My first exposure to Bloody Heels came by random chance several years ago, when YouTube suggested their music video for “Hungry for your love”. I dug the tune, although I suppose based more on the merit of the band’s integrity and clear love for all that is authentic 80s glam/hard rock, than the song-writing itself. I thought I bookmarked the video.
I thought wrong.
I forgot all about the band.
Fast forward a few years later, and I discover the video for “Cheap little liar”, the band’s first full length album. I was instantly impressed. I didn’t even make the connection at first, that this was the same band whom I had checked out a few years earlier with their “Hungry for your love” video.
Video quality, hooks, massive gang backing vocals, everything I seek for in this music – delivered in heaps in that video track. Needless to say, I picked up the CD, and made the effort to see the band live. Not once, but twice.
Those of you not familiar with their full length debut CD, released in 2017, the band delivered in style. Think bands like Pole Position, or Masquerade, with the mood of Return or Edman-era Glory. Superbly produced, the album captured precisely the authenticity so many hard rock bands today wish to attain, yet fail to.
Forget the slick, polished, Frontiers-records style delivery many of us love, myself included (but, sometimes crave to break away from). Bloody Heels full length debut was precisely that break many of us craved.
Which brings us to their latest: Ignite The Sky. Before hearing the album, I was informed the band would be trying something a little different.
In this style of music, ‘a little different’ is almost like hearing the love of your life tell you “I don’t want to break up, but I think we should see other people.” Us die-hard rockers, are a stubborn bunch. We know what we love. No matter how every element of the music we love makes others squirm, we love it all. The hair, the wild guitars, the fashion, the over-the-top backing vocals, the shout-along choruses. With that said “a little different’, is all but guaranteed to make most of us squirm. We don’t want different. We want precisely what we’ve loved for 30+ years, and seldom welcome anyone tweaking with the formula we know so well.
And as such, I proceeded with caution.
As soon as the opener kicks in, I take notice. It’s clear the band is taking a mild detour, but without doubt – this is no change in direction.
They’re simply shifting gears.
The best way to describe what is taking place in this album, is a similar transformation that Skid Row took between their debut, and Slave to the grind. Or, consider Winger’s move from their second full length, to their third one, Pull, or even the rowdy shift from Shotgun Messiah’s debut, onto their superb “Second Coming”. Another similar experience would be like taking a one way express train from Ratt’s late 80s catalog, directly to their magnificent comeback “Infestation”. A tad heavier, more mature, but never at the expense of made the band great in the first place. Albums like Slave to the Grind, Pull, or even Infestation, may not have been instant hits with me, but given their due time, they aged far better than their predecessors, and I have a feeling the same will hold true for this, Bloody Heels’ second album.
I think the best way to illustrate this album without attempting to compare them to specific sounds or bands, is to simply consider being taken back in time to 1992. Not a year earlier, not a year later. I know, Winger’s Pull came out in 1993. I select 1992 however precisely because this was the year, many great bands who rocked the 80s, delivered their last notable kick at the can. By 1993, many bands traded in their guitars for Playstations, and their spandex for lumberjack flannel shirts. However, 1992 was a year when many hard rock bands still held tight to that classic late 80s sound, albeit delivering it with an edge- with the inevitable angst of an era that somehow knew it’s time had come. The great thing about this band today, is that unlike our heroes back in 1992, Blood Heels don’t give a rat’s ass (or need to) about what’s trendy or cool. This isn’t a Skid Row or Motley Crue, who have record label excecs on their asses about changing styles to stay relevant, or getting the boot. This is 2019. I don’t think anyone in their right mind has any delusions about what can be achieved by playing this style of music today. Playing gigs to several hundred fans, making enough to pay for your travel expenses, and getting to rock out with some cool rockers and rockettes around the world, is as good as it gets. And for most, that seems to be enough – which is precisely why I feel many of the bands delivering this style of music these days, are far more genuine in their delivery, than a good number of posers from the era gone by.
Bloody Heels delivers a far more mature album with this second platter. Vicky’s vocals are on par with what was heard two years earlier on the band’s debut. If you like the raspy, Scandi flavor of Jonas Blum (Pole Position), then his voice won’t disappoint. Altough I am certain these guys haven’t yet reached their apex, this second album is a clear improvement, and I am certain I’ll be coming back to this one far more often than their full length debut.
To summarize – if you can imagine Masquerade (s/t), Pole Position (s/t), Glory’s 2nd and 3rd albums, Skid Row’s Slave to the Grind, all tossed into a blender, with a sprinkle of Norway’s Return added as garnish, you’ll have an idea of what to expect here. The album is tight, raw, loaded with huge choruses, and sounds as if everything after 1992 never took place.
There’s not a single hint of anything you’ve heard over the last 25 years or so here – which, may be one of the reasons Frontiers records was reluctant to sign these guys on their debut. If Frontiers delivers one polished Ferrari or Lambo in the AOR/hard rock sense after another, this album would best be comapared to a gas guzzlin’ 1987 Camaro. Bloody Heels fly in the face of modern AOR/hard rock convention with this album, much in the same way Crashdiet played by their own rules on their legendary debut.
If bands like Crashdiet, Confess, or even Crazy Lixx are your idea of what it takes to rock these days, Bloody Heels’ latest “Ignite the sky” is bound to be among your top albums of 2019.