German band Jaded Heart have a storied history since coming to formation in 1990 thanks to brothers Michael (Redrum, ex-Bonfire, ex-Letter X, Zeno, Silent Force among others) and Dirk Bormann. The brothers were joined by Michael Müller on bass (ex-The Sygnet) and ex-Mad Max drummer Axel Kruse to complete the original lineup which would see their debut album, Inside Out, issued in 1994. Inside Out was followed by ’96’s Slaves and Masters which featured guest guitar work by Alex Beyrodt (Sinner, Level 10, Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle). More albums followed with Mystery Eyes (1996), IV (1999), The Journey Will Never End (2002) and Trust (2004) before Michael Bormann was fired from the band (Dirk had long ago moved on). 2005 saw the Helluva Time album surface with Johan Fahlberg now handling vocals. A few more roster changes took place but the band issued the albums Perfect Insanity (2009) and Common Destiny (2012), a DVD in 2013 and Fight the System (2014). Fight the System was reviewed for Decibel Geek by Mikael “The Lionsheart” Svensson: Fighting the System with a Jaded Heart.
Jaded Heart surges forward, hot on the heels of Fight the System, with their latest effort, Guilty By Design, set for release on June 10 from Massacre Records. The roster for Guilty By Design sees the same crew as Fight the System with Johan Fahlberg on vocals, guitarists Peter Östros and Masahiro Eto, Michael Müller on bass and Bodo Stricker on drums. Bassist Michael Müller is the only member remaining from the 1994 Inside Out debut record.
The first thing that I noticed about the album is the cover artwork. I’m an album guy and I feel that the cover art is a big part of the album experience as well. Guilty By Design‘s cover by Thomas Ewerhard originally drew in my head a stark parallel to Sister Sin‘s 2012 output Dance of the Wicked, but on closer reflection it’s not the same at all. Guilty By Design has been mixed and mastered by Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T., Nordic Union) and leads out showcasing their fiery hunger with the power charged “No Reason” which is sure to be a live hit. “Godforsaken” bludgeons you out of the gates with a chugging riff while “Seven Gates of Hell” begins with some great vocal melodies before getting down and dirty. The slower paced ballady style of “Remembering” although a little catchy could be skipped over (to be fair I’m not a ballady/slower-paced kinda guy), but “Rescue Me” simply shines. I couldn’t pick a better track from this collection for the lead single and first video (seen below) release myself! After that, it’s into “Salvation” promoted as “the band’s heaviest song to date”, certainly a plodding headbangers delight. “No Waiting for Tomorrow” is yet another fantastic composition full of energy and Guilty By Design carries on from there delivering one hard rock anthem after another. With 14 songs on Guilty By Design, not one under the four-minute mark, this is a lengthy listen, chock full of assaulting yet inventive riffs, soaring vocal melodies and groovy, catchy bass lines and drum beats.
Jaded Heart seem to have really hit their stride with these last two albums and showing no signs of slowing down. I recommend this album to all fans of melodic metal and don’t be afraid to delve further back in Jaded Heart‘s 12 album catalog as there’s tons of great rock post and pre-Bormann to be discovered.