How many times have you all heard about albums that have high expectations, but take a nosedive off of a cliff when the music is finally released? Let me assure you that is definitely not the case with the collaboration of Kee Marcello, the dynamic axeman that first wowed many fans as the guitarist in Europe’s “Out Of This World” and Tommy Heart, vocalist of one of Germany’s Premier Melodic Hard Rock acts, Fair Warning. The union of these 2 greats to form Kee of Hearts is as perfect as the sunrise glowing brilliantly on a summer morning; a new day dawning on a masterpiece of Melodic Hard and AOR that just harkens back to the day when albums contained substance and 11 tracks meant no filler. Sit back and unlock the magical “Kee of Hearts.”
Opening up this epic journey is the powerful and keyboard driven “The Storm.” I immediately think back to the first time that I heard Fair warning’s debut and the opener “Longing For Love” with Tommy Heart’s masterful vocals driving a spear through the air and landing a pierce thru my ears; opening them to a powerful musical direction of melody and hooks. The tune is just a flat-out, groove filled rocker with Kee Marcello hammering out a burning solo that sets the tone right from the start.
More of the same with the first single and video “New Dimension,” which also has the subtle, soothing, yet crunchy groove. The track just flows seamlessly with Heart nailing all of the notes like a rookie trying to win a spot on the roster.
I was impressed with this album from the first listen and just like any other fine piece of Melodic Rock, I have a few stand-outs, “Crimson Dawn” being one of them. How can I not love this tune with Marcello ripping out a masterful solo right at the gun? Some wines just get better with age and Marcello has never sounded better. His playing is powerful, soulful with a melodic precision that handles ever corner like a finely crafted sports car.
There is a system in place here that is engineered to succeed and the flow of this album is near flawless with “Bridge to Heaven,” a textbook AOR track with perfectly injected keys and a steady thumping backbeat. Besides the playing of Marcello and the soaring vocals of Heart, there is also a fantastic foundation in the rhythm section with Ken Sandin (ex-Alien) on Bass and Marco Di Salvia (Pino Scotto) on drums. Together they provide an extensive degree of foot tapping beat that takes this to the next level.
When I think of Melodic Hard Rock/AOR, I think of some of the obvious favorites from Journey, Giant and the severely underappreciated debut by White Sister. When “Stranded” roars in, I drift back to the White Sister debut with the powerful up-tempo groove, driving keys and the huge chorus. This song is right in my wheelhouse and is one that will be cranked with windows down for many years to come. Kee Marcello rips out another burning solo in this one and just solidifies the massive texture of the track.
With more of the same consistency, “Mama Don’t Cry” drifts smoothly in with a mid-tempo serenade and “Invincible” reminds me of a Def-Lepardesque intro with Heart motoring thru the vocals just like the seasoned vet that he is. Heart just seems to get better with every performance and his raspy vibrato carries through your soul like a ride on a cloud sailing softly through the universe.
With S.O.S., I hear more of that great flow with Marcello’s dancing guitar fills and wah, wah ripping solo. The band sounds like they have been together forever and the chorus “Save Our Souls,” is memorable and etched strongly into my mind after the listen. Isn’t that what Melodic Rock is supposed to do, afterall?
With no song being a filler as I mentioned earlier, I find myself jumping from track to track to listen a second time. Just like a desert, this has all of the musical ingredients to keep you coming back and that is the essence of “Edge of Paradise” and “Twist of Fate.” Both have more of the pop side of melodic hard rock, but bring the wall of sound with the powerful hook and chorus.
There is always an exit and for the door that opened, the close is what I am left to remember. With “Learn To Love Again” I have plenty to carry with me. Having a strong final tune on any album makes the journey to listen again that much sweeter and I am guaranteed to jam this one for many years to come.
If you are a fan of Melodic Hard Rock/AOR, there is a card in the deck that must be played and that card is the “Kee of Hearts.” This is an album that is text book with massive hooks, guitar that hits all of the notes with melodic precision and vocals that carry a massive thunder and a passion that retains the true glory of Melodic Hard Rock perfection.
KEE OF HEARTs IS:
Kee Marcello – Guitars
Tommy Heart – Vocals
Ken Sandin – Bass
Marco Di Salvia – Drums
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keyboards and Backing Vocals
A NEW DIMENSION
BRIDGE TO HEAVEN
MAMA DON’T CRY
EDGE OF PARADISE
TWIST OF FATE
LEARN TO LOVE AGAIN