Howard Leese
Secret Weapon
Style: Rock
Release date: July 3rd 2009

There’s no need to drag this out, so I’ll get straight to the point. Howard Leese spent 22 years as a guitarist (among other things) in the rather successful band Heart for whom he also produced a number of albums. Leese has now produced his first solo album … and there isn’t one ounce of metal in it. This is quiet blues rock mixed with pleasant ballads and the occasional restrained guitar solo.

Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but Secret Weapon really doesn’t fit within the scope of music that is reviewed on this site. The opening track ‘Alive Again’ sounds most of all like Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ from 1986, while ‘Hot To Cold’ (which might have been a Bad Company track) is quite a fine rocker and probably the highlight of the album. The second track, ‘Heal the Broken Hearted’, takes us way closer to Gerry Rafferty than the world of rock, and The blues rockers ‘The South Summit’ and ‘I’ve Been Leavin’ You’ feature some nice soloing, but it's still nowhere near the molten metal leads that we get from blues rockers like Lance Lopez, Blindstone Blues Band or Sven Cirnski’s Truth.

All in all, Howard Leese’s first solo effort is one big hodge-podge of styles ranging from the piano piece ‘French Quarter’ and the west coast tasting ’33 West Street’ to pop ballads like ‘The Vine’, ‘In These Eyes’ and ‘Vermillion Border’. It’s all well executed, but as I said, it has nothing to do with metal and will therefore receive no rating. I will say, however, that most of the tracks strike me as quite bland and uninteresting. If you like 70s stuff, blues or west coast go for the real thing instead of this stunted mixture of styles.

01. Alive Again
02. Heal the Broken Hearted
03. Hot To Cold
04. French Quarter
05. 33 West Street
06. The South Summit
07. Rada's Theme
08. The Vine
09. In These Eyes
10. Vermillion Border
11. I've Been Leavin' You
12. Somewhere
Label: Frontiers Records
Promotion: Zink Music
Distribution: Bonnier/Amigo (Denmark)
Artwork rating: 40/100
Reviewed by: Martin Mathiasen
Date: June 22nd 2009