Published on November 27th, 2019 | by Justin G.
Lionsheart: Heart Of The Lion Box Set (Dissonance Productions, 2019)
After the NWOBHM heyday and the classic Grim Reaper run, vocalist Steve Grimmett set his sights on a different kind of music in the early 1990s. Alongside the Owers brothers (guitarist Mark and bassist Steve, formerly of British AOR band Fury), keyboardist Graham Collett and drummer Anthony Christmas, he launched Lionsheart, a band more in line with the melodic hard rock sound that dominated airwaves at the time. The lineup changed from album to album, but the approach – essentially Steve Grimmett doing Whitesnake-style bluesy melodic hard rock – never changed. Their self-titled debut and follow-up Pride In Tact are absolute gems, showcasing Grimmett’s range and versatility, and their later efforts are solid as well.
Lionsheart saw some limited early success, especially in Japan, but as many bands soon learned, the 1990s were not the best time to make a career out of melodic rock. Grunge rolled in, and Lionsheart was put on ice aside from the occasional comeback release. The band released four studio albums and one live album, all of which are collected here in the new Heart Of The Lion set. Here’s what it does (and doesn’t) contain:
Disc 1 is the full 1993 Lionsheart album. It includes the bonus track “In The Night” that was previously exclusive to the Japanese CD release.
Disc 2 is the 1994 album Pride In Tact. It is, unfortunately, missing the Japanese bonus track “Love Won’t Bring Me Down.”
Disc 3 is the 1998 album Under Fire. It does not include the Japanese bonus track “Lost In Tokyo.”
Disc 4 is the full 2002 release Rising Sons – Live In Japan 1993. It’s a fun live set that mixes in some Grim Reaper classics. No missing bonus tracks here since there weren’t any to begin with.
Disc 5 is the 2004 album Abyss, which is the final Lionsheart album (to date, at least). Once again we’re missing the Japanese exclusive bonus track “Only When I Sleep.”
All of the albums in this set have been newly remastered, which is a plus. The sonic upgrade isn’t anything drastic, but it does clean things up a bit and puts all of the albums on the same level.
The packaging on Heart Of The Lion is compact and solid. The set comes in one of those old school thick as a brick double-jewel cases, with swing-out trays to hold all five discs and the booklet. It’s kind of surprising how well everything fits, and it’s great not to see those slim cardboard sleeves like most budget box sets rely on.
The price tag for this set is in the $25-30 range, which is entirely reasonable considering just how much you get here (and when you price compare the individual out-of-print Lionsheart releases. It’s more than worth the price of admission just for the cleaned-up Lionsheart and Pride In Tact albums. You can consider the other three discs a bonus.
If it wasn’t for the three missing bonus tracks, Heart Of The Lion would be a perfect set. There’s literally no reason for them to have left those tracks off, and every reason to include them. It’s extremely frustrating for serious collectors (a.k.a those of us who would buy this material for the second time), and takes some of the shine off an otherwise really nice collection.
This set still comes highly recommended for fans of Grimmett’s other work who have yet to discover Lionsheart, as well as fans of the early ‘90s melodic hard rock sound in general.
Summary: Dammit, where are the bonus tracks?