HEAVEN & EARTH - V (2021)


It could be argued that I have been Heaven & Earth and Stuart Smith’s biggest advocate since the first Heaven & Earth album back in 1998. Stuart told me himself that my review of that outstanding debut put the band on the map back when the internet was just going mainstream and the album itself was only available in South Korea.

I’ve championed the band at every turn and consider the last 2 albums with Joe Retta on vocals, two of the finest sounding classic rock albums of our time.

The line-up for H&E has always been fluid, but on album number 5, things have changed again, with the label gone, Retta gone and in fact, everyone else gone. Stu Smith remains as does his penchant for delivering classic Deep Purple/Rainbow style classic hard rock.

Style wise this isn’t far from what H&E have always stood for and these songs are once again, pretty catchy and feature some sublime guitar playing.

Unfortunately, there are issues the band hasn’t faced before that diminish the end product. First – the production is muddy and at times hard to listen to, with the crisp big dollar sound of the last records missing. The overall sound isn’t even close to the band’s normal high standard.

Secondly - new vocalist Gianluca Pertralia is a major step down from Retta and past vocal guests such as Kelly Hansen, Richie Sambora, Joe Lynn Turner and Glenn Hughes.

I find his voice irritating and off-putting.

The vocals, along with the weak production, put a major dent in the band’s otherwise impeccable catalogue. The songs and the guitar theatrics are still here, but overall, a disappointing release that won’t be played half as much as previous albums.