BAD BARON – Ace Of Hearts (2022)

BAD BARON - Ace Of Hearts (2022) HQ - full

A quick look at the cover art and you might be tempted to assume that you’ve come across yet another Scandinavian sleaze rock band, following a path well-trodden over the past few years by bands like Crashdïet, Santa Cruz and Reckless Love. But you’d be wrong.
BAD BARON, hailing from the metal mecca of Finland, do things a little differently on their upcoming album ”Ace Of Hearts”. All over 13 lovely tracks, Bad Baron proves again and again that feel-good music isn’t dead – and they can take all the best parts from the golden age of rock music, wrap them up in an exhilarating hook filled package, and fearlessly cast it out into a world that never truly stopped loving yesteryear’s rock titans.
Leading the band on vocals and bass is 2020 Voice of Finland contestant Lauri Huovinen, who cut his teeth playing in bands in the wintry northern city of Oulu. Guitarist Tommy Widdow and British keyboardist Alex Kron bring the pulsating riffs, vintage synths, and face melting solos, while Sammy South keeps the beat with the (very) occasional drum solo.
‘I’m a massive fan of the AOR and glam metal that came out of the 80s,’ says Lauri ’Whitesnake, Journey, Mötley Crüe and so on, so it was amazing to find people who want to keep that flame burning in a time where rock musicians have to try harder than ever to cut through.’

The album couldn’t have had a more catchy start than ‘Edge of Our Dreams’, where the AOR keys by Alex will take you back to the ’80s while Lauri fires his Bret Michaels-inspired vocals and Tommy kicks some ass with his old school riffs and crisp solos.
The Dare/Strangeways-ish keys walk hand in hand with the headbanging beats by Sammy in ‘Can You Love Someone (For Just One Night)’, perfect for their upcoming live concerts, whereas keeping the atmosphere as thrilling as possible it’s time for a straight-forward Melodic Rock tune titled ‘Breakdown In Communication’, where once again the quartet is ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow.

‘Hungry’ brings forward a mix of Scandinavian melodic rock + Hair Metal, being tailored for singing it along with Lauri, however mid-section turns AOR with nice synths atmospheres.
‘Rebel Heartache’ is an anthem with some H.E.A.T on it showcasing another solid job done by Tommy and Alex with their respective guitar riffs and keys. After such fun party, get ready to rock together with those Finnish boys in the incendiary ‘Lights Go Out’, displaying a very pleasant “action movie” vibe.

After the brief ‘Interlude’ – midway the album, almost inviting you to flip the LP to Side B – the band offers our ears the very melodic ‘Our Story Isn’t Over’, a midpaced AOR classic ’80s semi-ballad driven by a rumbling bass with Lauri being flawless on vocals supported by his bandmates’ spot-on backing vocals.
‘Going Down In Flames’ adds a little electronics and a sleazy touch bringing to mind early Reckless Love, it’s quite different song than the rest and welcomed.

Next, an amazing bass and keys mix in the opening bars will inspire you to raise your fists in the air in the name of Rock N’ Roll in ‘Rock In The City’, presenting all elements we love from the genre, whereas although ‘One Minute To Midnight’ lives up to the legacy of 80s Hair Metal, and you better get ready to sing along its catchy chorus together with the band while Tommy is on fire with his stringed axe.

Penultimate song is the power ballad ‘Long Road Home’, sonically completely different than the rest. It’s mostly driven by acoustic guitars, then electricity enters and again Poison circa 1990 brings to mind.
Last track title ‘Anthem For Rock’n’Roll’ speaks for itself: it’s a melodic rocker made for the arenas, catchy and for sure a winner when performed live. It has a Wig Wam feeling , and it’s fun.

Bad Baron takes the best from ’80s AOR, Scandinavian Melodic Rock and some hair metal to create the nostalgic, but for us, awesome collection of songs that is “Ace Of Hearts”. After their very cool EP debut, this full length represents more than just the first step in their promising career but an amazing addition to the Finnish rock front.
Eighties maniacs, you need this one.
HIGHLY Recommended


01 – Edge Of Our Dreams
02 – Can You Love Someone (For Just One Night)
03 – Breakdown In Communication
04 – Hungry
05 – Rebel Heartache
06 – Lights Go Out
07 – Interlude
08 – Our Story Isn’t Over
09 – Going Down In Flames
10 – Rock In The City
11 – One Minute To Midnight
12 – Long Road Home
13 – Anthem For Rock’n’Roll

Vocals & Bass – Lauri Huovinen
Guitar – Tommy Widdow
Keys – Alex Kron
Drums – Sammy South


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