Heaven: Best of Ballads, Pt. 2

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Released just two months after lead singer Steve Lee's fatal motorcycle accident in Nevada, Swiss rock act Gotthard's third major compilation, Heaven: Best of Ballads, Pt. 2 is a chance to hear the sandpaper-voiced rock icon at his best. While the Lugano-based four-piece are primarily known for their blend of hair metal and heavy rock, it's their more melodic and radio-friendly output which has helped them to sell a staggering one million albums in their eight-million-person homeland. Proving the point, this 17-track collection which, as its name suggests, focuses entirely on their ballads, is the second such release in seven years, following 2002's One Life, One Soul. This updated version shares two songs with its predecessor (2000 chart-topper "Heaven" and 1996 single "One Life One Soul"), but apart from 1997 festive track "Merry Christmas," this is more concerned with material from their subsequent four studio albums. A live piano-based performance of the Aerosmith-esque "Have a Little Faith" is the only inclusion from 2003's Human Zoo, but four songs appear from 2005 follow-up Lipservice, including the country-fused "Nothing Left at All" and the theatrical, Meat Loaf-inspired "I've Seen an Angel Cry," while there are five contributions from 2007's Domino Effect, the best of which are the special acoustic version of "Falling" and "Tomorrow's Just Begun" which fully allows Lee to unleash his Brian Johnson-influenced impassioned and gritty vocal tones. The three additions from their unplanned swan song, 2009's Need to Believe ("Unconditional Faith," "Don't Let Me Down," and the title track) and the sole new composition, "What I Am," suggests the band were never going to shift from their trademark ‘lighters in the air' power ballad formula. But even though Heaven: Best of Ballads, Pt. 2 offers little variation on the sound which the likes of the Scorpions perfected 20 years earlier, it's a solid and enjoyably bombastic compilation which serves as a fine tribute to the talents of Switzerland's King of Rock.

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