LIONHEART – The Reality Of Miracles [Digipak CD Version] (2020) *EXCLUSIVE*
The just released new LIONHEART album ”The Reality Of Miracles” is without a doubt one of the best melodic rock records of the year. However, the digital download version resulted a bit weak in dynamic range, quiet. Seems the band wanted to avoid the brickwalled mastering – which sounds louder but at the risk of distorted as well.
This Digipak CD version is properly balanced in sound output and dynamics.
Some chiming, synths and a brooding build up introduce us via ‘Salvation’ to the new album by Dennis Stratton’s ‘Lionheart’ – what follows is a very melodic build to ‘Thine is the Kingdom’ a sultry piece of classy AOR that takes you right back. If that’s your thing then this is a very promising opener. It would be churlish to suggest that it’s a million miles from early Iron Maiden but I am, and it is.
This isn’t a one man band though – Stratton is joined by Steve Mann (Michael Schenker Fest), and Rocky Newton (ex-MSG) with Clive Edwards (ex-UFO) and Lee Small (ex-Shy) completing the lineup. Taking the timeline right back the band started playing constant live shows, including regular sold-out gigs at the London Marquee Club. Between 1981 and 1984, more shows followed, including a performance at the Reading Festival 1981 and as support for Def Leppard, Whitesnake, and Saxon. Fast forward several decades and after reforming for the Rockingham Festival a few years back came a new album, a Christmas single and now here we are now mid-coronavirus with album number two ‘The Reality of Miracles.’
If you liked that opening then you’ll love the sweeping melodies of tracks like ‘High Plains Drifter’ that follows and leaves you with no doubt that this is going to be serious melodic rocker of an album. And it keeps coming – the title track is as smooth as it is uplifting. And don’t get me on ‘Five Tribes’ – wow! That’s another keeper, though this time with a lot more bite and some killer guitar that does actually have you looking at Maiden territory through melodic eyes! Five tracks in and we’ve only just scratched the surface!
The lighter ballad ‘Behind the Walls’ slows things right down after that bluster and has a light touch of Magnum about it, before my current favourite ‘All I Want Is You’ bursts out like an invigorating first shot of summer sun like Angel and Journey meets Danger Danger. Then the driving ‘Windows’ adds another top notch vintage slice of US FM radio. This is seriously and consistently good.
‘Kingdom of the East’ is grander with a touch or Rainbow about it, and ‘Outlaws of the Western World’ adds more classy hard rock, but it all comes with that wonderful sure-footed sense of real melody that at times is divine. ‘Overdrive’ sounds like Foreigner in their pomp.
We close with two more great songs the fierier ‘The First Man’ which might well be the heaviest and longest track here but rests on a wonderfully melodic guitar-driven chorus, and closer ‘Still it Rains on Planet Earth’ which opens up with a spoken word piece and again just hits the spot.
Strangeways, The Storm, Signal, Alias, FM, Journey it’s up right there in that territory! ‘The Reality Of Miracles’ is melodic hard rock of the highest order. This is one of our ‘albums of the year’.
A MUST HAVE
01 – Salvation
02 – Thine Is the Kingdom
03 – High Plains Drifter
04 – The Reality of Miracles
05 – Five Tribes
06 – Behind the Wall
07 – All I Want Is You
08 – Widows
09 – Kingdom of the East
10 – Outlaws of the Western World
11 – Overdrive
12 – The First Man
13 – Still It Rains on Planet Earth (Lacrimosa)
Dennis Stratton – formerly guitarist with Iron Maiden
Steve Mann – currently guitarist / keyboardist with Michael Schenker
Rocky Newton – bass player / backing vocalist with McAuley Schenker Group
Clive Edwards – drummer with UFO, Wild Horses, and Uli Roth
Lee Small – lead vocalist with Shy and Phenomena