Nearly 40 years ago I committed a betrayal. No, not the one that you all are thinking, but the one in which I walked away from the top 40, radio driven songs that I was listening to and I fully committed myself to the gods of hard rock and metal. It was a commitment to not only listen, but to explore, to look deeper than just who was popular, but to who was really making a statement to me. Back then, 1984-85 to be exact, I first heard the bands Dokken and Stryper. After hearing “Tooth And Nail and “Soldiers Under Command,” I was not only a fan, but I was forever converted. Their messages, though different, were spoken purely and in a way that an impressionable teenager could understand. These were my bands and their message was the drummer that I was marching to. Move forward to 2023 and a union of two of hard rock’s legendary artists. Michael Sweet and George Lynch continue to preach the word of melodic hard rock and for the 3rd time have produced magnificence with “Heart & Sacrifice.” It amazes me that 40 years have gone by, but that feeling that a teenager feels when he hears a great album is always with me.
The album opens with the Dokkenesque, hard-driving, power-rocker “Heart & Sacrifice.” Lynch proves again and again why he is one of rock’s premiere guitar players. The rhythm is pure and powerful mixed perfectly with the signature fills that are textbook Lynch. The vocals kick in and Michael Sweet takes the wheel and the throttle is pounded to the floor. I get the feeling that this band is hungry, but these guys are veterans, why would they be hungry? With professionals, there is always the need to up the last album and this is just what I hear right out of the gate.
There is more of the same as “Where I Have To Go” blows in like a cyclone. Straight-Forward, pounding and explosive with the big hook that comes so naturally here. This is exactly what is expected and there is no let down. Lynch’s crunchy and melody rich playing oozes throughout and this is just the beginning.
The next track, “Miracle,” opens with a finger-picking rhythm and a slight ease on the throttle. Very groove oriented with Michael Sweet delivering the smoothness over Lynch’s ripping solo. There’s more of the same with “Leaving It All Behind,” a very Lynch Mob influenced feel that is played to perfection. Sweet’s power is fluent and he has a monster way of layering from straight vocals to the high pitch wail. I can’t say enough about the songwriting and how structured these tracks are; there is not only the classic sound, but also a passion that carries it through.
Track 5, “You’ll Never Be Alone,” is another foot-tapping groove that has me singing “I Hope You Know That You’ll Never Be Alone.“ The song just hums through my head gracefully like a bird in flight. There is just something about a song that sticks with you.
The gears shift with a very diverse, blues-sounding, “After All Is Said And Done,” a very catchy, mid-tempo, that beckons for a dark, desert backdrop. Excellent song that continues through a truly amazing album that is only at the halfway point.
With so much to appreciate here, I am treated with yet another driving tune in “Give Up The Night.” Sweet’s piercing high’s and cathartic vocal delivery are abundant and he just proves that he is one of the genre’s elite; there is nothing that this guy can’t sing.
There is a shift in the vibe with the dark and moody “Will It Ever Change.” This is different, yet very relevant and modern; a cool fit and a nice compliment to a classic meets modern sound. Lynch’s playing here is very deep; intense and melodic. More of the modern flair with “It’s Time To Believe” which has the darker, heavier groove and slight industrial feel. The track is powerful with the solid, galloping, double-bass stampeding through.
This album has all of the melodies that the first 2 albums posses from these guys, but there are also tracks that are very different, as I get with “Every Day.” This one just reminds me of a genuine classic, radio rocker with Sweet taking the flow with the ease of a professor, dissecting the notes to perfection.
More of that darker and modern feel with “It Rains Again;” hard-driving with a mix of the emotional, guitar injections that Lynch does so effortlessly. Yet another powerful track that changes pace and nears us to the finish line.
Hearing the last song of an enjoyable album is always bittersweet and with “World Full Of Lies,” I get the slower paced, power-balladesque vibe that just puts a stamp on a 3rd album that will stand the test of time. Lynch’s playing is masterful and Sweets vocals are just flat-out amazing; this is a duo that is a match made in melodic rock heaven.
Sweet & Lynch “Heart & Sacrifice” is a masterfully done piece of melodic hard rock excellence. There have been so called “Super Groups” and most have been really good, but there is a level attained by Michael Sweet and George Lynch that is a cut above the rest. Great musicianship combined with truly great songs is exactly what you get here. They always say that 3 is a charm and in this case no truer words have ever been spoken. Sweet & Lynch have proven that 40 years have come and gone, but true legends will live on.
“Heart & Sacrifice” tracklisting:
Heart & Sacrifice
Where I Have To Go
Leave It All Behind
You’ll Never Be Alone
After All Is Said And Done
Give Up The Night
Will It Ever Change
It’s Time To Believe
It Rains Again
World Full Of Lies
Michael Sweet – lead vocals, guitars
George Lynch – lead guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio – bass
Jelly Cardarelli – drums
Produced by: Michael Sweet & Alessandro Del Vecchio
Executive Producer/A&R: Serafino Perugino
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