|Jaded Heart Helluva Time||Frontiers Records|
The most challenging task any band could be faced with is replacing a member. Never an easy thing to do, that task becomes exponentially harder when the member is a key aspect of the band's sound. It's even harder again when that member is the vocalist and one of the principle songwriters.|
Jaded Heart was faced with just this dilemma when they parted with long time vocalist and frontman Michael Bormann. This is where things get interesting.
In his replacement, they have opted for Swedish vocalist Johan Fahlberg. It is a bold move away from the vocal style that Bormann brought to the band – Fahlberg is no vocal clone and a change from the bands past trademark sound.
Jaded Heart 2005 is something different and that is where the band will both benefit and struggle – as the fan base is bound to be torn.
Yes, perhaps some of the band's magic and uniqueness has been lost, but what still remains is a fine melodic hard rock outfit.
The bands new sound is far more international – there's a definite touch of Scandinavian rock thanks to Fahlberg's strong writing contributions and there is a smoother edge to the album. What is still present is the band's big guitar delivery and production style.
Also present is several great passages of huge vocal harmonies. The band has kept its soul in tact, while being driven by a new heart.
Bormann is a great vocalist and credit to the band, Fahlberg is an inspired replacement.
But Bormann I also a proven winner as far as songwriting goes and his track record is impressive. The band had a major gap to fill with his departure. Credit to them, as they have almost done that – with Helluva Time featuring a few classic new Jaded Heart cuts.
But at the same time, it also falls short in a few other places, with a few songs that don't make the grade and could be classed as fillers.
Sonically, the album as a whole sounds fantastic. The production and mix is world class and compares favorably to any major label release. Thankfully the mastering problems that saw the volume of Trust all too loud have also been addressed and the CD volume here is perfect.
Track By Track:
The opening song Tomorrow Comes certainly does everything in its power to erase any doubts from the minds of fans and prove the band is on a strong footing.
This is one of my favourite Jaded Heart tracks in recent memory and almost raises the roof with its massive sound and huge chorus.
The moody intro of Hole In My Heart suggests a perfect follow up song is in order. The vibe is classic Jaded Heart but the song turns darker and more aggressive than expected. I like the vibe of the track and harmonies surround the chorus, but it isn't quite strong enough to follow up the monster opener.
And that kind of sums up the album. There are some absolute monsters here, but several tracks that don't reach as big a climax.
Somewhere is somewhere in between the stadium rock of Tomorrow Comes and the mood of Hole In My Heart. It has a chorus that passes without fanfare, but gets better each listen.
Dreams You Will Never See is utterly brilliant from the word go. This is a monster melodic rocker with a chorus as big as any JH fan could wish for. Superb production with an orchestral arrangement and layers of guitar fuel this anthem.
Who's Foolin' is another example of the new band. Thankfully it is another winner, which was quite important to follow up the monster that preceded it. The band takes a little Jovi, a little Leppard and a little Scandi rock to create a great uptempo rocker with a dark edge.
Paid My Dues is a curious inclusion. The band is no strangers to covers, having already provided one of the best hard rock covers in memory with Easy Lover. This cover of the Anastasia hit is a perfect fit for the band and the album.
Without You is the big ballad of the album and sees the band covering familiar territory. A strong chorus saves the song from being a heard it all before affair.
This point of the album sees things slip away a little. I'm not particularly fond of the hard rocking swagger of Love & Desire, despite a strong vocal and Shores Of Paradise sounds like a cut that didn't make Trust. Frozen Heart also misses a good chorus despite having a sonically impressive guitar sound.
Two songs save the second half of the album. The big rock anthem No One again proves the band can come up with trademark anthems and this one mixes a little of the old with the new elements Johan brings to the band.
And Love To Live closes the album in fine form. This fast paced rocker sums up the new sound and features a solid chorus.
It bodes well for the future of the band – this release won't blow everyone away, but it puts the guys in a position to keep on rocking into the future. Watch for lessons to be learnt from this release and for the next one to be a classic.
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