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Heartwind - Higher and Higher

Higher and Higher
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 25 May 2018, 3:12 PM

HEARTWIND is the story of two old friends, with a common love for classical melodic hard rock and AOR that after fifteen years of friendship started to write the album they always had wanted to listen to themselves. Over a meal in downtown Stockholm, guitar player and songwriter Goran Engvall and Progressive/Melodic keyboard player and fellow songwriter Mikael Rosengren, laid down the vision for what was yet to come. 15 original songs and 12 months later, Mikael started to pull some strings from his many fellow musicians in the Swedish hard rock scene since 20 years back.

The two songwriters were amazed with the positive response they got on their first demos, from hard rock industry people & fans. It became evident that they were going to be able to attract some great talent to the album and the band. Believing in the importance of fellowship and a strong people fit when starting a band, Mikael and Göran started to dig in closest ground: Drummer Peter TrumPeter Svensson and singer Germán Pascual, happily joined the band, and two key pieces of the puzzle came into place. With Peter and Germán onboard, the band knew they had both a powerful backbone and a phenomenal front man in place!

Germán invited his old friends, and former band mates, guitar virtuoso Martin Hall and bass wizard Germain Leth to join the band and magic was about to happen. When also the very well respected Fredrik Folkare accepted to team up to produce and mix, the band knew they had something special going. Fredrik’s contribution also as a musician on the album (guitar & bass) cannot be underestimated.  With classical albums like DEFF LEPPARD’s “Hysteria,” WHITESNAKE’s 1987 Self-Titled Album, JOURNEY’s “Escape” serving as inspiration, the intention from the band has been to get every single track to stand on its own two feet! “Higher and Higher” contains eleven tracks.

The title track kicks off the album, with a grand opening. Pascual’s vocals are lush and full of vibrato, and the vocal harmonies register high in the chorus. It has a heavy sound, but not at the expense of the melody. “Cry out into Space” has a tough guitar riff with some squeals, and a mid-tempo rhythm. The subject is a bit on the dark side, with a lot of minor chords. The pace quickens in “Ready for the Moonlight.” Twin guitar harmonies open the song, leading to a weighted sound that is thick and meaty. The chorus is the shining star in the song, with seasoned harmonies and a sound that you can sing along with. “One Night away from you” starts as a tender piano melody with guest female vocals. She has just a bit of grit in her voice; a touch of Ann Wilson, perhaps? The title of the song is echoed with harmonized vocals in the chorus.

“Surrounding Me” opens with pulsing keys and a harmonic guitar riff. It’s a bit of a heavier track, entering the border of what you might call Metal; at least comparable to the extent that EUROPE is, especially when considering the guitar solo. “Too Late for Roses” is an interesting title; a telling phrase that lets you know what kind of song you might expect. It’s an emotional affair, with more guest female vocals. “Too Late for Roses…too late for love” she croons. “Creatures of the Night” opens with lead guitar over a bed of a heavy, mid-tempo rhythm. The vocals are expressive and the chorus stamps the sound. Though it’s a bit of a cliché song title, the sound is good. “Don’t be that Girl” swings with a rhythm that you can move along with. The message is not to be the kind of person who walks around breaking hearts. The guitar solo is excellent in this track.

“Your Eyes cannot Lie” has that big emotional sound that you often hear in the AOR genre… subtle passages in the verses, and the heart-felt laments in the chorus. The solo is blues tinged and climbs the scale in perfect pitch. “Game of Love” is the final track, and they chose to end the album with a burner. It has a lively energy, great chord progressions, and just the right dose of keys. It might be my favorite on the album. HEARTWIND really is a wonderful AOR band, and “Higher and Higher” is a strong debut. Unlike some AOR, there is a bit of a heavier edge to their sound, so I find it will have a wider appeal. However, they are still expertly crafting melodies, which is the very heart of this sound.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Higher and Higher
2. Cry out into Space
3. Ready for the Moonlight
4. One Night away from you
5. Surrounding Me
6. Through the Light
7. Too Late for Roses
8. Creatures of the Night
9. Don’t be that Girl
10. Your Eyes cannot Lie
11. Game of Love
German Pascual – Lead Vocals
Mikael Rosengren – Keyboards
Martin Hall – Lead Guitars
Goran Engvall – Lead Guitars & Backing Vocals
Peer TrumPeter Svensson – Drums
Germaine Leth – Bass
Record Label: AOR Heaven


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