You may not have heard of The Heavy, but you’ve almost certainly heard their music before. Their 2009 single “How You Like Me Now?” has made countless appearances across film, TV and video games, including Community, Borderlands 2, Ted and Entourage. Other songs, like “Short Change Hero” and “What Makes a Good Man?” feature on screen as well. If there’s anything The Heavy has learned since their founding in 2007, it’s how to make a damn good needle drop.
Amen is the band’s first album in four years, following 2019’s Sons. It features 10 songs, with a run time of just over 34 minutes. Some are slower, some are faster, some are mellow, some are angry, but all of them are chock-full of soul.
The album starts with “Hurricane Coming,” a triumphant announcement of what’s to come. Kelvin Swaby’s vocals are commanding and charismatic – when he says, “you better watch out / you better look out / you better watch out / it’s picking up the pace and it ain’t afraid of nothing,” I’m inclined to believe him. It’s the perfect opening to an album that continues The Heavy’s streak of cinema-certified songs – I can imagine the song playing during some epic confrontation between the hero and villain in an action flick, for example.
A personal favorite from the album is “Messing With My Mind.” Swaby’s delivery of the refrain “time after time after time / always messing with my mind” is infectious; I can’t help but sing and nod along with that part even if I don’t know any of the other lyrics. In a film, I’d place this song in a chase sequence with a frenetic rhythm, similar to the back and forth of the song.
“Stone Cold Killer” ironically manages to be the warmest. It’s fun, upbeat (it has a cowbell!) and playful. The song gives me beach scene vibes – a great juxtaposition to the lyrics “you’re like a stone cold killer / you’re cold as ice / you’re like a stone cold killer / you don’t think twice,” which seem like they would belong to something dourer. The band’s experimentation with tonality in its titles and lyrics is a great element of this album that helps it stand out among its contemporaries.
The album ends with “Without a Woman” – perfect for Mother’s Day (May 14! Mark your calendars before it’s too late!). This celebration manages to feel authentic and heartfelt – maybe a surprise coming from an all-guy band. The song’s violin-powered opening carries beautifully into Swaby’s passionate lyrics. “Mama, sister, daughter, wife / possess everything we need to be more,” he says, and he’s damn right. The song is the “amen” of the album, which doesn’t have a song of the same name. I would set the track to a girlbossing montage (I Care A Lot, anyone?), a sweet mother-son scene or before powerful, reflective end credits. In any case, the song is a wake-up call for men – hold on, let me text my mom real quick.