Thursday, October 12, 2017
HEAVEN & EARTH: "Hard To Kill"
LABEL: QUARTO VALLEY RECORDS
REVIEW BY: ALAN HOLLOWAY
I can't believe it's been four long years since I was rocking out to Heaven & Earth's 'Dig' album, where they basically delivered the sort of music we all wish Ritchie Blackmore could still churn out. Head honcho Stuart Smith has once again put together a roster of musicians who just kick ass in all the right ways, and thankfully he's also realized that as nothing is broke musically there's no need for any fixing.
Opening track 'Hard To Kill' certainly sets the scene well, with blistering keyboards from Ty Baillie bringing to mind the great John Lord in his heyday, and vocalist Joe Retta managing to channel both Ian Gillan and Joe Lyn Turner at the same time. Seriously, this is one of the best single tracks of the year as it just blows your balls off. Smith himself continues to provide some excellent guitar without trying to overshadow the rest of the band, and his riffs seriously echo classic Purple and Rainbow in the best possible way, whilst the keyboards add Uriah Heep into the mix as well. Behind the kit at the back is the ever reliable Kenny Arnoff, a master of rhythm without unecessary flair, and it's obvious from the off that this is a band that play well together.
The tracks here range from fluid to stompy, from melody to blues, from paced to ballad, with the main common denominator being they all rock like crazy. Catchy refrains, foot tapping choruses and above all great playing, all held together by Retta's powerful vocals which perfectly compliment the band's style. Foot stompers like 'Anthem' and 'Monster' are designed to get fists pumping in the air, whilst 'L.A Blues' does what it says on the tin, followed by the awesome 'Hellfire', which belts along and throws harmonica into the mix for good measure. Elevn tracks simply fly by, and the temptation to listen to them is so great it puts the snake in Eden to shame.
'Hard To Kill' is definitely one of the most impressive releases this year, and Stuart Smith and co should be justifiably proud. It's definitely retro in sound and feel, but it's the sort of retro that never, ever feels old, just classic. If you like the more heavy, fun aspects of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep mixed with Rainbow's class and melody then this is must buy. Seriously - move heaven and earth if you have to, just get it.