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Metal talk
O2 ABC 2, Glasgow
27th June 2014

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

heaven and earth

M.ill.ion are a Swedish five piece melodic hard rock band who seem to have been around forever. Out on tour to support their seventh full album release, 'Sane And Insanity', they hit the stage at a very sparsely populated ABC 2 and decided that the best response to such a poor turnout is to rock even harder than usual.

These enthusiastic Swedes specialise in the kind of radio friendly singalong melodic hard rock heard in the late eighties and early nineties and are unashamedly a good time party kind of band. Working hard to engage the people in the room and generate some atmosphere they power through a succession of songs full of nice melodic touches from the keyboards and guitars but driven along in fine style by a tight rhythm section.

Front man Ulrich Carlsson's vocals are strong and on point and his patter may be a bit cliched but he deserves credit for working so hard to draw the audience in.

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To be honest I'm not sure how strong any of the songs were and maybe the likes of 'Rock And Roll Nation' won't sound so good laid bare for examination on album but they were good enough tonight that I will check the albums out and I don't think I'm alone in that view.

Heaven And Earth are an LA based five piece band who declare that they want to revive the spirit of classic rock and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Deep Purple and Bad Company in bringing old school rock to the masses. Backed by some strong promotion they have come to tour the homeland of their rock heroes for the first time, boldly headlining on their first attempt. Judging by tonight's less than stellar turnout this strategy has backfired somewhat but that in the end is about the process, what about the important bit, the content?

heaven and earth

Striding onto the stage in confident mood they ignore the size of the crowd and launch into the epic sounding 'Victorious' from their latest album 'Dig'. Immediately the intent is clear, it's about a classic sound. With the Hammond organ style keyboards and guitar flourishes Rainbow and Deep Purple are brought to mind not for the last time tonight. Singer Joe Retta doesn't look like your typical rock frontman, especially with the tartan 'bunnet' he is sporting for the occasion but he has a fine set of pipes and effortlessly hits all the right old school rock notes.

The first part of the set leans heavily on 'Dig' with 'No Money, No Love' sounding impressive and enjoyable but like something off a Mark 2 Deep Purple reunion album at the same time. 'Man & Machine' is a more uptempo hard rocker and much heavier than on album. It allows drummer Jackie Barnes the leeway to show his power and he drives the song forward in fine style.

heaven and earth

I hadn't been aware until this gig that he'd joined the band. Last time I saw Jackie play live was behind his dad, Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes! I'd say he plays like his dad sings, plenty of talent but full on almost all the time, no slacking!

The middle of the set contained some older material and I thought the song quality dropped a bit although the musicianship never did. Guitarist Stuart Smith shows off some fine playing in the likes of 'Grave Kept Clean' but he looks and sounds like such a Ritchie Blackmore clone he needs to watch he doesn't slide into parody.

heaven and earth

For me he is a fine player and Blackmore is definitely someone worth emulating but maybe he could try to look a little less like the man in black in his heyday. The solo in 'Waiting For The End Of The World' when they returned to 'Dig' material was excellent though.

The Deep Purple analogy continued when they chose to cover 'When A Blind Man Cries' but for me they missed the spirit of the song. Purple were certainly often bombastic and over the top but this song is one of their beautiful introspective moments. Unfortunately the Heaven And Earth version is more over the top and the vocal and guitar histrionics didn't really work for me.

heaven and earth

The rest of the main set then kind of spluttered a bit with acoustic led rocker 'Good Times' not really working in the live environment. However 'Rock And Roll Does' got back to their default position of musicians crafting something with melody which also rocks and the small crowd were certainly impressed enough to bring them back for more.

Encore time was an excuse for another cover, this time of Free's 'Mr. Big'. It was a nice tribute to another of their hero bands but again I thought they missed the feel of the original and overpowered the song.

heaven and earth

Heaven And Earth have a lot going for them, great musicianship, a fine live sound and presence and I liked the way they faced up to an underwhelming attendance and played like there were thousands of people in front of them.

In my opinion they need to be a little less derivative and work on writing more songs as strong as about half of 'Dig' is but overall they are definitely worth checking out if old school hard rock is your thing.

heaven and earth

M'ill.ion online:

Heaven And Earth line up:
Joe Retta : Vocals
Stuart Smith: Guitar
Lynn Sorensen : Bass
Jackie Barnes : Drums
Ty Bailie : Keyboards

Heaven And Earth online: UCb1IN4U5DcbiD17f6Z10KHw


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Heaven And Earth

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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