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Sunday 19th November 2017
Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Switzerland has produced some forward-thinking, innovative and highly creative metal bands over the years. Think Coroner, Celtic Frost, Eluveitie, Samael and Triptykon, to name but a few. However, forgoing innovation in favour of retro rock/metal mimicry are Black Diamonds. Glam-edged in both their appearance and music, the anachronistic attire of the band's bassist, Andi, is a not so subtle hint as to what this bunch sound like. And, sure enough, during their forty minute set opening for H.E.A.T tonight in Nottingham, they wallow in 70s/80s glam rock nostalgia, with a mild metallic edge. And it seems the large crowd already present in the Rescue Rooms are happy to mutually wallow in their glam-styled tunes.

'Thrillride' provides a set highlight [check out the highly entertaining farmyard/tractor video for the song if you've yet to do so!], which sees Andi take centre stage for lead vocals. But it's guitarist/vocalist Mich whose singing drives other songs forward, such as with the cheesy, yet somehow likeable, 'Vampires of the Night'. A great opening band, Black Diamonds serve up a first course of good, bouncy, retro rock/metal fun.
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H.E.A.T at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK, 19th November 2017
Photograph copyright © 2017 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
H.E.A.T's fellow countrymen, Degreed, are up next and this Stockholm mob seem vastly more contemporary than Black Diamonds. With forty minutes to exercise their chops, they do so with keen gusto, looking out to a packed Rescue Rooms with gleeful expressions. And their super melodic tunes are received well by the crowd. A small number of Degreed t-shirts can be spotted amongst the audience, so these Swedish musicians have evidently garnered a degree of support over here. And rightfully so, as their mix of heavied-up riffage and melodic-infused commercial rock is an infectious one, with songs sounding distinctly more metallic in their live form when compared to their studio counterparts.

Keys, guitar, bass, drums and vocals are combined to great effect, with 'Shakedown', aired towards the end of their set, sounding particularly impressive this evening, and gets the audience bouncing along to its melodic grooves. An impressive performance, their show seems to fly by all too quickly, but I'm sure Degreed would be leaving the stage with more fans than when they set foot on it forty minutes earlier.
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Having not caught H.E.A.T live since a Swedish festival appearance in their early days, back in 2009, the band have come a long way since then. And, with tonight's show said to be sold out, it seems their popularity has also soared within the UK. Never particularly a fan of their output back in the day, I've been gradually sucked in over the years, so relished tonight's opportunity to finally witness the band perform a headline set.

Slipping slightly behind the 15 minute change-over times on tonight's tight schedule, lights dim ten minutes late, as the band's intro music, Glenn Frey's 'The Heat is On', blares from the PA at 9:40pm, to which many punters sing-along. It's a good atmosphere building piece, and the party mood is aptly set. Band members wander onto the stage to cheers and screams, and commence their rocked-up revelry with 'Bastard of Society', illuminated by bursts of front and back-lighting. Then, clearly pumped up for the occasion, vocalist Erik Grönwall runs out to greet the crowd, and immediately starts bouncing and thrashing around with all the dynamism of a frontman par excellence. It's an explosive opening, and the party continues with two tracks from their eponymously titled debut album - namely, 'Late Night Lady' and 'Straight for Your Heart'. 'Mannequin Show' follows (the Britney-centric, too melodically close to 'Oops!...I Did It Again' number), before they return to the new album for airings of 'Redefined' and title track, 'Into the Great Unknown'.

What's interesting, and what immediately becomes apparent from the opening few songs, is that H.E.A.T now have a nicely diverse pool of music to draw from. A lot of their output might very well have retro-swayed proclivities but it's all delivered with a contemporary zest. And, while some fans didn't quite click with their latest album as much as others (personally, I loved it), songs like 'Redefined' sit very nicely within the context of their setlist.

Fan favourites continue to be fired out, one after the other... but, to be honest, such is the quality of this band's songwriting, that the majority of their songs could be considered as fan favourites. And they're all delivered through a super-tight performance, where band members strike all kinds of clichéd poses, from one foot on the monitor to rocking it out with legs wide apart. The audience in a rammed Rescue Rooms lap up every single second of the performance, with those against the barrier at the front discernibly delighted every time Erik leaps into the photopit to sing right in their faces. And this man's voice is incredible. What a range, and what charisma. And what energy. He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest contemporary frontmen within the rock/metal scene.

The crowd's delight is heightened when, during 'Beg Beg Beg', the onetime Swedish Idol winner takes off his t-shirt and horizontally crowd surfs his way to bar, while uttering that very precise instruction through his mic, "Take me to the bar." He reaches said destination, stands on the bar, has his arse groped by an overexcited female fan, drinks a quick shot, before hoisting himself up onto the balcony at the back of the venue, much to the glee of punters stood upstairs. And the fun extends to the man behind the kit when Crash gets a solo spot two thirds of the way through the set, playing his drums to the backing of Queen's 'Flash'. Now, that's how to make a drum solo interesting, as opposed to aimless skin bashing!

H.E.A.T rattle through their set and it's not long before they arrive at a pre-encore airing of 'Inferno'. Exiting the stage for a minute, before reappearing after crowd chants of "Heat, Heat, Heat...", Erik informs everyone they only have time for one more song as the curfew beckons (actually, they've already exceeded the 11pm cut-off point), and he announces they'll be playing 'Run to the Hills'. That doesn't materialise, although they do perform a few bars of 'Blue Suede Shoes', before settling into a rousing rendition of 'A Shot at Redemption'. And that signifies the end. It's past 11pm, the crowd cheer and applaud H.E.A.T with well-earned gratitude, the house lights come back on, and everyone begins to disperse with beaming grins. An excellent set and first-class entertainment.
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