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Metal Talk


Proving that the Americans do not have a monopoly on AOR, bands from this side of the pond certainly had the songwriting and musical firepower to compete with anything on the other side of the Atlantic. Alongside the mighty FM, London rockers Lionheart have claimed to be our finest exports in the field. With both still producing world-class new material, there is much to celebrate and be thankful for. Now hitting a real renaissance, Lionheart have produced a string of acclaimed albums. Their new album, Grace Of A Dragonfly, certainly ranks amongst the finest the quintet has produced.

With a line-up of Dennis Stratton and Steve Mann on guitars, Clive Edwards on drums, Rocky Newton on bass and vocalist Lee Small, the 2023 version of the band is a sleek and powerful thing, the pedigree of its various members coming from Iron Maiden, UFO, MSG, Sweet and Shy amongst others. 

Bringing all that weight to bear, Grace Of A Dragonfly is a hefty slice of melodic hard rock and this time, they have pushed themselves even further. 

The album is a theme, rather than a concept album, set around the Second World War. “None of us have ever done a concept album before,” Steve Mann said in Part Two of an interview with MetalTalk. “I was just thinking, how can we take a step forward with this album from The Reality Of Miracles? I came up with the idea of doing a concept album, but it’s turned out to be a themed album.”

It’s an ambitious piece, the tight structuring of a central narrative a bold thing to pull off and the temptation to shoehorn in ideas to fit the rhythms of the music one that can certainly have its pitfalls. But there’s an obvious love and respect for the subject matter here, and it all hangs together with a fluid grace.

Grandstanding opener Declaration kicks things off with a bang, the riffs, hooks and vocal harmonies making a sledgehammer impression, wrapped in a velvet glove. 

With the twin guitars of Stratton and Mann working with well-oiled ease as they slip between harmonies and trading solos, the impassioned vocals of Small add an emotion that stays just the right side of drama to sell the stories. 

Numbers like Flight 19 and The Longest Night come alive at the subtle touches here, and driving rocker V Is For Victory displays Lionheart at their fist-pumping best, the Edwards / Newton team bringing the power of a Rolls Royce engine to the mix.

The story arc is bolstered by a broader view, its common themes crossing borders and eras that can still be felt today. This is what makes it so human and compelling. With the microcosm of This Is A Woman’s World and Just A Man reaching far further into the hearts of those at war, the material shows the soul at the heart of the chaotic bombast that goes with conflict.

Adrenaline-soaked, heart-wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, Lionheart has truly put their reputation on the line here and pulled it off with amazing dignity and power. It’s not just a great release but an early contender for Album Of 2024.

  Paul Monkhouse, Metal Talk. 9-2-24



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