Tuesday, May 15, 2012

HARDLINE: "Danger Zone"

Rating: 9 /10
Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Vocalist Johnny Gioeli has once again revived HARDLINE. "Danger Zone" is the band's fourth album with its' fourth recording line-up. Johnny himself is the sole remaining member of the original band, that featured his brother Joey and Neal Schon (Journey) on guitar, Todd Jansen on bass and current Journey drummer Deen Castronovo. On the new album, the band consists of European musicians Alessandro Del Vecchio (keyboards), Thorsten Koehne (guitar), Anna Portalupi (bass) and Francesco Jovino (drums).

With Del Vecchio contributing heavily to the songwriting, some have said that the band has more of an "European" sound now. I don't know about that, but the most of the modern rock leanings of the previous album have been ditched in favour of more of a traditional melodic hard rock sound. I did like "Leaving The End Open", but I prefer this style.

I have no specific info on who actually wrote what, but I can tell you that there are a few real gems on the album. The opening double-punch of "Fever Dreams" and "10.000 Reasons" will have most melodic rock fans gasping for air, they're both superb melodic rockers with massive choruses. The thumping title track is a good one too, although not in the same league as the previous two track. "What I'd Like" has an air of familiarity to it, it's a breezy rocker very much in the vein of Yngwie Malmsteen's "Heaven Tonight". "Stronger Than Me" is one of the tracks I like less, a ballad with a contemporary sound and a slightly boring hook.

Next up is a familiar song, "Never Too Late For Love" which has previously been recorded by Phil Bardowell. It's one of my favourite tracks of the last few years, and Hardline do it justice. "Stay" is a good, melodic track too with a great build-up to the chorus, which itself could have been stronger though. The repetitive "I Don't Wanna Break Away" I could've done without, it's clearly the weakest track on the album.

"Look At You Now" features a nice melody and a cool, relaxed vocal from Johnny. It's followed by the AOR Monster that is "Please Have Faith In Me", which is just dripping with melody. Yes, it's one of my favourites here! "Show Me Your Love" sounds remarkably like Talisman to these ears, but that's not a bad thing. The album is closed with the metallic "The Only One", which is the one track that fans of Johnny's work with Axel Rudi Pell might enjoy the most.

A big thumbs up for everyone involved in creating "Danger Zone", it's an album that can proudly stand alongside the classic debut. It may be a bit different, but the essence of Hardline is still there.

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