With an opening track like the rebel-rousing ‘Bastard of Society’ you know from the off that the ever-reliable H.E.A.T. has stepped it up even further. It’s a track that takes up the gauntlet, races for the DeLorean and puts the peddle to the metal on that never-ending highway to the City of Rock. It’s real foot to the floor, huge chorused Hard Rock very much in the 80’s vein and very, very good indeed.
The biggest surprise though might just be the complete change of pace for the next track ‘Redefined’ which is slower in tempo, and has an almost lilting demi-ballad quality to it after an opening of keys that hint at the sonic experiments of bands like Reckless Love, but rather than go all Euro Dance Pop onus the boys take that vibe refine it and end up with a rather remarkable, modern rock song, high on Melody and really rather mature.
There’s a similarly Pop undertone to the Arena rock beat of ‘Shit City’ which rides a groove deep as Def Leppard managed back in the day and injected with a hypnotic refrain its a song that will stick like glue. It’s a damned fine start to an album that already sounds like a game changer. ‘Time on Our Side’ that follows has an incessant beat and retro pop rock attitude that’s slightly left-field but works better and better with each listen.
‘Best of the Broken’ starts with a simple beat, and chanted verse augmented by a simple repeated background melody to give the song a nice lift before it takes off into another mountain-high chorus that simply soars ad looks like it will never come back down.
The big ballad is ‘Eye of the Storm’ which really underlines the talents of frontman Erik Gronwall – the vocal is stunning and full of passion and intensity. It’s the sort of song that takes a few listens to really sink in but when it does it’s another that will just stay with you.
it’s at this point that you honesty have to ask yourself if H.E.A.T has ever sounded this good?
There’s a real flourish to the keys that open ‘Blind Leads the Blind’ – a real key-laden hard rocker that again captures that anthemic feel HEAT are rightly so well-known for. It’s a song which is right at home here – another memorable chorus and another sure-fire winner that’s bound to boost the ‘live’ set.
If you thought the band had fired all their big guns then ‘We Rule’ proves you wrong – it’s another slower number but this time it’s a real epic and has a real essence of Queen about it – beautifully constructed, wonderfully executed it has it all, including that Freddy-like chorus over wailing May-like guitars!
‘Do You Want It’ smoulders with a fire you know is bound to explode and it does of course with the chorus that again delivers the goods, though there’s a slightly quirky Darkness-like pre-chorus that just jars slightly the first few listens: its the only moment here that doesn’t immediately grab me.
We close with the title track itself ‘Into the Great divide’ a measured mid-tempo rocker full of sure-footed swagger and dripping with melody and guitar. It’s a fitting ending to an album that could well be H.E.A.T.’s biggest, boldest statement to date.
If you loved HEAT before then this is the next stride forward in their evolution. The core of Erik, Jimmy, Jona and Crash are reunited with original guitarist Dave Dalone, after the 2016 departure of Eric Rivers and they sound so hungry here its unreal. This could just be the album that takes them to that next level and into the great unknown…