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LIONHEART Second Nature (Reissue)

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Thursday, February 17, 2022 @ 10:26 AM


- advertisement -
LIONHEART
Second Nature
(Reissue)
Metalville Records - 2022
http://www.lionheartrock.com




For those uninitiated like myself, LIONHEART is probably a band that even if you've heard of them, you might not have heard much FROM them. After releasing their debut album Hot Tonight in 1984, the band ended up splitting up and nothing was heard from them again (aside from a 1999 archival release). Well, not until more than three decades later, in 2017, when a reconfigured lineup of singer Lee Small, guitarists Dennis Stratton and Steve Mann, bassist Rocky Newton and drummer Clive Edwards put out the original release of this Second Nature album. Now just five years after that, the album is getting a reissue with a couple of bonus tracks (and an included poster that gives you the career history and discography of each member of LIONHEART) thrown in for good measure.

I'm not going to lie to you, the presence of Stratton, the former IRON MAIDEN guitarist had me thinking that this was going to be a metal album. Again, I was almost completely unfamiliar with the band. So you can imagine that I was a little surprised to find that LIONHEART's music was more in the hard rock vein and included quite the serving of melody as well. That's not a bad thing in any way but my basic lack of knowledge meant I was surprised.

After a very brief, and for me, utterly meaningless introductory instrumental entitled "Prelude", the album kicks off in full with a smashingly uptempo rocker called "Give Me The Light". You can color me impressed. I loved the way the album sounded. Great riffs, huge melodic hooks and Lee Small has some damn good pipes on him. And I have to say that while I love the original BLUE OYSTER CULT version of "Don't Pay The Ferryman", LIONHEART's version got my blood racing just as much. Covers are never easy but I thought the band pulled this one off quite nicely.

While "Angels With Dirty Faces" was a solid thumper of a fast moving track, I was more taken with the song "30 Years". The music for "30 Years" grabs hold of the listener pretty quickly as the song's lyrics serve essentially as a musical biography for Dennis Stratton. The nostalgic look back over a career through a killer set of lyrics always makes for an entertaining listen for me.

The instrumental "On Our Way" serves as a halfway decent lead into the album's title track. (One note here: While the packaging for this reissued edition of Second Nature is top notch, the song title for this title track is missing in the liner notes with the lyrics. Seems like a kind of silly mistake to be made.) The song has a slightly misleading piano introductory start. You might think its going to be a ballad. But that idea is quickly dispelled as the song gets a more kinetic charge of hard driving rock and roll sound, mostly in the song's chorus, while the main lyrical verses have just a slightly slower delivery.

As for the song "Prisoner", I loved the mood established by the song's musical rhythmic take. It gives you the feeling of a galloping horse as the song's pace moves back and forth in pacing throughout.

I've liked guitarist Steve Mann because of his time with the MCAULEY-SCHENKER GROUP so his work here was a welcome thing. Besides playing and writing material for the album, he produced the album and does a great job shepherding the band's sound so that it resonates loudly and proudly from track to track.

That said, while the power ballad "Every Boy In Town" is a solidly written tune, I found myself not quite able to connect with it fully. I don't know why this is because it isn't like I think the song falls into the "sickeningly sweet" category of ballads.

The first of the album's two bonus tracks is the song "Mary Did You Know", the Christmas single LIONHEART originally released in 2020. The version here was remixed in 2021 and it's fine as far as it goes but the song likely would've hit more at home with me if I'd been listening to it during the holiday season.

The second bonus track is a cover of THE BEATLES song "Paperback Writer". What's funny about this one is that I am not much of a fan of THE BEATLES. But when a band covers one of their songs well, I've learned that I typically end up liking that cover a lot. Such is the case here. The LIONHEART version is far heavier in musical vibe but it definitely makes the song that much more interesting to me.

The very last song on the album is listed in the liner notes as an instrumental entitled "Reprise". However, it's actually a reprise of the song "Second Nature" and it includes vocals. The delivery of the lyrics is slower than in the main song, almost like a ballad, but it does work even if the song wasn't described quite accurately in the liner notes.

Of course, while I did enjoy a lot of the album's songs, I think LIONHEART really knocked it out of the park especially well with a trio songs towards the end of the album. "Time Is Watching" is just a flat out great rocking track while the song "Lionheart" is an explosive fireball of relentlessly paced in-your-face rock and roll. It's probably the fastest track on the album and you can really dig into the music on this one as the band goes full throttle throughout the track.

But by far my favorite song has to be "Heartbeat Radio". That song is just a blazingly fast hard rock track filled with a huge dose of melody, a lively solo and a chorus that ties everything together perfectly. The way the backing vocals help elevate said chorus also gives the song an additional lift. It is a true gem of melodic hard rock!

I may have gone into this review with little in the way of practical knowledge about LIONHEART but after listening to the album, I find myself really hooked and now I want to go about listening to everything the band has put out. If the intent of reissuing Second Nature was to give the album a second chance with the fans, LIONHEART has certainly hit the bull's-eye with me. I am just loving this album a lot!

4.5 Out Of 5.0


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