Melodic Rock Round-up: May 2012

Dave Ling on new releases from H.E.A.T., Mad Max, Legion, Frozen Rain and Departure

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H.E.A.T.: Address The Nation

Hailed as the new saviours of melodic rock thanks to a celebrated self-titled debut in 2009, the wheels had threatened to come off for these Swedish whippersnappers when singer Kenny Leckremo quit unexpectedly two years later, shortly after the release of their sophomore disc Freedom Rock. The leonine-locked, coverdale-voiced Leckremo was perceived as H.E.A.T.’s ace in the hole, so consternation reigned when he was replaced by Erik Grönwall, a short-haired former winner of Swedish Idol. Well, relax because the band still see themselves as the spiritual heirs to Journey, Europe and Whitesnake, and this comeback is sufficiently convincing to validate such claims. Beginning with Breaking The Silence, a ‘whoa-whoa-whoa’-encrusted, fist-in-the-air anthem that could only have been written by a group that knows every note of the Slippery When Wet album backwards, to a surprisingly mature and meaningful signing off with Downtown, Address The Nation proves that H.E.A.T. are made of sterner, classier stuff than anybody really knew. (910)

Mad Max: Another Night Of Passion

Although Mad Max have issued many albums since their 1987 debut Night Of Passion, the German hard rockers have yet to follow it in terms of quality – until now. Recorded by their best-known line-up, including singer Michael Voss (last seen working with Michael Schenker), Another Night… is essential listening for fans of Dokken, Y&T and Bonfire. (810)

Legion: Nemesis

It’s hardly an unflattering comparison but Legion must be bored of being told that they sound like Pull-era Winger. Their record label favours the expression ‘Fifth Angel meets Dokken’, however, and the group’s third album certainly melds melody and power, its standout track Lay It On The Line redeeming itself after plundering the riff to Dio’s We Rock. (710)

Frozen Rain: Ahead Of Time

Regrettably, the second album from this Belgian/German alliance is as formulaic as its title implies. In the melodic rock scene that’s often a ringing endorsement, though in this case Frozen Rain offer absolutely no x-factor of their own. All the flashy guitar playing in the world cannot disguise their competent but empty Bon Jovi-isms. (510)

Departure: Hitch A Ride

Album No.4 from this extremely capable New Jersey-based unit, based around keyboard player, guitarist and songwriter Mike Walsh. Best typified by the powerful Nowhere To Go, Hitch A Ride is full of stylish, sophisticated melodic rock with plenty of swagger and some stellar vocals from Andi Kravljaca of the Stockholm-based group Silent Call. (710)

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.