Heat

Labyrinth

Written by: AP on 10/01/2015 14:30:28

Founded in 2010 on the crest of 70's rock revivalism and debuting in 2012 with "Old Sparky", the Berliners in Heat have followed closely in the footsteps of their heavyweight city brothers Kadavar with a sound drawing in equal parts from the progressiveness of Led Zeppelin and the blues ridden sonic weight of Black Sabbath. If I'm entirely honest, that summary carries much less allure to me now than it did in 2011 when Kadavar first made their presence known with their self-titled LP, and Graveyard broke through with their sophomore opus "Hisingen Blues", as resurgent vintage rock is so widely practiced today that the genre - or movement, rather - has become saturated.

Although the inspired artwork bodes well, it is thus with a healthy dose of skepticism, albeit with an open mind, that I approach Heat's second album "Labyrinth", which wastes no time cracking out an enchanting 'Sabbath school riff of the sort that instantly defuses one's apprehensions in "Siamese Smile". This track, and indeed the following "Free World" are examplary of the scheme upon which the album is built, the heavy slabs of doom mingling seamlessly with blues, psychedelia and rock'n'roll, and the instrumental aspects of the music customarily given the greatest emphasis. Patrick Fülling's vocals balance between Ozzy Osbourne-style howling and gruff singing depending on the mood of the song or segment, and while they fall into place comfortably, his contributions hardly raise an eyebrow amidst the jammy interplay of guitarists Matthias Schult & Marco Rischer, bassist Richard Behrens, and drummer Marcus Töpfer. That is not to say that Fülling's memberhsip is redundant - it's just that his compatriots tend to outshadow even his slickest vocal lines with their expert handling of the respective instruments.

Indeed, worship of the guitar and all it can do is of the essence on "Labyrinth", which often finds itself revelling in long winding blues laced solos and psychedelic jams and exposing its best moments then. Such passages are littered across virtually every song, be it the tribally charged percussion seance halfway through "The Golden Age", the improvised feel of the blues melodies in "Loving Devotion", or the subtle infusion of Hammond organ at key moments. These are arresting in their own right, yet one would still wish for Fülling to provide the icing on the cake with a truly outstanding performance. The absence of memorable vocal lines (which you will find ad libitum in the music of Graveyard and Kadavar, for context) more or less removes the ability to cue individual songs on "Labyrinth" for single style momentary enjoyment, the rewards instead left to be reaped by those willing to treat it as a continuous listening experience. "Labyrinth" is a solid piece of music, but there's some distance still to be covered before Heat can be considered equals to the heavyweights in the genre.

Download: Siamese Smile, Free World, Loving Devotion
For the fans of: Dead Man, Kadavar, Led Zeppelin, Lonely Kamel
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.08.2014
This Charming Man Records

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