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HARDLINE Leaving The End Open Frontiers (2009)


A third album in 17 years for Hardline, but now only vocalist Johnny Gioeli remains from the line up that recorded their 1992 classic Double Eclipse, enlivened by some angry riffs from Neal Schon fresh from an acrimonious split with Bad English. Indeed in the seven years since the follow-up 'II', Johnny's brother and founder member Joey also seems to have jumped ship although former Storm/Two Fires guitarist Josh Ramos remains.

Though it may be unfair, Double Eclipse remains a millstone around the band's neck. It has to be said that its beefy riffs and strong choruses are not much in evidence here. The album is certainly diverse, with a few moodier, atmospheric pieces including the fine opener Visions, a couple more modern sounding tracks, and a smattering of dreamy ballads of which Start Again stood out. However the 2009 version of Hardline seem to be struggling for an identity and matters are not helped by an at times cluttered production and by a disappointing absence of memorable hooks, Before This coming closest.

On a brighter note, Gioeli's vocals remain excellent while the last two numbers, the slightly progressive Hole in My Head and the title track, a Styx-esque ballad, are mini epics that take a while to get to the boil but patience is rewarded. However, a rather disjointed album is at best a slow burner and at worst a disappointment.


Review by Andy Nathan

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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