Posted - 16 Aug 2004 : 20:33:04
| Up 'n' coming UK melodic hard rockers released their 2nd demo CD - the 10 track "Lay It On The Line" at the beginning of August 2004. Here are some of the reviews rceived already (as well as some covering their demo live CD "A New Dawn").
SACRED HEART have a full live schedule, please visit www.sacredheartband.com for more info (merchandise/www.paypal.com, biographies etc)
----------LAY IT ON THE LINE----------
Sacred Heart is an excellent new melodic hard rock band who hail from the UK and have supported the like of Kee Marcello and The Quireboys.
The album kicks into shape with the catchy ‘Lay It On The Line’ this is quite catchy hard rock akin to Warrant, good stuff. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Away’ is typical catchy melodic rock whereas ‘N.Y.C.’ is a much superior faster catchy song, chunky rock that lays somewhere in the tone of Winger and Burning Rain. ‘The Last Goodbye’ shows a more characteristic AOR/melodic outline, the melody, guitars and chorus are juicy and reminiscent of various Scandie acts, Damned Nation come to mind.
‘Always‘ is a ballad aka Styx with dazzling vocals from Paul Stead, the track has a pleasant spacious atmosphere to it and track six ‘What It Takes’ is another immense song where the singer sounds similar to Jani Lane from Warrant. In fact this track is very much like Warrant and is very catchy coupled with fantastic guitar playing, one of the best tracks on the album. ‘In My Heart’ is standard melodic rock, catchy beat and refined melodies but seems to be a little lacklustre against the rest of the material. Track eight ‘It’s Alright’ is better with a Mr. Big/Jagged Edge feel, the guitars are again very vigorous and once again there is a strong Warrant vibe gushing through as well as Mr. Big, excellent catchy melodic rock.
The heavier ‘Hand In Hand runs with frantic guitars slashing through and could be described as cock rock with a fun Heavens Edge, Skid Row and Warrant feel one minute and more melodic the next akin to Europe, another highlight. ‘Forever’ is a beautiful ballad like Europe, its very melodic and smooth, somehow it works very well and calms your mood right down with its excellent relaxing acoustic guitars, brilliant track to end the album with. 75/100
This is SACRED HEART's best volume of music so far. Hard rock with a very melodic edge, like Boston, and in the best British tradition; Ten, Magnum & Dare. If you're on holiday in England be sure to go see SACRED HEART live! "Thumbs Up!"
Rock It! (Germany/Europe)
UK based Sacred Heart have just released this, their self-financed demo album and it carries on in the fine tradition of UK melodic hard rock bands like FM, post-1987 Whitesnake, Pride, Lost Weekend and Magnum.
Vocalist/guitarist Paul Stead sure knows how to pen a catchy riff as can be heard on any of the rockers on here. Take ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Away’ with its massive chorus (tinge of Kiss in there) and awesome guitar riff underpinned by some fine drumming. With a bigger production budget this tune, along with the title track could get some serious airplay.
The good thing about Sacred Heart is that you can hear lots of influences but the band manage to create their own sound and style as well.
For that ‘lighter in the air’ power ballad moment you have ‘Always’ – easily as good as any ballad penned by say Ten. For a curveball the band close the album with the acoustic ‘Forever’ – a fine tune and one which will appeal to Magnum fans.
Good to see a band that isn't afraid to stick musically by what they love, even if it isn't flavour of the month. Live the band can cut it as well and backed with these songs could see them get the success they deserve. Definitely a band worth checking out and keeping an eye on how they develop in the future. 4/5
I recently reviewed some demos and already knew that SACRED HEART could become a new AOR sensation and with the release of their official first full-length CD ‘Lay it one the line’ they prove that there’s hope for new UK AOR acts. The album is filled with high class 80s influenced catchy AOR/Melodic Rock. Opener “Lay it on the line” is a very good strong AOR/Melodic Rocker with a catchy memorable chorus. This song makes you think back of the days of FM, MORITZ, SHOGUN, AIRRACE, ATLANTIC, PASSION STREET, WALK THE WIRE and more of such legendary AOR/Melodic Rockbands. Other highlights are “N.Y.C. (uptempo melodic rocker), “The last goodbye”, “In my heart” and “It’s alright”. The songs are ultra-melodic, with strong vocals and guitarwork of Paul Stead, who is the leader of this band (writing, playing keys, guitars and singing!). All AOR/Melodic Rockfans need to check out the awesome CD of this great British AOR/Melodic Rockband at: www.sacredheartband.com and e-mail them at: email@example.com
(Points: 8.7 out of 10)
Editor of Strutter'zine
Quite often is is difficult to review what, effectively, is a demo from an unsigned band. Lack of money tends to lead to poor quality in recording and this can overshadow any quality that the songs may have. However in the case of Berkshire based band Sacred Heart this has not proved to be a problem. From the outset it is obvious that Sacred Heart have put a lot of thought and effort into the release of Lay It On The Line.
First track 'Lay It On The Line' come across like a heavier Bryan Adams with its staccato guitar opening and simple construction. Boasting a strong chorus and a well executed, melodic guitar solo this is ultimately a very satisfying track. 'N.Y.C' continues in the same vein leaning towards the 80's AOR sound favoured by many an American band at the time. The chorus however does not have the same instant appeal as the opening track and it is the guitar solo which produces this song's strongest moments.
'Rock 'N Roll Away' bangs its head very much in the direction of the NWOBHM. It would not have been inconceivable to believe that twenty years ago Saxon could have penned this tune. The lyrics are somewhat on the cheesy side, but as a fist in the air live anthem I can see this working extremely well. 'The Last Goodbye' moves firmly back into Melodic Rock/AOR territory especially with the guitar tones and riffs employed. The solo is perhaps the most melodic on the album and the verse melody is arguably the strongest on the CD.
Anyone who reads this site on a regular basis will know that I am generally not a fan of ballads as, unless they are of the highest quality, they often break up the flow and groove of an album. 'Always' unfortunately does not quite cut the mustard to my mind. Both musically and lyrically the song is very derivative, sounding like a thousand other ballads out there. 'What it Takes' on the other hand is a mid tempo number that benefits from mid song mood changes from heavy guitar to quieter interludes post chorus.
'In My Heart' and 'Its Alright' firmly return to the melodic rock arena. When listening to the guitar lines especially there is a tendancy to think "Where have I heard that before?", however this is not necessarily a bad thing as it proves that the melodies incorporated into the songs work extremely well.
'Hand In Hand' is definitely on the heavier side with a serious riff opening proceedings and comes as dokkenesque is places, specifically with the drum/bass patterns and the vocal melody. Rounding out the album is an acoustic track in the form of 'Forever'. Reminiscent of Leppard's 'Two Steps Behind' the song is rather good, if misplaced, coming as it does, at the end of the CD.
'Lay It On The Line' is indeed an admirable and, given today's musical climate, brave release by Sacred Heart. The band do not attempt to hide their influences nor wrap up their styling in some nu-metal type clothing. As with any release there are some quibbles of course, at times the harmony vocals could do with some extra work, so they compliment the melody rather than act as gang-style BV instead. The lyrics also at times are somewhat stereotypical of the genre, but in the overall scheme of things these are minor niggles. Hopefully Sacred Heart will continue to grow and improve and based on 'Lay It On The Line', they are well worth checking out. 7/10
----------A NEW DAWN----------
Since the release of A New Dawn, Sacred Heart has supported bands like Quireboys, Saxon, Kee Marcello's K2 and Tygers Of Pan Tang to name a few. The songwriter in the band, Paul Stead, is inspired by bands like Whitesnake, Van Halen, Dio, Dokken and more. What I like about Sacred Heart is their way to bring back the a bit forgotten eighties mixed style of Melodic Hard Rock, Melodic Rock and AOR. Another thing I think is impressive with Sacred Heart is that the songs on the CD are performed live and recorded in their rehearsal room on the first take. To think about that the recordings are live, they have a good sound and they have also managed to make really good songs like the opener Lost. The first time I heard this song it reminded me very much of Triumph from the early eighties, the riffs, singing and the way the song goes can absolutely be comparable to Triumph. Carry On is a mid tempo Melodic Rock tune with a very nice chorus and a great guitar solo at the end. The bonus tracks Fall and Promise are definitely the two strongest songs on A New Dawn, both songs very melodic with great hooks and catchy refrains a la Strangeways, FM and Touch. I am sure we will be hearing more from this band very soon, and I think a record company soon picks this band up and releases their great music!
What went wrong in the United Kingdom somewhere in the early 1990s, because ever since the Grunge and Britpop styles entered the music scene over there, there haven’t been many new British bands in the original Hardrock/Metal world. In the 1980s AOR was quite big and we had the likes of FM, SHY, LIONHEART, AIIRRACE and many more, but the past 5-10 years only a few AOR bands emerged and most of them featured musicians who already had been active in the music business, so good new UK bands are rare these days. However there are exceptions, and finally we have another true classic 80s AOR based UK band, namely SACRED HEART, who follow the likes of DOUBLE CROSS, another UK band playing the same style. Although the sound/production quality of the demos I received from SACRED HEART is not like the major label releases, the included music is definitely good classic 80s AOR/Melodic Rock. The band is formed around lead singer/guitarist Paul Stead, guitarist Mark Stephenson and drummer Claudio Cafolla, and the past 10 years they have been recording quite a lot demos, but ‘A new dawn’ is the first official release. The 5 songs were recorded live, so in one take, and actually it sounds very good. The AOR/Melodic Rock of SACRED HEART is not too far away from bands like TEER, TALON and MILLENIUM, so heavy AOR with strong catchy choruses and a few hooks here and there. As highlights I would like to mention the uptempo melodic rocker “Lost” and the midtempo “Carry on”. From the vaults a lot of unreleased demos appear, and some of them I also received on CDR, and I hope someday the band will also re-record great AOR/Melodic Rocksongs like “Fall” (strong uptempo rocker), “What it takes” (very strong classic semi melodic rockballad, lovely chorus a la NORWAY, best song by far!), “Dreaming” (midtempo AOR) and “Heaven” (melodic rockballad). In addition the band also sent a great DVD of one of their live performances. The performance on DVD here was recorded during as festival which took place in the UK on the 16-18th of April this year (!) when SACRED HEART supported the likes of SAXON, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, SKYCLAD and QUIREBOYS. The band sounds very strong live, and I really enjoyed watching this DVD. It is filmed pretty well too, and clocking in just over 60 minutes, so definitely something to check out if you already have a copy of their ‘A new dawn’ release. Concluded, this SACRED HEART is a recommended band to people who long back to British AOR/Melodic Rock, and especially interesting to check out if you’re a fan of THE PROMISE, DOUBLE CROSS and LOST WEEKEND, because SACRED HEART fits in very well between those acts!
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
Editor of Strutter'zine
A UK melodic rock band – a rare thing – comprised of Paul Stead (vocals/guitars), Mark Stephenson (guitars/vocals), Claudio Cafolla (drums/vocals) and Leigh Westbrook (bass/vocals). From the start its best noted and the band’s accompanying notes admit this, that the production isn’t a ‘big budget’. It’s only the drums for me that are too low down in the mix. Six tracks in all (one is ‘hidden’!) and in ‘Lost’ the band could have had big success back in the late 80’s hard rock boom. It starts with staccato guitar riff and features harmonies on the chorus. It’s just one of those songs that you end humming all day, it really is that good. ‘Carry On' is a mid-tempo rocker and again not a bad little tune, with ‘You’re The One’ taking the tone down to a slow ballad. The hidden track is ‘Fall’, which for me isn’t the best song on here.
Sound wise they are not dissimilar to fellow UK rockers Lost Weekend and Sacred Heart also tip a nod to Def Leppard (in the layered harmonies) and Magnum’s late 80’s output. For an unsigned band they really are very good and have a killer tune in ‘Lost’. More please! 4/5
***An interview with Paul can be found at www.getreadytorock.com/rising_stars/sacred_heart.htm***
If it was only about the Music, the own-label record of the British band SACRED HEART is quite clear "thumbs up high", but the really weak production ruins the overall presentation. All five songs are nonetheless astounding and ripe! Above all the Opener "Lost" contains so much BOSTON that one sees Tom Scholz playing figuratively! The other four songs are of a similarly high level, enough so that one should recommend AOR fans the chance to hear the band - contact through www.sacredheartband.com. Meanwhile, the band have also sent me a Remasters CD on which the songs are at least as good but with a higher standard of production. . With a competent label in the back, the enterprise SACRED HEART could rev up. "Thumbs up!"
Rock It! (Germany/Europe)
The name might make you think of a traditional metal band with an obsession with Dio, but this "Sacred Heart" does not sing about rainbows or dragons, and their music isn't metal either. Their style could be compared to the new generation of UK AOR bands like Lost Weekend and The Promise, and you can find some similarities to Danger Danger too. The first song "Lost" especially borrows heavily from D2's semi-classic "Don't Blame It On Love".
These recordings are rehearsal room demos, so the sound is pretty rough and stripped. You can easily hear that the main songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Paul Stead knows how to pen a decent tune, but this kind of presentation doesn't really do justice to the songs. The lads aren't lousy musicians and Paul is an adequate singer, but AOR rarely works underproduced.
All of the songs are quite good, but in many cases the choruses lack the final punch. Take the bonus track "Fall" for instance - good song otherwise but the chorus seems to die towards the end...
The band might consider hiring a keyboard player to add some extra textures to the songs, and I would also suggest paying attention to the backing vocals - they might bring that punch to the hooks. Not a bad start though.
KEE MARCELLO’S K2 + SACRED HEART + TRACIE HUNTER BAND
27th May 2004, Underworld Camden
A fair turnout to see former Europe/Easy Action guitarist Kee Marcello’s new band K2. But first we had the Tracie Hunter Band and Tracie’s dada is none other than Ian Hunter! Tracie Hunter has a good voice and the band are competent enough but I must admit the tunes failed to move me. It's very guitar based with a slow groove and pleasant enough to listen to but I wouldn't buy an album of it.
Next up melodic rockers SACRED HEART, who judging by the crowd reaction had brought a few fans along tonight. I recently reviewed their CD which is good, solid melodic rock and thankfully the band cut it live as well. Reminded me very much of FM (less the keyboards), Ten and Lost Weekend – all top notch British rock bands and Sacred Heart could easily join their ranks on the strength of this gig. In ‘Lost’ they have a winner – big chorus and catchy guitar riff. Plus ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Away’ came over well and even ‘Fall’ sounded better live, as that was my least favourite track on the CD. Definitely a band to go see live if you like melodic rock.
Brave move for Kee Marcello on two counts – its his first gig with K2 and the album isn't even out yet plus its nothing like Europe! In Snowy Shaw they have an imposing drummer to say the least! A massive blonde mohican and his drumming bludgeons the kit but keeps the melody & timing. Most of the audience seemed to dig the new tunes on offer including the Led Zep rumble of ‘Raptor’, the catchy but gloomy ‘E.M.D.’ and ‘Pride’. I must admit that Marcello’s vocals did struggle at times to rise above the drums/guitars and the set did flag midway through, as there were too many tunes of the same tempo. Kee Marcello was enjoying it too you could tell plus he had free reign on the guitar front! Encore time and the Europe fans went home happy as ‘Rock The Night’ got a metal edged treatment and sounded all the better for it. A sound live debut and once the album becomes more widely heard plus the band play a few more gigs, this is defiantly a band to