Sacred Heart - Shake

Sacred Heart were first formed in the mid 90's and gained a loyal local following but as the band themselves will admit, it was just for fun and they had no real ambitions other than to just get out there and play. The band split in 1999 and went their separate ways before getting back together in 2003 to make a much more serious go at things. They recorded a live demo which led to live dates with the likes of The Quireboys, Kee Marcello and Saxon before making a studio demo, which brought interest from a number of independent labels, followed by more touring. The band finally entered the studio earlier this year to record this album with Producer Alex Burke (Audio Republik).

The album opens with 'Afraid', the first thing that stands out is the guitars, they sound great - very well played with a nice crunchy sound. Unfortunately, in comparison to the guitars the drums sound weak and while competently played they come across as quite basic. The vocals sound very much like Joey Tempest of Europe, if the world ever needed a Europe tribute band, Paul Steed would surely be the first man in line for the job! Next track, 'Paradise' has some cut-and-paste generic AOR-by-numbers lyrics. A pretty good song but you've heard it so many times before. 'Tonight' begins with an uninspired acoustic intro, the saving grace is Paul Steed's vocals, he really has a great voice, which has the strength to fit this kind of music well. The title track 'Shake' has a more bluesy feel but the only question I found myself asking was how can any band make a song about strippers sound so dull? 'Maybe' is the obligatory AOR ballad about a lost love, no surprises on the subject matter then! The lyrics are so tired they even elect to rhyme maybe with baby, it's as if they've read the songwriting for beginners book and followed each easy to use step. By this point I just want the album to end, unfortunately it's only halfway through and I'm sorry to say the second half of the album plays out in much the same way.

It's not that this is a bad album, it's just not a good album. It plods along and goes nowhere exciting. The only way to describe it is 'average'. Very, very average. Albums as average, tired and unimaginative as this are the reason that the AOR scene died in the first place. Since the release of the album the band have played gigs and festivals with bands such as Kingdom Come, Blaze Bayley, House of Lords and Thunder, they've no doubt gone down a storm with the crowds at these shows but I'm afraid this album just hasn't done anything for me.

4/10

by John Baxter

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