FM - Heroes and Villains (Frontiers Music)

It's hard to believe, but after 30 years FM still get better and better...
Release Date: 
16 Apr 2015 - 11:30pm

UK hard rock veterans FM return to the fray with their ninth studio album – and it’s an absolute cracker.

Chunky, bluesy riffs proliferate, bringing to mind the pre-hair metal glory days of Whitesnake or a more commercially-minded Free, whilst the ever-captivating vocals of Steve Overland – surely the most underrated throat in rock – rule the roost with a self-assured, highly impressive performance on the likes of radio friendly anthems like Digging Up the Dirt and heavier, more rockular pieces like Fire and Rain alike. 

FM are absolute masters of their art, and here they’ve crafted a near-perfect set of tunes that really will bring together all comers to worship at their altar; sure, they’ve got the hard rock down pat, but the balladic Incredible could easily appear on albums by country practitioners such as Brad Paisley or Keith Urban, whilst fans of the great rock voices like Rod Stewart or Steve Marriott will also find much to wrap themselves up in in the faultless performance of Overland.

FM in their original incarnation provided Michael Bolton with his backup band the first time the man with two haircuts came to play a UK showcase in the mid eighties, and, though they plough a much heavier furrow than Mr Bolotin, their shared interest in weaving elements of rock, country and soul into one irresistible package makes them kindred spirits to a certain extent; Certainly fans of Bolton’s early hard rock incarnation will find it hard  not to love much of what's on offer here - in particular the aforementioned Fire and Rain, a marvellous piece of strutting, stately and very glorious hard rock that Bolton would have eaten alive in his Blackjack days. 

Whilst it’s true that the band has drifted into ever blusier, more soulful pastures over the years, there are harkenings back to their AOR glory days on the likes of Life is a Highway, a fabulous song that wouldn’t have looked out of place on either of the bands’ first two albums (1986’s titanic Indiscreet and 1989’s Desmond Child-involving Tough it Out). The riffily anthemic Cold Hearted has a similar 'classic' feel to it. 

In short: timeless brilliance for people who know a good thing when they hear it, and a must-have album for fans of finely-crafted, artisan hard rock everywhere.