The Heavy have announced their brand-new album AMEN out on April 21st and available to pre-order now here. Marking the announcement, they have unleashed the first taste of the record with new single ‘Hurricane Coming’.
Tearing through like a buzz funk tornado, ‘Hurricane Coming’ kicks the door down on the new era of The Heavy, opening their sixth album with an exhilarating maelstrom of ‘60s R&B riffs, horns and gospel harmonies.
It has been inspired by frontman Kelvin Swaby being caught up in Hurricane Irma soon after moving to the US. “The power of that, and it only touched us at, like, a one,” he recalls. “It’s just the way that relationships are as well. It was like ‘just be careful of taking something beautiful for granted.’ Don’t take people for fools. There’s always something waiting, lurking, even…”
With Daniel Taylor (guitar), Spencer Page (bass) and Chris Ellul (drums) remaining in the UK, the trans-Atlantic four-piece are embedded deep into Western pop culture. Their inescapable back catalogue has made them mainstays of modern radio, TV, cinema and gaming which is, subconsciously or not, familiar to millions and has knocked Mark Wahlberg for six, swept Obama to a second term and battered at the winter cabin windows of Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight along the way.
Their corrupted R&B power is unstoppable and, revived to full blast from the pandemic lull, they’re hurtling into 2023, whipping and writhing with seditious blues drama, soul and gospel passion, the crunch of prime hip-hop and garage punk’s visceral electricity pulsating through AMEN.
Elsewhere on the new album there’s the grimy swamp glam of ‘Bad Muthafucker’ and gnarled roadhouse rocker ‘Stone Cold Killer’ (about Dan’s new kitten – “that beautiful thing kills everything”) that bristle with the same untamed energies, inspired by Dan’s recent submersion into the YouTube channel of Alan Lomax’s classic field recordings, while AMEN has further broad stylistic sermons to preach.
‘I Feel The Love’ jumps with the Pentecostal pop fever full of Mississippi heat. ‘Ain’t A Love’ tells the story of a deceitful old flame returning to town in dark, lumbering tones akin to a Morricone carnival. ‘Messin’ With My Mind’ imagines The Stranglers as a bunch of ragged Southern shack shakers. And ‘Whole Lot Of Me’, ‘Feels Like Rain’ and ‘Without A Woman’ evoke the string-drenched classic soul of Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield with a sly modern crackle.
If much of the album finds Kelvin dredging the murkier depths of the romantic experience, there are hints of wider turmoil too. “I think we write very, very ambiguous songs that can be for a number of situations,” says Kelvin. “We’ve tackled that but there’s other shit going on in ‘Just Like Summer’ as well, and throughout the whole of the record. It’s not just a relationship with your partner, it’s an environmental relationship, how we’re being looked after. There are so many divisions being sewn across the planet. There’s so much ‘truth’ that’s not truth. They’ll sell us all shit and we’re assuming that it’s gold. We have voices.”
The Heavy are every bit as revitalised as AMEN sounds. “We’ve honed our craft,” says Chris, “we’re just better at what we do.” “It feels like a step-up,” Kelvin adds. “It feels like all of the songs are insane. There’s no filler at all.” He cites the merging of two separate ideas – one his, one Dan’s – to make ‘Without A Woman’ as evidence of the band’s natural magic. “That kind of shit is why we are the band that we are, because we can do that. We could be an ocean apart, but we still have this spark. It’s just there.”
The album was recorded at Rockfield Studios, produced with Tchad Blake (The Black Keys, U2) and engineered with Real World Studios’ Joe Jones. The songs were written during sessions in Florida at the end of their 2019 US tour and demoed when Kelvin visited the UK in February 2020.
As Rockfield Studios began to re-open in 2021 The Heavy snatched sessions where they could throughout the year, with Kelvin recording his vocals remotely in the US and the band “keen to be able to try and have everything based around the live performance”, recording live takes in the UK with Little Barrie’s Barrie Cadogan and the band’s on-stage keyboardist Toby McLaren filling out the sound. When possible, Dan travelled to Columbus, Ohio to record the voices of The Heavy’s regular gospel choir and by February 2022 AMEN was complete and ready for release whenever touring became viable again – i.e., early 2023.
Now 2023 is upon us, The Heavy return with the dials set to soul force 10. Their blistering new record is primed to get the airwaves and venues pumping this year once again. With the new music reveal today the band have also announced headline tour dates for 2023. They will kick things off with two intimate UK shows in March, playing London’s Oslo on the 21st followed by The Fleece in Bristol the following day. They will then return for a full tour in September across the UK and Europe.