What do you get when you put Iron Maiden, UFO, Michael Schenker Fest and Shy together?
To be honest, I wouldn’t have a clue, but for me, this story starts in 1984 when the video “Die For Love” by Lionheart from England came on TV. I loved this song, but I never found a cassette or album of this band so I could hear more. Years later, the internet came out and I found what I was missing from 1984 for my collection. The 1984 release Hot Tonight had the song I loved when I first saw that video. I was incredibly happy to find out the whole album is great. Now let’s skip to 2017 where I was able to finally see this amazing band at Sweden Rock Festival – the same year they released their 3rd album, Second Nature. They put on an amazing show and hearing those classic songs live, that I remembered from 1984 was hair-raising!
For 2020 the band is back with their 4th studio album, The Reality of Miracles.
The new album is just over 55 minutes and 13 new tracks to keep the listener entertained. There is nothing like the combination of Iron Maiden, UFO, Michael Schenker Fest and the melodic Shy, to go with the continuation of their marvellous release from 2017.
England’s Lionheart was founded in late 1980 by Dennis Stratton (ex-Iron Maiden), Steve Mann (Michael Schenker Fest), and Rocky Newton (ex-MSG) with Clive Edwards (ex-UFO) completing the lineup a little later. The band started playing constant live shows, including regular sold-out gigs at the London Marquee Club. Between 1981 and 1984, more shows followed, including a performance at the Reading Festival 1981 and as support for Def Leppard, Whitesnake, and Saxon.
In 1984, CBS Records offered Lionheart a contract. With the new singer Chad Brown, the debut album Hot Tonight was recorded in Los Angeles. Phil Lanzon (Uriah Heep) joined the band as a new keyboardist before Chad Brown was replaced by Keith Murrell (Airrace and Mama’s Boys) in 1985. The band was hit with managerial problems, and it was felt that the momentum was gone, and the band disbanded in 1985.
Rocky subsequently sang background vocals on the Def Leppard albums Pyromania and Hysteria before joining the Michael Schenker Group. Steve set up his first commercial studio and then hooked up with Rocky again in the McAuley Schenker Group. Dennis began a 15-year collaboration with Praying Mantis. Clive went on to play with Bernie Marsden and UFO.
In 1999, Lionheart released a double album with old demos, which sold well and once again generated interest in the band. In 2016, the organizers of the Rockingham Festival in Nottingham invited Lionheart to play a reunion show. The four founding members seized the opportunity and brought the former Shy frontman Lee Small on board as lead singer. The show received fantastic reviews, and they decided to record another album.
Second Nature was released to critical acclaim in 2017 and was voted AOR album of the year by Classic Rock Magazine. This was followed by an appearance at Sweden Rock, mini co-headline tours through Japan with Praying Mantis, and a UK tour together with Airrace.
As the Christmas single “Mary Did You Know” was released in December 2018, the musicians were already recording the follow-up album. Although most of 2019 was taken up by the other projects, the band members got together in downtime to record The Reality Of Miracles. The 13 songs were recorded in Steve Mann‘s studio in Hannover. Steve also produced, mixed and mastered the album.
The Reality Of Miracles offers powerful, melodic hard rock of the highest order.
Current LIONHEART lineup
Dennis Stratton – formerly guitarist with Iron Maiden
Steve Mann – currently guitarist and keyboardist with Michael Schenker
Rocky Newton – formerly bass player and backing vocalist with McAuley Schenker Group
Clive Edwards – formerly drummer with UFO, Wild Horses, and Uli Roth
Lee Small – formerly lead vocalist with Shy and Phenomena
Hot Tonight (1984)
Unearthed – Raiders of the Lost Archives (1999)
Second Nature (2017)
The Reality of Miracles (2020)
The Reality of Miracles
The album starts off with the instrumental intro, “Salvation”, before kicking it in high gear with “Thine Is The Kingdom”. A genuine Lionheart track with a great melodic vibe which has been the sound of the band since the beginning. The melodic brilliance continues with “High Plains Drifter” before slowing down with the title track “The Reality of Miracles”. The album speeds up with the song, “Five Tribes”. Oodles of rapid guitar work throughout the track which would be a sure winner for a live audience.
The ballad “Behind The Wall” really shows the vocal expertise Small has to offer. A fantastic track as this outfit displays many sides of their musical range.
The new album continues to show the musicians’ quality track after track, which makes it so hard to pick a favourite. With tracks like “All I Want Is You”, “Widows”, and “Kingdom Of The East”, Lionheart has made the 4-year absence well worth the wait.
“Outlaws Of The Western World” and “Overdrive” are a couple of well-fitted tunes to bring us to the heavier track “The First Man”. The longest track on the album brings us the versatility of Lionheart with plenty of keys and some heavier guitar work.
As we end the album with another slower track, “Still It Rains On Planet Earth” shines bright lyrically at this time with all that is going on in the world.
Overall, a great album. It is hard to follow up from their previous release, Second Nature with all the hype at that time. Lionheart may have matched that outstanding album with this one.
For all melodic rock fans, you will not want to miss this one as I look forward to getting my hardcopy of The Reality of Miracles.
Now – you know what you have when you put Iron Maiden, UFO, Michael Schenker Fest and Shy together. You get Lionheart.
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin
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