Monday, October 3, 2016

Album Review: Hardline - Human Nature

Sometimes I have to take a step back and remember what year I'm living in. I'm not complaining in the slightest, but it is amazing to me how many bands from yesteryear have come roaring back to life in recent times. Several of them have done so to school the bland imitators that have sprung up in the meantime, but there are times when I'll look through the music news and have to remind myself that it's actually 2016. Hardline has been back for a while now, but they fall into this category of band that had a flash of success long ago, and are now trying to recapture that feeling. They have the right pieces on board to do so, but it's hard to gain traction for a project that's been around this long. Can they do it?

Hardline has two things going for them. They have singer Johnny Gioeli's huge voice to lead them, and they have Frontier's in-house specialist Alessandro Del Vecchio on board providing songs. He's written enough material for various projects that he's proven anything he's involved in will have a certain level of quality. The band also says that this is their heaviest album, although heaviness is a relative thing when it comes to what is essentially a melodic rock band.

The tough thing, for me, is trying to convey thoughts about an album like this without repeating myself for the hundredth time. Melodic hard rock, especially of this particular variety, plays from the same formula it always has, without even getting into how many times it's the same people playing the same music, but under a different banner. The only thing that ever changes is the quality level of the tracks. Some bands do this well, some not so much. The diving line is over who has songwriting chops, with Hardline sitting somewhere right in the middle.

"Human Nature" is a good album, and I would never try to insinuate that it's a dud. But, I also would never try to say this is as good as I would like it to be. Just in terms of melodic rock of all stripes, it pales in comparison to what Nordic Union did earlier this year, and in terms of bands of a certain vintage, this is far from being as good as House Of Lord's album was last year. That album was a masterclass in writing melodic rock that was razor sharp. Hardline isn't quite on that level here.

So what Hardline has done is make a damn solid melodic rock album. They bring up the inevitable comparison to their own classic, which I think is a set-up for failure. Nothing released today can ever compare with decades of nostalgia. This album is not "Double Eclipse", and it shouldn't be. It has its own identity, and if you take it for what it is, you'll enjoy it. Hardline, in this form, is too talented to make anything less than a good record, which is what they've delivered here. There's nothing wrong with good music.

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