Finding a band photo of Less Than 4 for this review left me remarking, 'Cripes! These dudes look young." Well, that's because they are. Vocalist and guitarist Max Landegren and bassist Stefan Westlund were barely entering puberty when they formed the band; now they're 18 and 19, respectively. Add this: their drummer, Ludwig Tornemalm, is only 15.
Despite their youth, Less Than 4 shows more than a little maturity in songwriting and musicianship. Their chosen sound is basically Eighties hard rock, melodic yet with the sleaze angle. They're in the same category with fellow Scandinavian peers like Hardcore Superstar, Veins of Jenna, or Backyard Babies, except the pull it off with just three players.
Across the album, the songs blend some true punk rawness with heavier hard rock, without skipping the groove or forgetting the importance of melody. Landegren has that coarse throaty style that normally comes from an older rocker who has already drank his fill of whiskey. The music has punch, basically full throttle from the start. Also, Landegren is no slouch with the six-string wither as his solos are prominent and piercing. Amidst of all this blistering hard rock, LT4 easily blends accessible hooks and catchy choruses. In It For the Money, By Blood By Heart, and Living Dreams are some of the best examples.
While this is all rather impressive, Less Than 4 faces the potential dilemma of sounding too familiar by the end of the album. There's certainly some variation hear, but by the halfway point you know what you're going to get to the end. The challenge for the next album will be to overcome predictability and develop their signature sound against their peers. Nevertheless, By Blood By Heart is strong debut from such a young band. Hopefully, the debauchery of the rock lifestyle and the perils of the road will not hinder their growth. Recommended.