Various Artists

Heart of Metal, Vol. 2

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Like its predecessor, Heart of Metal, Vol. 2 styles itself as a compilation of heavy metal love songs, though in practice it's got much more album-oriented rock and arena rock than true pop-metal balladry. Regardless of whether the bands fit headbanger criteria, though, they rock hard enough to make most of the material fit together quite well. There are a couple of flaws, however. With a love-song theme, you'd expect Heart of Metal 2 to be all power ballads, but it isn't -- there are a few mid-tempo rockers here as well, which kind of breaks the mood (and Extreme's "Rest in Peace," while it is an overlooked gem, isn't even a love song). More importantly, though, the compilation is weighted down with entries from too many second- and third-tier acts. There are some immediately recognizable hits -- Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again," Nelson's "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection," Tesla's "Love Song," Sheriff's "When I'm With You" -- but some of the other tracks are lesser-known items by prominent artists, and some just never managed to distinguish themselves all that much. So, in the end, Heart of Metal, Vol. 2 is a decent collection, but not much more.

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