1. Battleground 2. Burn Out 3. Runaway Train 4. End Of Times 5. Lightmaker 6. Get Ready 7. Justice 8. None 9. Dark Side 10. Child
I am thoroughly enjoying this Rivel Records roster. My last few reviews have been quite positive, covering Audiovision and Divine Fire for the label. This time around we explore more Christian white metal in the form of Heartcry's debut album "Lightmaker", a suitable name for another inspirational, thought provoking band. With the group's Rivel Records debut the band introduce us to a deeply rooted 70s sound, clearly inspired by the likes of Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow, UFO, and a good amount of Euro flavored power metal to add in a bit of a modern approach.
I'll be the first to say that this album is probably the "weakest" sounding release of the recent batch of Rivel goodies. Audiovision, Divine Fire, and Veni Domine all sound bombastic and crystal clear. This album is really on the other side of the fence. The production is extremely loose as opposed to the tighter, more refined control panel used for the other releases. This could be simply the band's decision to clearly stay grounded, to absorb the loose, more blues based vibe of the 70s and early 80s. They really capture that soundtrack and expand on the ideals put forth with the grand spectacle of NWOBHM. At times I'm reminded of early Maiden, Tokyo Blade, and Savage. Other times I'm embracing this Swedish band's ode to Hughes, Gillan, Blackmore, and Lynott.
But before we jump into the album, let me introduce you to Heartcry and the events that led up to "Lightmaker". The band was formed in the late 80s by lead vocalist and guitarist Anders Johansson and keyboardist Dan Tibell. The band recorded and released three records prior to "Lightmaker", "Come Back Home", "Heartcry", and "Okenland". During the band's active period they did some touring and managed to gain a small record contract. After years of hard work and dedication the band decided to take a three year hiatus. Now God's soldiers are back and better than ever, signing with Christian Rivel's (Divine Fire, Audiovision, Narnia) Rivel Records group.
This album kicks off with a running head start, with the faster, more powerful cut like "Battleground". With this sweeping opener the band enjoys a fantastic romp through European power metal, with influences coming from the German scene for sure. Johansson proves he is a capable singer and guitarist for this style, really going over the top at times with his delivery and range. The guitars are extremely loose and would normally sound somewhat out of place. But with this album's production it all fits together well. "Burn Out", "Justice", and even parts of "Get Ready" has a Rainbow/Dio styled vibe, with a good health dose of 70s hard rock dashed in. Drummer Anders Kollerfors drumming pattern reminds me of Bill Ward and Bobby Rondinelli on these types of songs. "Runaway Train" gets back on the rails again, adding in plenty of speed and hard rock velocity, sort of combining the first and second cuts together for a well blended NWOBHM shake. Judging from cuts like "End Of Times" and "None" Heartcry enjoys more pop oriented music as well. By no means are these songs dance friendly or completely R&B oriented, but the songs are slow-tempo and really don't drive into any power or heavy metal fire. They aren't bad songs, but I was hoping for some more fury. The album closes with "Child", a jam styled Led Zeppelin fest.
Note- You can download two more bonus tracks, "The Viking" and "Still", at the band's official site.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details