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Heartwind - Strangers Award winner

Heartwind
Strangers
by Mark Machlay at 15 December 2020, 7:15 AM

Hailing from Sweden, HEARTWIND is the brainchild of musicians and long-time friends guitarist Goren Engvall of HITWORKS and keyboardist Mikael Rosengren from such bands as CONSTANCIA, TOKEN, and SCUDIERO. The duo were able to crank out several songs for a debut album and then sought out members to round out the lineup. They recruited several fellow well-known Swedes to create a full band lineup. This included CONSTANCIA bandmate Peter Svensson on drums and German Pascual from NARNIA and ESSENCE OF SORROW on vocals. Pascual was able to convince fellow musical partners Martin Hall from the GERMAN PASCUAL BAND to join on guitar and bass player Germain Leth, previously of THE POODLES and WATCHMEN. Courted by the three different labels, the group ultimately went with Germany’s AOR Heaven to release their full-length debut “Higher and Higher” in 2018 to much fanfare from fans and critics alike. The group is back with their sophomore album, upgrading guest singer Nina Soderquist to full-time member but losing vocalist Pascual along with his cohorts. He is replaced by vocalist Stefan Nykvist and they moved to new management with England’s Escape Music.

Despite the change in lineup and label, HEARTWIND is still truly committed to the mix of melodic hard rock with a strong heavy metal edge. Their highly anticipated follow-up “Strangers” features 10 track of high octane melodic rock and vocal performances from fresh vocalist Stefan Nykvist and newly promoted Nina Soderquist. The album is produced, mixed and mastered by Fredrik Folkare famous for producing CONSTANCIA, DENIED, and ECLIPSE albums. The band are also known for utilizing their industry connections and the album features a lot of Swedish guest artists such as guitarist Mike Laver of power metallers DYNAZTY, Erik Martensson, vocalist of ECLIPSE and W.E.T. and the multi-talented Mats Leven who has sung for symphonic metal band THERION, epic doom metal band CANDLEMASS as well as collaborated with guitar legend YNGWIE MALMSTEEN.

The album grabbed me right away and may be one of my favorites of 2020. The album opens with the amazing “Stranger in the Night”, establishing early on the amazing talent behind the band with a great vocal performance from Nykvist and some jaw-dropping virtuosic guitar solos. Then “Line of Fire” is Soderquist’s turn to shine, belting out soaring melodies over a thrashing hard rocking tune. Trading lead vocals back and forth keeps the listeners ear fresh and yearning for each voice because Nykvist returns on “Amanda” an 80’s drenched arena rock dream with a blistering solo from Goren Envall. Then the requisite power ballad arrives in “Angels Cry Again” a tender respite from the over-the-top VAN HALEN-like guitar grandiosity, channeling HEART’s Ann Wilson. We return to AOR masterpieces with “One Love” and “I’m Alive” with a classic AOR atmosphere and choruses that could rival past classics. I could go on and on, but do yourself a favor and experience this album for yourself before I spoil anything else.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Stranger in the Night
2. Line of Fire
3. Amanda
4. Angels Cry Again
5. One Love
6. I’m Alive
7. Trial
8. One of Us is Cryin
9. Catcher in the Rye
10. Searching is Over Now
Lineup:
Goren Engvall – Guitars
Mikael Rosengren – Keyboards
Nina Soderquist – Vocals
Stefan Nykvist – Vocals
Peter Svensson – Drums
Record Label: Escape Music
     


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