The 1990 debut from Heavens Edge is held in high esteem by some melodic metal fans. Released during the tail end of the big hair boom, the record mixed different rock and metal styles with some inconsistency, but when the record really hit the mark, it showed off a really talented band. From high octane solos and riffs on loan from Judas Priest’s ‘Point of Entry’ on ‘Play Dirty’, to unashamed party rock derived from Warrant (‘Skin To Skin’), a passable take on a Ratt-ish sound (‘Bad Reputation’) and even a couple of melodic rock standouts (‘Come Play The Game’, ‘Find Another Way’), it became an album with something of interest to many hard rock fans at the time. Unfortunately, their musical enthusiasm didn’t translate into mega worldwide acclaim – or sales figures – and following a few years of swimming against a musical tide, the band split in 1993.
Many thought that would be the final word on Heavens Edge, but a collection of leftovers and demos (‘Some Other Place, Some Other Time’) was released via the independent MTM Music label in 1993, and the band the band’s influence continued to be heard on various releases from big haired bands well into the twenty first century. It’s fair to say that pretty much no-one ever expected Heavens Edge to reform, and fewer people probably expected them to release a fully fledged in 2023.
Despite being written and recorded “as an album”, there are times when ‘Get It Right’ feels like as much of a patchwork as ‘Some Other Place…’. There are also times where it also sounds as dated as the 1990 debut, but not necessarily in the same way. Regardless of this, there are a few tunes for the less discerning melodic rock/melodic metal fan to enjoy within its compact, old style 41 minutes.
One of the best tracks ‘Beautiful Disguise’ features a great bass sound underscoring crunchy guitars and layered vocals. It’s good to hear Mark Evans in good voice, and that the band haven’t forgotten the importance of a pop-oriented hook to contrast their tough edge. As the track gains momentum, it sounds more like a faceless band from the Frontiers stable than classic Heavens Edge, but a few smart harmonies and a classic rock feel leading up to a terrific guitar solo make for an enjoyable listen, no matter whose name is on the sleeve. Also worth checking out, ‘When The Lights Go Down’ takes the listener back to a place where acoustic guitars jangle against big vocals like it’s still 1994, ending up with something that isn’t a million miles away from peak Nelson, but without the budget. Nevertheless, it’s pretty good for what it is; the harmonies are strong and even with a fairly tried and tested melody in hand, Heavens Edge show an affinity for classic AOR that should please most fans.
‘Nothing Left But Goodbye’ revisits the jangly acoustic motifs before dropping into a groove-laden rocker where elements of Cinderella collide with the kind of massive chorus that Heavens Edge take to glory with ease. In terms of very retro, punchy hard rock, this is the album’s standout cut: the guitar work has plenty of drive, and a huge hook calls back to the glory days of 80s rock radio, and it very much revels in its unfashionable style. Singer Mark Evans shows how he can still hit some strong notes, and the twin guitars of Reggie Wu and Steve Parry run the full gamut from jangling rhythms, through punchier riffs, eventually finding time for a slide guitar lead break. It occasionally sounds more like something from Danger Danger and their ilk than classic HS, but with such a catchy hook and a final round of cheesy “na na”s for the ultimate send off, it still works.
‘Dirty Little Secret’ mixes an unashamed late 80s sense of melody with a later crunch, and its mid tempo riffs convey a pleasingly solid sound. Evans occasionally sounds more like Firehouse’s CJ Snare dialling back the squealier elements than his old self, but a harmony driven, catchy as hell chorus hook brings out the best in his current voice. Lyrically, it isn’t shy of a cliché or two, but a big, rousing melody is enough to see it through, whilst the cheesier balladry of ‘What Could’ve Been’ features a smooth vocal, a semi-acoustic backdrop and fine, soaring guitars, and although its all from the file marked “melodic rock 101”, the marriage of melody and harmony is easily commendable. The clean toned lead guitars are flawless throughout and vague hints of an old Jeff Scott Soto melodic rocker or two ensure this is worth hearing.
Also enjoyable to a point, the opening dual guitar riff of ‘Gone Gone Gone’ has a superb tone and is a great reminder of the band’s 80s roots and a chorus that could be peak Harem Scarem. There’s not a lot about it that could be pinned down to being Heavens Edge, however, and an unsympathetic mix seems intent on killing what should’ve been a genuinely great song. An overly loud drum sound seems a little too keen on making something heavier than was necessary, and a hugely unsympathetic final mix absolutely smothers the finer points of a great lead guitar break from Reggie. This is a case of “close…but”, unfortunately, its flaws outweigh anything positive.
Although half the album shows merit, its weaker tracks actually cause severe damage to the recording as a whole. ‘Raise ’Em Up’ revels in the kind party rock that King Kobra have made their embarrassing forte, and ‘9 Lives’ wheels out a bunch of clichéd and macho lyrics that most bands would think twice about in 2023, set against a high octane slab of melodic metal that’s well played but hopelessly dated. These are bad, but stand more of a chance at finding love from fans than the tunes where Heaven’s Edge decide to crank up the heaviness.
On those, instead of taking the old, guitar oriented melodic metal route, the tougher sound comes from the bass. During ‘Had Enough’, in particular, the bass and sludgy guitar work has so much in common with Dokken’s dirgy ‘Shadowlife’ LP and Motley Crue’s ‘Primal Scream’, you have to question how long the core of the song has been kicking about. For lovers of the grungy big haired crossover from that time, this is a number that might still bring some listening pleasure, especially when things lighten up for a harmony drenched hook, but Heavens Edge were always capable of better. ‘I’m Not The One’, meanwhile, is a genuine mess. It’s verses lumber through a strange waltzing rhythm where a muddy bottom end seems intent on killing any melody, whilst the vocals actually struggle to latch onto any tune there might actually be. It isn’t until the chorus is rescued by a wall of backing vocals that anything really makes sense. Fair play to the band for trying something different, but it’s horrible, and hard to imagine any of their older fans ever loving the result. It’s such a lop-sided arrangement that even a well played, metallic lead guitar break struggles to find a natural place to sit. It’s a real chore to get through, and a far cry from (largely) the same band who gave the world the brilliant ‘Find Another Place’.
Much like the debut, even when the songs are well played, ‘Get It Right’ is never going to reach the heights that Heavens Edge once deserved, but if the band had a good time writing and recording, and a few folks are glad to have them back, then it’s not a record that’s entirely without merit. Unfortunately, three great songs and a couple of good ones really isn’t reason enough to recommend this. Goodwill will only stretch so far, and in the long run, it’s the kind of disc you’ll spin three or four times and move on.