Heat are a Montreal, Canada rock band who released new album, Overnight, on Friday (January 20).
They swing from the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen to The Psychedelic Furs, comparison wise. Apparently they got together “as an excuse to get together and drink”.
Recorded at Montreal’s Breakglass Studio, Overnight features the talents of the band’s three founding members, Susil Sharma (vocals/guitar/synth), Matthew Fiorentino (guitar/synth), and Raphael Bussieres (bass).
Sharma’s prone to have an occasional “slurring, hangover-ridden vocal” and, as such, lyrics or even single words are hard to discern. This, though, somehow rarely detracts from the overall musical package; testament to the band as a whole.
The “colorful washes of spaced-out, guitar-led soundscapes” is probably one of several reasons why the vocals don’t negate too much from the overall performance.
Overnight is co-produced by Grammy Award winner, Alex Newport. He has worked with the likes of Death Cab For Cutie and At The Drive-In. The album’s “another significant milestone in Heat’s turbulent, tempestuous journey, but it’s a record that sees the band thriving in their current predicament. Ragged, raging, and unrestrained – they’ve simply never sounded better”.
“City Limits” opens things with feedback and lush lead guitar melody. It continues in a more driving vein, the vocals imploring and impassioned. Strikingly high register, melodic bass plays its tune, almost unexpected. It’s a good compromise between dainty and melodic, and driving and noisy. The vocals are peculiar but suit the mood, that certain angst.
After that’s “Sometimes”, which has a driving triumph to it, as if having come far and defied many odds. The guitars are, as ever, melodic. Again, it’s curious how these high register licks cut through a very rocking foundation.
Things strip back come the middle section, that guitar wailing both high and low before building into a full whole, once more. The solo, when it comes, is so full of melodic purpose that it’s devoid of a guitarist trying to prove their chops. Glorious feedback heralds its end.
Things are “Lush” and it sounds as it’s titled; brilliant driving bass both low and moody and high and full of the joys of life. The drums clap with a certain irrepressible zest that urges the listener to lose themselves. A remarkable rhythm section.
The guitar and vocals only seem to serve the purpose of embellishing the overarching feel, though flourishes here and there catch your ear. When the guitar takes hold, things strip back and clatter back in. The guitar does break loose, but the bass, too, wants to dance to its melody.
Then you step into “The Unknown” which’s as ebullient as the prior’s irrepressible. Lead guitar wails and rings out seeking space within the sonic soundscape.
There seems a female dedication in “Rose De Lima”, which’s got drums almost startling to the ear, as before they usually only played a supporting role in the cast. Now, however, they seem to take centre stage. Was it the drumbeat that spurred on the original inspiration for this song, built around it?
There’s a female vocal throughout, speaking in what appears to be French. Is this Rose De Lima? You can just about hear the bass grooving amidst this brooding track, biting in competition with a ringing, feedback ridden backdrop.
A picture’s painted in “Cold Hard Morning Light”; and it appears to be the band exploring another mood, one almost alien to what’s established so far. The lyrics are clearer to discern, that’s for sure. The song title, for a start. Bass fills skip across abrasive yet melodic guitar.
“It’s good to be free, dead in the ditches/It’s good to be free with the money and the b*tches, yeah” seems to decry the rock star misogyny. Some guitar hero moments with the guitar solo, though. The way which it snaps in line with the rhythmic nuances of the backdrop is so satisfying.
The interlude of “Still, Soft” appears to explore yet more terrain not covered until now. It’s got a chugging rhythm. Galloping, even. It appears very atmospheric, the guitar wailing like lonesome cries in the night. It segues nicely into…
…“Long Time Coming”, which, in turn, is joyful, bass ringing with clarity as the guitar heralds the daylight. This reviewer is tempted to liken it to something you’d maybe hear The Smiths playing. Melodramatic and miserable, yet somehow enraptured in melodic beauty and positivity. The bass really shines on this one, before the band re-join for service as normal.
“Chains” closes things, beginning ethereal before hammering with a surprising vigour that you’d usually only hear in a driving hard rock or heavy metal number. Going from light to dark so suddenly certainly catches one off guard.
Things ring with such cacophony that it comes to a messy end. Everyone regroups, though, and driving bass and drum underpin some exploratory moments on the guitar. Moody, searching. Melody and feedback combine to bring back the ethereal, propelling ever skyward.
There are so many highlights on this album; you’d be aswell just stating the lone track that doesn’t quite hit those heights, “Still, Soft”. Lush lead guitar, drums driving, vocals imploring and impassioned and high register, melodic bass sums up “City Limits”, though. A perfect introduction to an almost perfect album, indeed.
“Sometimes”, on the other hand, though driving is more as if to defy all odds. Indeed, it’s like the high register guitar licks defy all odds to be heard above a very thick, rocking foundation. Come the middle section, that guitar wails both high and low. The solo, when it comes, is so full of melodic purpose that it’s devoid of a guitar wankery.
It could be said that driving is the word for “Lush”, too. Brilliant driving bass both low and moody and high and full of the joys of life, in a way. The other half of the rhythm section claps with a certain irrepressible zest. The guitar and vocals, on the other hand, seem to serve the purpose of embellishing the overarching feel.
The next, “The Unknown”, is as ebullient as the prior’s irrepressible. Moving onto “Rose De Lima”, the album’s drums are usually so functional that when they seem to take centre stage in the aforementioned, it seems quite surprising. You can just about hear the bass grooving amidst the overall cacophony, biting and digging deep in order to be heard amidst a busy backdrop.
There’s a bit of a departure in “Cold Hard Morning Light”. In fact, it seems almost alien to what’s established so far. Even the lyrics are clearer to discern. In an age where it seems increasingly unlikely you’ll read the words to a song in the liner notes of a CD, maybe such clarity is a good thing. Abrasive yet melodic guitar is followed by some guitar hero moments for the solo.
That lone track that doesn’t quite hit the aforementioned heights, “Still, Soft”; at least segues well into the next, “Long Time Coming”. It’s the highest compliment to deem this song akin to what The Smiths might’ve played in their pomp. Melodramatic and miserable, indeed. Somehow enraptured in melodic beauty and positivity, though.
“Chains” are heavy metal, and that’s how the song starts. At least at first. It hammers with a surprising vigour that you’d usually only hear in a driving hard rock or heavy metal number. Bass and drum underpin some exploratory moments on the guitar. Moody, searching. Melody and feedback combine to, indeed, explore and search for that higher level.
Heat have put together an incredibly consistent effort. It seems rare these days that an album be so chock a block with quality music. They’ve got a signature sound whilst, at the same time, putting something forward something which never sounds formulaic. Heat’s Overnight can be purchased on Bandcamp, here.
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Words by Andrew Watson