THE MEMBERS of Heart describe "Brigade" as a return to their hard-rocking roots after two albums of stultifyingly glossy hard-pop. That's not entirely untrue, but "Brigade" could never be confused with an early Heart album.

The band is still relying heavily on outside songwriters -- including such hacks as Diane Warren, Holly Knight, Billy Steinberg and Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar -- and most of these songs are as formulaic as anything on the slick, soulless and commercially successful "Heart" and "Bad Animals," the quintet's previous albums. Even so "personal" a song as "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" -- which lead singer Ann Wilson describes as demonstrating a "real aggressive sexuality" -- was written by an outsider (and a man), Def Leppard producer Mutt Lange.

Things do get bloozy on such songs as "Tall, Dark Handsome Stranger" and "Call of the Wild," one of two song titles to include the word "wild." But the mostly tame "Brigade" is still heavily weighted toward the sort of power ballads that made the previous albums so amenable to Top 40 radio; a few looser Howard Leese guitar solos hardly constitute a change of Heart.


"Brigade" (Capitol). Appearing Saturday with Giant at Merriweather Post Pavilion.