Escape Music ESM-075
Produced by: Steve Morris

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Relatives: The Distance, Change Of Heart

  1. Imagine My Surprise
  2. Follow Me
  3. Man In The Iron Mask
  4. The Best Of Times
  5. Fight The Good Fight
  6. Time And Tide
  7. The Bottom Line
  8. Black & White
  9. Refugee
  10. All Her Own Way
  11. Classical Blast

Heartland are back and better than ever. Each album I review I feel there is a little more added to bring the band closer to nailing the perfect album.
Same too with Communication Down. They are closer than ever to the perfect album, with this album to me sounding better than any before it.
At the forefront is the production - it's crisp, clean, even and well mixed. You can hear everything going on and it's easily the best production quality since the band's major label debut.
This is also the band's heaviest album to date. Not metal heavy, just hard edged guitars backing vocalist Chris Ousey, who sings with a more aggressive edge to his delivery.
Another past criticism of the band is their lack of catchy choruses. That too is addressed here - these songs rank as some of the band's most memorable to date.
The album was mixed by Loverboy's Paul Dean, who has done a perfect job.
Track By Track: Imagine My Surprise is a killer opening track. Fast and in your face. Although there's no huge chorus, it does feature a wonderful bridge to that chorus which, in collusion with some vocal melodies makes the song an instant hit with me.
Follow Me follows on perfectly, with some excellent opening guitar riffs leading into another rocker that features another verse, bridge, chorus set up. Solid chorus and good musical backing makes the track another highlight.
Man In The Iron Mask remains uptempo, but takes the foot off the peddle a little, allowing some keyboards parts to take centre stage. More inspired vocal melodies lead into a short chorus, with the bridge again the song highlight.
The pace steadies for the moody The Best Of Times. Steve Morris again provides some excellent guitar playing through the intro and verse. The chorus is one of the best of the album, stepping up at least 2 notches, making this one of the album's best choruses.
Fight The Good Fight is the album's first ballad. Typical of Heartland, this is a stirring power ballad with a big chorus featuring Ousey on lead and backing vocals.
Time And Tide features some of the heaviest guitar work I have heard from Morris. Ousey is also aggressive. This song features a slightly progressive arrangement. Add swirling keyboards and a typically short, but rousing chorus and the song remains one of the more musically adventurous of the album. Excellent.
The Bottom Line features another cool guitar into a fast tempo track with a slight progressive edge. The song lacks a better chorus.
Black & White features a moody keyboard/effects filled intro, leading into a darker and more mysterious song. This track sees the band stretching themselves musically and is different to anything else they have done previously. No big chorus for that instant gratification, but it grows with repeated listens.
Refugee features another long moody intro, before switching pace and heading uptempo. Another interesting track with as great verse and good chorus.
All Her Own Way is an uptempo happy go lucky rocker, with a good keyboard mix and one of the best choruses of the album. A really catchy tune and one of the best of Heartland's career.
Classical Blast ends the album on an instrumental note, with Steve Morris and the rest of the band getting to strength themselves again. Once again there are some progressive elements added to this song that make it an enjoyable instrumental.
BOTTOM LINE: Easy. All Heartland and Chris Ousey fans need thins record as it again moves forward and betters the last album. The heavier edge and tight production help to highlight what is essentially a great batch of songs. The extra time put into the development of this album clearly shows. A must for old fans of the band and quite capable of brining in some new ones. A credit after such a long history.
ESSENTIAL FOR: All Heartland/Ousey fans, fans of polished guitar driven melodic rock.
DISCOGRAPHY:Heartland . Wide Open . 3 . Bridge Of Fools . Miracles By Design . When Angel's Call . As It Comes . Communication Down

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