Label: Karthago Records / Pure Steel Records
Date: May 28th, 2021
It’s been the holy trinity all along. Great Britain, USA and Germany. With rare exceptions to the rule in the form of AC/DC, Krokus or maybe others I cannot remember right now. But where was the rest of the world in the grand scheme of hard rock’s uprising at the start of the 1980’s? The entire planet went nuts for Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Motorhead, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Saxon, W. A. S. P, Scorpions… There must have been other countries involved. How can there not be? But who cared with all the megaliths of the era…
So it took the world to pass into a completely new century to start looking for the pearls in the musical abyss we are experiencing. Hail the good people at Karthago and Pure Steel Records who shoveled their way to Belgium’s premium hard rocking entity, neatly titled White Heat.
Naturally, when you stumble upon an album published in 1982, you are well aware of what you are about to hear. It’s the sound of the era, just before thrash metal came into play. White Heat is not different. They fitted right in. If I would to name their influences, they are clearly coming from the British side. Deep Purple and early Whitesnake. However, the Belgian quintet didn’t miss out on the appearance of the new wave of British heavy metal. Combining the two, the self-titled debut album is a fairly successful take on the style of music ruling the time when it was created.
When I say “fairly successful”, I mean just that. There is a clear reason why bands like White Heat never grew in proportion to their more famous colleagues. And it’s not just the country of origin.
While “White Heat” is a good record, no doubt, it falls short of the contemporary masterpieces. The same year that saw this album also saw the release of “Number of the Beast”, “Blackout”, “Screaming for Vengeance”, “Iron Fist”, “Under the Blade”, “The Eagle has Landed”, “Saints and Sinners”, … I could go on forever with this list.
“White Heat”, on the other hand, offers a collection of songs that follow the creative patterns of the band’s heroes. Obviously, the Belgians learned all they could and displayed it in full. Unfortunately for them, the tracks on this album, though stylish and catchy are no stellar hits. Especially in the above mentioned competition.
Okay, perhaps this record is not quite a classic you must not miss out. Yet, it is not a complete waste of time and money (it is quite affordable with this re-release). Far from it! As I said, the songs present here are catchy and memorable. Standardized riffing, rhythms and a finely tuned voice are all there and put together as they should be. A great choice for your smoke-filled, sweaty pub for a couple of hours of honest hard rocking.
Oh, and not to forget, there are a couple of greatly accentuated choruses to rush the blood straight to your head. Either one of them, since love (or its derivate) is the predominant theme of “White Heat”. “Rock ‘n Roll Kick”, “Keep Cool Girl” or “Babbling Wind” as best examples.
And just so it’s not all cliché (at least from 21st century’s perspective), the album contains no power ballads and no self-titled song.
When the original and re-mastered ten tracks are up, the album goes enhanced with four re-recorded songs. Just to show the band is active again and ready to go out on stage again. These four songs are further developed, too. Most noteworthy is the keyboard background in “In Need of Ya”, but the vocals are also (at least in my opinion) better. It would seem Mr. Flype Lemmens’s vocal chords are a fine replacement for the original singer. Plus he looks like Halford’s doppelganger.
By the way, under the wings of the same two labels named above, you can also find the second White Heat record, “Krakatoa”. Whether “Runnin’ for Life” will be included in this series is the question to ask. Either way, White Heat is a worthy archaeological dig for the rockers and rollers out there. Another question is whether the Belgians will go on and push a new record with this new found attention at hand. Me, I do hope they will.