[ALBUM REVIEW] Heaven & Earth – Hard To Kill

HARD TO KILL TRACKLISTING

1. Hard To Kill
2. Walk Away
3. Till It’s Over
4. Bleed Me Dry
5. The Game Has Changed
6. Anthem
7. Monster
8. LA Blues
9. Hellfire
10. Beautiful Monsters
11. Bad Man

 

Reviewed by Casper of Rohan

News of a new release from Heaven & Earth has been eagerly anticipated at Silver Tiger Media ever since our LP copy of Dig became worn from overuse and that only a week after its release.  CD to the rescue of course, but as I reflect on the excitement that springs to the fore each time the tremendous collection of tunes within the covers of Dig burst forth from the speakers, pause for concern becomes unavoidable.  Having never been one to desert a band due to a misguided perception of disloyalty, due to a change in sound, experimentation or a decision to do something different, the sensation of trepidation on new release is unusual for me.  But because I have enjoyed Dig so thoroughly since 2013, I can not help but entertain thoughts of not enjoying the subsequent as thoroughly as the former.  I suspect others may have entertained similar concerns, but the rank and file of Heaven & Earth aficionados seem to smile quietly to themselves knowing our skilful protagonists could never disappoint.

The title track opens with Stuart commanding a wailing solo from his axe, while Kenny Aronoff thrashes the kit into a frenzy, setting the scene perfectly before the track begins in earnest.  Your respitory rate is elevated, your cardiac rate raises sharply and you hold your breath ready for the blues infused vintage heavy rock at it most exciting, but it arrives with a fresh and contemporary smattering of pure skill and excitement.  Joe Retta puts lips to mic and reminds us that even the finest of things in this world, that you though could not get any better with the passage of time, throw you down and show you different.  In fact, this track grabs a fulsome handful of that short and curly, then casts you about like a like a lasso wilding cowboy on crack.  Hold on tight…This is going to be a hell of a ride!

This tsunami of rock brilliance continues with Walk Away, albeit with a slightly moderated pace, and as you take the opportunity to suck in some air, the realisation hits you that this music contains every element you love about vintage and modern heavy rock, but with everything exciting in between as well.

Lynn Sorenson stands out superbly throughout each piece and keeps the rhythm alive and dynamic.  Isolating one’s ear to the bass lines is a journey all its own, but it is unfair to isolate the individuals.  Each has a rich history in the annals of rock and it is fair to expect big things from such experienced musicians.  I just didn’t expect to be this damn satisfied.

Till Its Over, Bleed Me Dry and The Game Has Changed are sequenced in such a superb manner and clearly illustrate several elements of album appeal, not least of which is the ability of the band to truly master any style they choose.

Anthem was born to be have a stadium full of revelers throwing fists back at the band and surging back an forth in unison with the beat, while Monster explored a different direction entirely but is not an ounce less exciting.  LA Blues launches me straight back to days wandering the city from my base in West Hollywood, but recollection has me wishing I had the same superb swagger and groove as this number.

Hellfire adds a little harmonica to spice the mix and before long develops into a sensational kaleidoscope of styles and influences, but that is an apt description of the entire collection.

Just try and sit still during Beautiful Monsters and soak up another example of the keyboard element providing that additional dimension to rock that is seldom celebrates as sensationally as this.

Bad Man brings or collection to a finale and in the most marvelously malevolent manner, bringing warning of the bad man but you honestly just want more and more from Heaven & Earth.

A truly the superb result of transatlantic heavy rock with the heritage of past master entwined with every chord, but by new masters and in the finest of fashion.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this collection, infused with the very finest that vintage rock has to offer, is bereft of contemporary appeal.  If fact, nothing could be further from the truth

These tracks feel like dear old friends you haven’t seen in decades,  You know them, you feel them like you always have and they are part of you, but they have re-emerged and kicked their way back into your life with fresh modern appeal.   They are most welcome too.  If you loved Dig, prepare your abode for a subsequent favourite love

Bravura Heaven and Earth.  Onward and upwards? Fucking vertical.