Review by Rick Ossian
Aside from what may appear an unfortunate moniker for themselves, Spokane‘s Heart Avail have a lot going for them. Though there are only five songs here on their eponymous debut, they are all strong tunes and each one has the potential for concert appeal and/or FM Heavy Rock airplay. Aleisha Simpson (vocalist) can be eerily reminiscent of Evanescence‘s Amy Lee, or any one of a number of Nightwish/Within Temptation wannabes, but she has her own set of sexy, sultry pipes and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she can hang with the boys. By the by, the boys are Greg Hanson (guitar), Mick Barnes (bass) and Seamus Gleason (drums).
Broken Fairytale, the second single (Femme Metal), starts things off in fine form. There is a creepy cool intro filled with acoustic guitar and angelic choirs that soon blossoms into a riffy, uptempo commercial heavy rock number. The vocals are somewhat akin to what sirens must have sounded like, and though the structure is almost cliche, something keeps it lively. A beautiful synth close signals us that it is time to move on the next number.
Up next is Vacillation, and features heavy riffing on top of a pounding, grinding AOR-esque uptempo rock number. The vocals fit the rhythm of the music, which is always helpful. This would be perfect pop fodder for FM radio. I’m totally digging the main riff, which is excellent!
Always begins life with some random synth bleeps and bloops. Good strong vocals accompany a chugging riff about a minute in to the proceedings, but shortly afterwards (1:27) a decided progginess rears its ugly head. Again, I’m digging the main riff, even when it is interrupted by a noodly guitar solo and some violin-style FX (probably generated by the guitar or the keys). The production is in-your-face heavy for the most part, but I couldn’t help but wonder if it would have been more effective in more practiced hands. This is a 7-minute monster that could possibly have been pared down, but what’s the point?
No Remorse includes one of those spooky intros that you always find me yapping on and on about, but when the guitars and the drums kick in you will find yourself nodding and smiling right along with me! Aleisha is sexy and all sorts of sultry again on this track, which is a mid-to-uptempo rocker, chock full of shifts (2:45) and riffs. There is the obligatory guitar solo at about four minutes in, but there are lots of keys and vocals to rave about as well. The vocal passage at five minutes in was a particular wow for me.
The last number, Pink Lace, is oddly enough the first single. Normally I would think the first single would be the lead off track, but then, again, more practiced hands may have prevailed. Dig that opening guitar lick – I really love the energy on this one. Cool, chugging riffage accompanies a “prissy little princess in ribbons and bows”. The vocals are a strong, plaintive howl, and can be, again, in your face – but this, dear reader, is a good thing. Trust me on this. Rock blues must ask its questions, and the main one here seems to be “if you could see what you do to me/ Every time that stupid smile…” well, you get the picture!
If you like your rock along the lines of Evanescence, Within Temptation or Nightwish, and you don’t mind a bit of commercial AOR for your background, then you should do just fine with Heart Avail! Enjoy!