I’m not going to lie, I have the biggest fucking headache right now. And who is to blame for this ailment? Bon-fucking-Jovi. Why in hell would I be listening to Bon Jovi, you might be asking? Because Jaded Heart‘s back-catalog resurfaced my hard-helmet, classic-rock listening, construction-work nightmares. Yep, you read right. I said Jaded Heart. Why would I dare review such a thing, you may also be asking? Well, curiosity killed the cat. Not so much a curiosity for more Jovi-core (thanks Dr. Fisting), but instead a curiosity for why Guilty by Design (Jaded Heart‘s one-billionth album) got picked up by Massacre Records. What the hell? Is Doc serious? Grab your denim jacket and pump-up your Reeboks, sissies. Scary places await.
Now imagine this. It’s ninteen-hundred-and-something, Zack Morris rules the boob tube, bull cuts are fashion, and Metallica has sold millions of hard rock records. A band emerges from out of nowhere, playing a brand of American rock that once dominated ’80s radio. But this explains why no one has ever heard of Jaded Heart. Their style is a decade too late and they hail from Germany—not America. That being said, the band has some serious followers dating back to 1994’s Inside Out debut. Yep, many people use to adore that Bon Jovi-meets-Michael Bolton sappiness. But what’s interesting is two decades later they sound nothing like themselves. As if they are a completely different band with the same goddamn name. Today’s sound is far from the Jovi/Bonfire metal of the past, and closer to Evergrey and Kamelot. Even vocalist Johan Fahlberg has Roy Kahn-like subtleties to his voice—an approach far removed from that of previous vocalist/guitarist, Michael Bormann. But what’s next for Jaded Heart. Black metal?
Keep the faith, y’all. Guilty by Design continues that melodic/power-metal trend set by 2009’s Perfect Insanity. Guilty by Design opens with perhaps one of the catchiest power metal ditties I’ve heard in some time. “No Reason” sports some big-ass verses, a lighter-flicking chorus, and some catchy riffage. While “No Reason” opens with an upbeat mood, its bookend (“Torn and Scarred”) crushes that mood with seething emotion. These two tracks have everything one could desire from a melodic/power metal act. They have memorable riffs, loads of melody, and all the sing-along choruses you ever hope for. Toss in the Kamelot/Dream Evil moods and vocal delivery of “Watching You Die,” and you have a trifecta of addictive melo-power.
But if these are the top tracks, everything else falls a ladder rung or two below. Though the lyrical cheese is thick on “Rescue Me,” “Seven Gates of Hell,” and “So Help Me God,” these songs also have just enough punch to make them fun. Once again, the Kamelot reference appears, seeping into “This Is The End.” While Evergrey‘s downtuned, bassy character engulfs “Salvation.” On the flip side, numbers like “Godforsaken,” “Remembering,” and “Bullying Me” lack the chops present on the rest of the album. For those that can’t get enough from this release, pick up the special edition. Bonus tracks, “My Farewell” and “My Own Way Down” contribute to the album’s mood and should round you out like a wheel of cheese.
Since evolving to a more digestible sound (at least to these ears), Jaded Heart have been quite consistent in their output. Never blowing me away, but never scaring me off either, the post-2009 material is rather enjoyable. Over the years they have become louder and more compressed, but the balance has not suffered. My only production complaint being that the drums need a boost in the mix. For fans of the band’s most recent work, I don’t doubt you will enjoy Guilty by Design. If you are fan of the Jovi days, then Guilty by Design may taste like bad medicine. So, you might want to runaway. [Stop that and report to HR. – Steel Druhm].