The Swedish pop charts have been very kind to the rest of the world over the years. The most obvious band to mention here are Abba, shortly followed by Europe, The Hives and more recently Avicii. It’s safe to say the Swedes have a great track-record when it comes to catchy tunes. AOR revivalists H.E.A.T. have a lot to live up to but they definitely don’t disappoint.
Swedish Idol winner, Erik Grönwall, is the current front-man of H.E.A.T. He certainly earns his place by embodying other great front men in rock throughout the album. In most places Grönwall coan be compared to a young Jon Bon Jovi on tracks such as ‘Inferno’ and title track ‘Tearing Down The Walls’ which also has shades of Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach. Lead single ‘A Shot At Redemption’ sees Grönwall channelling the late Michael Hutchence (from INXS), in a very catchy crowd anthem which should be a favourite at festivals this summer.
It’s easy to compare H.E.A.T. to fellow Swedes Europe in places. The soft-rock synths complement the guitar work nicely with Grondall’s powerful vocal. It is also fair to compare the five-piece to KISS, especially as Grönwall sang one of their songs on Swedish Idol, but also as there is a sense of the band and audience as one unit – much like the KISS army.
I wouldn’t put it past Sweden to ask H.E.A.T. to represent them in Eurovison one year as the ‘token rock band’ of the competition. It is no insult to say they also have a pop-crossover appeal in many areas, much like their countrymen (and women), Abba. ‘Mannequin Show’ (see video) definitely echoes Abba’s ‘dark’ period and another side of H.E.A.T. we should see more of. Although the final tracks don’t have the same oomph as the preceding tracks, this is definitely a solid pop-rock album with roots in the 70s and 80s but still very current. H.E.A.T. definitely have a long career ahead of them on the rock scene and will be played on the digital ‘rock’ stations for years to come.
The band play Newcastle’s O2 Academy 2 on 17th May.
Reviewer: Neale McGeever