July 20, 2021

Everyone should have at least one Heaven & Earth album in their collection and if not then the question really should be why not? In many respects, they are the archetypal classic rock band that also manages to encompass melodic, AOR and heavy metal without compromising their everyman hard rock persona. Of course, there have been many changes since the band set out in 1999 with the star studded Heaven & Earth (ft. Stuart Smith) but there has always been a mark of quality about each album despite the changes with the band currently featuring founder and leader Stuart Smith on guitar, Gianluca Petralia on vocals, Lynn Sorensen on bass and vocals, Simon Wright on drums, George Barabas on keyboards with additional keyboards courtesy of Mike Mangan. This new line-up definitely gives the band a more international flavour with an Italian singer but British and American values remain at the core of Heaven & Earth plus the band maintains that crucial mid-Atlantic sound probably best seem with Foreigner and exploited by so many bands over the years.

V sees the band in fine form and probably at the peak of their song writing too as each separate track is infused with quality and magic. It is an album most definitely born out of the ’70s when so much brilliant hard rock was produced and this album would most certainly have stood shoulder to shoulder with releases by Purple, Lizzy and Bad Company. Indeed, it is the sound of Deep Purple that is most called to mind on playing the album and there are plenty of guitar/keyboard moments that remind of the genius in the chemistry between Richie Blackmore and Jon Lord. There are lots of other influences too with Rainbow being the other most obvious reference plus elements of Ten, Thunder and even Gun and Black Star Riders too.

Stuart Smith again reminds us of just how good a guitarist he is and his extrovert style suits the band perfectly and he has developed an excellent relationship with George Barabas that cements the overall ’70s feel of the album. However, this is not a retro feeling album, but more a case of homage being paid to the halcyon days of hard rock and a re-invention for today’s rock fan who can now experience the best of ’70s metal first hand as it were. Gianluca Petralia has settled comfortably into the singers slot and his great delivery and range should mean he occupies it for many years to come.

This is hard rock as it should be played and I dare to say that it is also the best that the band has ever sounded and is as good as heavy rock gets so get your copy now.

V track listing

  1. Drive (4:53)
  2. Beautiful (4:30)
  3. Never Dream Of Dying (5:25)
  4. Ship Of Fools (5:15)
  5. Poverty (5:01)
  6. Flim Flam Man (4:51)
  7. One In A Million Men (4:09)
  8. Little Black Dress (3:44)
  9. Big Money Little Man (4:34)
  10. Running From The Shadows (4:14)
  11. Nothing To Me (5:05)
  12. At The End Of The Day (6:12)