Helluva Time

Jaded Heart

Helluva Time (out on October 10th) is Jaded Heart's latest studio album and the first […]
By Eleni Mouratoglou
September 22, 2005
Jaded Heart - Helluva Time album cover

Helluva Time (out on October 10th) is Jaded Heart's latest studio album and the first in review here at Metal Temple. That's ironic, at least for me, because Jaded Heart are one of my all time favorites and that always had much to do with their sensational (ex) frontman, Michael Bormann (Jurgen Blackmore, Letter X, Bonfire, The Sygnet). So, now that I finally have the chance to talk about their music, I don't have the chance to discuss Bormann's performance. What the heck; when I tried to see him live at the Colorado Club in Rhodes last summer the man broke his arm! It seems there is some kind of cosmic conspiracy involving me and him - or at least I'm flattered to believe so.
Anyway, enough with nonsense. The reason you are reading this is that you want to know someone's opinion about Helluva Time. And since some of you might not know much about the band, let's start with the necessary for a band's first review bio which is huge in this case as I couldn't decide what else I should emit.
German Jaded Heart were formed in 1990 as Tax. They changed into Jaded Heart before circulating their debut, Inside Out in 1996. The initial members were Michael Bormann on vocals, Axel Kruse (ex-Mad Max) on drums, Michael's brother, Dirk Bormann on guitars and Michael Muller (The Sygnet) on bass. Masters And Slaves came out in 1997 with a change in the lineup as Alex Beyrodt (Sinner) undertook the bass and Chris Ivo, the keyboardist who came in shortly after the debut's recordings also participated. In late 1997 there was their 3rd studio album, Mystery Eyes and again lineup changes. Barish Kepic (ex-Moon Dog) was recruited so that the band would finally have a permanent guitarist, as Beyrodt and Andreas Rippelmeyer were only active in the studio. In 1999 Bobby Barth (Axe guitarist) produced Jaded Heart's IV and a compilation entitled Diary 1990-2000 surfaced in 2001 and Henning Waner took Ivo's place. Journey Will Never End was out in 2002 with Tommy Newton (Victory guitarist) as the producer. 2003 was the year for Trust to come out and 2004 for Bormann to leave the group (during the previous years he donated his voice to many projects like Charade, Rain and 20th Century Boys' Beware Of The Rex, a T-Rex tribute, was a guest in Human Fortress, Biss and German Rock Stars - in honor of the September 11th World Trade Center victims - albums and also founded Silent Force and issued a solo album). Johan Fahlberg (ex-Scudiero) superseded him and so here they are now with Helluva Time, produced by Chris Lausmann (ex-Bonfire).
[Other interesting data about Jaded Heart: Bormann - who appeared as Bomann in the debut so that he wouldn't remind of the notorious Nazi war criminal Martin Bormann - won the third place in a German TV vocal contest in 1996, Champion was chosen to be the official theme of the Ice Hockey World Championships and of course their touring with bands like Europe, Axxis, Glenn Hughes, Thin Lizzy and Gotthard.]
As it is natural, the change of singers makes the difference here. Jaded Heart's sound was so tied up with Bormann's deep, emotionally overloaded and often harsh voice that the effect of his departure on their orientation was inevitable, of course given that they wanted to avoid unsuccessfully reproducing their previous efforts. To our good luck they made a wise turn and reinforced their music with positive new elements which are nicely absorbed in their usual quality.
This band had always been ideally guitar-driven, like other great German Hard Rock veterans like Axxis, with sensual rhythm and fantastic melodic inspirations and still is. The renovation is that now they sound more powerhouse thus clean-cut and the factor in blame is Johan Fahlberg's unpredictable capacity! Not even in my most optimistic mood would I dare to hope that he could be so sufficient. Thank the whatever cosmic conspiracy that brought him to Jaded Heart, he is introduced to the wide AOR audience this way.
Fahlberg's vocals are smoother indeed but his talents are multidimensional. He goes high with impressive ease but his texture allows him to go down when needed with comfort that left me speechless. And what is more, he sounds convincing when crying out passionately. This man is a refreshing injection to a band who managed to overcome such a heavy crisis as that of the mainman's absence. If Bormann had to leave, which is a more than sorry circumstance, Fahlberg is the answer. A vocalist of Jeff Scott Soto's flexibility when singing low and potential like that of Pink Cream 69's David Readman when singing high may guarantee Jaded Heart's transition to a new era. It's not only because Readman also has a voice that sticks in mind - no question about JSS - that I make this comparison. The other reason is that he managed to be PC 69's representative voice although Andy Deris' magnitude did not exactly open a way for him to do so.
About the other musicians, there's no need to say much. You are already familiar with them through Jaded Heart's previous albums. The same goes for the level of the compositions as there are catchy but not naive tunes all the way. Helluva Time easily stands among the band's masterpieces with its heavily melodic little diamonds, no matter which of their albums you consider to be masterpieces. Paid My Dues, originally performed by Anastacia, continues the tradition of excellent covers of songs that don't belong to the scene, which started with Easy Lover (Phill Collins cover) and Larger Than Life (Backstreet Boys cover).
This review has grown too long, so I'm shutting up. Jaded Heart fans, wish Michael Bormann good luck (I will hopefully see him with Redrum at the Athens Firefest gig in November), as he undoubtedly deserves and will have, and welcome the new Jaded Heart.
- Album Highlights: Tomorrow Comes (oh, yeah), Hole In My Heart, Who's Foolin ('yesterday' is here, too), Paid My Dues, Love & Desire, No One (great keys), Love To Live (Hard Rock plus completely European Power Metal guitars and vocs).

9 / 10

Almost Perfect

"Helluva Time" Track-listing:

Tomorrow Comes
Hole In My Heart
Dreams You'll Never See
Who's Foolin'
Paid My Dues (Anastacia Cover)
Without You
Love & Desire
No One
Shores Of Paradise
Frozen Heart
Love To Live

Jaded Heart Lineup:

Johan Fahlberg - Vocals & Guitar
Barish Kepic - Guitar & Vocals
Henning Waner - Keyboards, Vocals & Guitar
Axel Kruse - Drums
Michael Muller - Bass & Vocals

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