HEAVY LOAD - Stronger Than Evil
April 4, 2018, a year ago
Spoken about is hushed reverence, in Europe, the Holy Grail of reunions has been, for more than two decades now, ‘80s Swedish metallers Heavy Load. Well, in 2018 (in a large part, thanks to No Remorse Records and Up The Hammers festival), the band, who almost no one outside Sweden ever witnessed live, will play a couple of dates this summer. To coincide with the rebirth, the Greek label has secured the rights to reissue the back catalog, complete with 32 page CD booklet and (more importantly) unheard bonus tracks. Stronger Than Evil (1983) is but the first foray, an additional six-pack of heretofore "new" music the calling card of old fans to purchase this edition, yet again.
Musically the missing link between Amon Amarth's burly Viking tales and the initial pair of HammerFall releases (which re-energized interest in traditional metal), "Run With The Devil" opens, a speedster with multi-voiced chorus that's long been a little tin & echo sounding. Now remastered from original tapes, there's more power and more dynamic tones. "The King" is a mid-paced romp, with prominent (marching) drums and clean, high end guitar tones. Speaking of skins, a military cadence snare rattle to kick off the bouncy, thumping metallic "Singing Swords". The emotive "Dreaming" is a proto-power ballad (so prevalent by decade's end), although none of the big label/MTV renditions would ever contain this much guitar. Strange intro is cut by guitars on the title track, which originally started Side B of the vinyl. The titular phrase is a dynamite festival sing-along. Damn shame it has taken 35 years for fans to get a chance to try it out live! The creative backbone of Heavy Load was/is the brother Wahlquist, Styrbjörn on drums and Ragne (guitars). This song shows their dominance, each instrument featured prominently. An almost danceable, strutting street cred "Free" owes a hint to the syncopated beats of ABBA, yet still heavy metal. Much like the opener, party anthem "Saturday Night" is delivered faster than its surroundings. The lumbering start to mid-tempo "Roar Of The North", which concludes the original version of the now augmented disc, could be the soundtrack to Godzilla's flat-footed stomp through Tokyo.
The enhanced booklet is not only crammed with live photos (probably a lot of stills lifted from video footage), but also lyrics and recollections about each song (even the extras), including the well-guarded secret that Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy/Grand Slam) was touring through Sweden, stopped by the studio one night and added his bass to "Free". They also drop titles of still lost tracks, so hopefully there will be more. No Remorse has a lot to live up to, with the future re-issues.
Of the bonus tracks, a pair were actually recorded for the album, but due to the restrictions of the Lp format (still no CDs in '83) left idle for half a lifetime. Pleased to report that "I Am Me" is a speedy guitar driven positive affirmation and sound effects begun "Air Raid", which is sung by Eddy Malm (guitarist who is no longer officially with Heavy Load, but did recently released a solo album) are welcome additions to the canon. "I'm Alive" was actually recorded a year later,trying out the new bass player. There's a little (atypical) punky intensity in "Lionheart", which was a demo for a never realized fourth full-length. "I'm Alive" was a '84/'85 (differing dates referenced) B-side with Malm again on the mic. Think slightly faster "Mob Rules". A brooding/mysterious "Day Of Dream" heavies up the earlier Dream entity. The "Sleipnir Unleashed" is a long forgotten (even the drummer had no idea it was him) 3:11 solo named for Odin's 8-legged horse.
Own an updated piece of history. Now as relevant as ever!