The Heavy Hurt And The Merciless on LP + Download
Whilst making their fourth album, The Heavy went through some dark times. There was divorce, near break-ups and the hurdles of everyday life. It all feeds into the Bath quartet's most exhilarating record yet. "We attack all of these things," says frontman Kelvin Swaby, "and the only way we know how to do that is by writing incredible music." Hurt & The Merciless is the sound of a thrilling rock 'n' roll band fighting back. Swaby, guitarist Dan Taylor, bassist Spencer Page and drummer Chris Ellul wanted the album to capture the powerful blasts of their live show.
That life-affirming spark of rock 'n' roll when anything feels possible is the feeling that sums up The Heavy's new record. If Hurt & The Merciless marks a musical culmination for the quartet, a mesmeric blend of their trademark rock 'n' roll classicism and funk and soul grooves with added sonic experimentation, it's also a personal marker in the band. The sweeping groove of "Since You Been Gone" came to Swaby as he sat on a tour bus in America contemplating his break-up. He imagined it as a Motown song until Taylor put some dirty guitar on top.
Other tracks, such as the spiky garage-rock anthem "What Happened To The Love?," came together in a whirl of adrenaline. "We banged it out! That's the best song for me because it was effortless," says Taylor. The gospel-flecked "Goodbye Baby" was inspired by Taylor's own personal crisis during a US tour, whilst the Morricone-style glide of "Nobody's Hero" and thumping blues-rock of "Slave To Your Love" are the guitarist's odes to fatherhood. The mariachi-tinged "Miss California," meanwhile, is the story of a faded beauty queen. The live feel of its recording set the tone for the rest of the record.
"The Heavy is a fragile beast but it's a fragile beast that the four of us understand," says Swaby. "The band has always been about taking the best part of our influences and making it work. We've become really good alchemists to figure out exactly what we need." Everything they've done over the past decade feels like it has been leading to this point. They've mixed the lightning bolts of their live show with a batch of their strongest songs yet. It's the best they've ever sounded.