Saturday, December 27, 2003

Review: HEAVENandHELL - 3-song Sampler (2003)

3-song Sampler

Those of you who enjoy checking out local bands know there is a common "sound" to many of the bands plying the bar circuit across the country, whether it be here in Detroit, out in far-off Sacramento, or in HEAVENandHELL's hometown of Indianapolis. Heavy on the bass, frequent time changes, and chunky riffs are some of the hallmarks of this genre-transcending style I lovingly refer to as "bar rock". Formed only in January of 2003, HEAVENandHELL  are a five-piece who exhibit all the trademarks of the bar rock style with an added boost from frontwoman Mia Kileen, who has a voice very similar to Pat Benatar.

The three-song sampler sent to me for review is a precursor to HEAVENandHELL's debut full-length, which the band is currently in studio recording. The first track, "Without You" is really the weakest of the three. Bass player Sam Honeycutt delivers a solid performance and is way up in the mix, while guitarists Gregg Jones and Jeromy Pierce lay down some pretty straightforward riffs. The problem is that Mia sounds a bit forced and not at all into the song. This results in the song sounding a little flat, as if the band were merely going through the motions. "One Day", however, shows what HEAVENandHELL are really capable of. Slower paced than the leadoff track, Mia is clearly immersed in the lyrics and delivers a powerful performance. Gregg Jones, who handles most of the leads, shines with a few above-average licks and some expressive hooks. John Foster is dead-on behind the kit, handling the time changes without pause. According to the band's website, this song has been chosen for the soundtrack to an upcoming indie film. The heaviest song on the disc, "Hate" begins with a portentous lead from Jones and some fine drumwork by Foster. Slightly over mid-way through the song, Honeycutt breaks into some progressive bass lines before the band opens up again with the dark riffs. Mia is in top form, exhibiting convincing range and emotion.

Although currently seeking a replacement for Honeycutt (as of this review), HEAVENandHELL should leave the studio having produced a quality slab of rock that will appeal to the fans of classic and modern rock alike. Keep an eye out for these guys and check their website for recording updates.

Track Listing
1 Without You
2 One Day
3 Hate

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