best live albums released during the year.

And, finally, there are those series of posts that round up the best albums that failed to make my Top 20 lists, both from 2012 and 2013.

Putting this post together makes me realise just how much I’ve managed to cram in over the past couple of years. I hope that there’s something within all this that is of interest to you. Please feel free to comment or criticise too and, if you have a topic you’d like covered, shout. I can only say no! Thanks to you all for supporting this venture of mine & here’s to the next two years. Cheers!

Half-Way Through 2014 – The Best So Far – Part 1

It is hardly believable, but here we are, half-way through 2014. Where does the time go? The older I get, the faster it seems to fly by. But enough of all that. The reason you’re here is because you want to discover some of the best rock and metal that the first half of 2014 has brought us. Well don’t say I don’t give the people what they want, because here goes.

Part one of this mini series features three very different bands but are all, in their own way, deserving of a special mid-way mention such is the quality of their recorded output during the first half of 2014.

Vanishing Point – ‘Distant Is The Sun’

VP coverAustralian melodic progressive metal band Vanishing Point are responsible for one of my all-time favourite albums, 2000’s ‘Tangled In Dream’. It is a true ‘desert island disc’, one that never gets old and that i listen to on a very frequent basis. You can read more about that album here if you’re interested.

With that in mind, subsequent releases have never quite lived up to this massive gem. Until now that is. This is not to say that the past few albums are not good, far from it. Brand new album ‘Distant Is The Sun’ though, is the best this quintet have sounded for a decade and a half and has really impressed me. It is a heavier, darker affair with a true metal vibe that permeates through the huge riffs and the overall tempo of the music. Sometimes melodic metal gets criticised for not having enough bite, but that’s not the case here at all.

But neither is there a dilution in the melody on this record. ‘Distant Is The Sun’ features some of the best and most memorable choruses of the band’s career. When all is said and done, this album is arguably Vanishing Point’s most consistent body of work since the turn of the millennium, meaning that in my eyes, they are one of the best melodic prog metal bands out there at the moment.

Alcest – ‘Shelter’

Alcest-ShelterIt wasn’t until the second or maybe even the third full listen that I realised how good this album really is. The reason for this is because the first couple of listens had me reeling slightly and getting to grips with something that I wasn’t altogether expecting. Known and regarded highly for creating a cohesive blend of black metal and shoegaze, French act Alcest, led by the principle creative force of Neige, have all but abandoned elements of extreme metal on ‘Shelter’.

The result however, is a really beautiful album that brings to the fore the more sensitive and introspective elements of the band’s sound that have admittedly been increasingly prominent in recent years.

There are hints of the magnificent Sigur Ros with plenty of post-rock leanings amongst the eight-track album. And, dare I say it, there’s even an occasional echo of Coldplay et al here and there. The difference between Alcest however and those interminably dull pop rock bands that saturate the current popular music scene these days is that Alcest’s music is genuinely emotionally deep and beautiful. The melodies are fantastically poignant and the song writing touches the listener in ways that other bands simply cannot achieve. This is heartfelt and honest music, neither vacuous nor soulless. Give ‘Shelter’ a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

H.E.A.T. – ‘Tearing Down The Walls’

Tearing down the wallsThis choice of album will not come as any kind of a shock to those familiar with my blog. I reviewed it in full prior to its release and some months later, I stand by what I wrote. (read the full review here)

In a nutshell, ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is the very epitome of what I love about melodic hard rock music. It is fun, it is uplifting, it is catchy and it has plenty of cocksure attitude and a very definite, brazen swagger. Crucially though, the self-confidence, some may say arrogance, is not misplaced. Listen to this album once and I guarantee that you’ll find yourself humming along. Listen to it a few more times and it’s likely that just about every song will make a mark and something within each track will lodge itself securely within your brain, refusing to let go. And, to be honest, would you really want them to let go? Probably not. I certainly don’t.

Stand out tracks for me would include ‘Inferno’ and ‘A Shot At Redemption’, although there genuinely is not a weak moment anywhere on the album. It can be hard to write one truly memorable song, but these talented Swedes who go under the moniker of H.E.A.T. should be given the credit they deserve for giving us no less than twelve memorable compositions of the very highest calibre. And that’s why this album features in this round-up; simple.

H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls – Album Review

Tearing down the walls

Artist: H.E.A.T

Album Title: Tearing Down The Walls

Label: earMUSIC

Year of Release: 2014

One of the hardest things for any band to do, regardless of the longevity of their career or their popularity is to follow up a great album. In the case of Swedish melodic hard rockers H.E.A.T, that great album in my opinion was 2012’s ‘Address The Nation’. It remains a regular on my playlist and, if I was forced to choose, I’d say it was in my top 3 of melodic hard rock albums. So it is the highest accolade that I can bestow on it’s follow-up and the band’s fourth full-length release, to say that ‘Tearing Down The Walls’, matches it and maybe even beats it.

Naturally, I had high hopes for ‘Tearing Down The Walls’, but then it seems that anyone who knows anything about H.E.A.T also had high hopes. Moreover, there was a certain expectation amongst many that this album would, or should, be very good indeed. The great news is that it is very good indeed and has been glued to my stereo for several days now, with no sign of being ejected. Suffice to say that Messrs Grönwall (vocals), Tee (keyboards), Rivers (guitars), Jay (bass) and Crash (drums) should be very proud of their efforts on this album.

Photo by: Gustaf Sandholm Andersson

Photo by: Gustaf Sandholm Andersson

Up first on ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is actually my current favourite track on the album. Entitled ‘Point Of No Return’, is begins quietly with a keyboard and acoustic guitar intro for around a minute before exploding into the main body of the track. And when I say, it explodes, I mean it. Pounding drums, and wailing guitars join forces with a driving rhythm to great effect, laying the foundations before a chorus to end all choruses kicks in and blows my mind. The first time I heard this track, I found myself smiling and nodding my head in appreciation almost immediately.

Lead single, ‘A Shot At Redemption’ takes things down a notch and is, for me at least,a bit of a slow burner. It maintains a great mid-tempo stomp throughout but at first, the slightly country-tinged and early Bon Jovi-esque composition didn’t click with me. Give it time though, and the chorus begins to work it’s magic and this is now the track that I find myself singing the most when the album finishes.

‘Inferno’ cranks things up a notch again, with a groove and swagger that is unmistakeably H.E.A.T. It is heavy on the melodic rock cliches, and with lyrics that include ‘I like to drink and masturbate’, it is also heavy on the sleaze. However, thanks with a chorus to die for, a cock-sure attitude a great vocal performance from the former Swedish Idol winner Erik Gronwall, the song somehow manages to become an absolute classic. If this is really how things sounded in the 80s, I want to go back.

‘The Wreckoning’ is that most rare of melodic rock beasts; a minute-long ominous and cinematic instrumental which segues nicely into the title track and first of two ballads of the album. It is a wonderfully-crafted power ballad, the sort of musical saccharine that would normally have me diving for cover but when executed this well, compels me to listen and, dare I say it, throw my head back and sing along, albeit dangerously out of key.

The melody line to ‘Mannequin Show’ is immediately reminiscent of Britney Spears’ ‘Oops…I did it Again’. There’s no hiding from this, but then, there’s no hiding from the fact that in spite of this, it is not a track that feels out of place or of a lesser quality in any shape or form. The keys are more prominent on this piece but once again, a strong rhythm section delivers us to a chorus that can’t help but get under your skin. To be honest, most other bands might have struggled to pull off a track like this, but H.E.A.T somehow succeed.

‘We Will Never Die’ offers another killer chorus, making it another personal favourite, whilst ‘Emergency’ delivers more in the way of solid groove and yet again showcases H.E.A.T’s ability to write properly engaging melodic hard rock that will last longer than just a few cursory listens.

‘All The Nights’ is a beautifully fragile and beguiling piano-and-vocal ballad that really impresses me and in many ways, rather than being a throw-away track, is one of show-stealers of the album’s second half. Not only does it effectively alter the pace of the album, allow listeners a breather from the high-octane rock assault, it is a brilliant vehicle for Grönwall’s powerful and emotive voice.

At this point, nine tracks in, the quintet may have been excused for delivering a couple of average songs to close out the album. Not a chance though, as the remaining three tracks all manage to maintain the extremely high standards that precede them. ‘Eye For An Eye’ thrusts another catchy-as-help chorus upon us, ‘Enemy In Me’ reminds me at times of Def Leppard in their pomp and ‘Laughing At Tomorrow’ closes out the whole thing in almost euphoric fashion thanks to a big stadium-friendly sing-a-long core.

To be quite honest, I hadn’t intended on giving a song by song breakdown in this review. However, that’s the effect that this album has on me – I get swept up in it. The heady mix of powerful driving rock, hook-laden choruses and abundant attitude of ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is infectious and impossible to ignore.

Put as simply as I can, ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is easily one of the best melodic hard rock albums I have heard in a very long time.

‘Tearing Down The Walls’ is out on April 9th on earMUSIC

The Score of Much Metal: 9