The group was established when brothers Johnny (vocals) and Joey (guitar) Gioeli, (originally from the band Brunette) teamed up with Journey/Bad English guitarist Neal Schon. The original plan was for Schon to just produce Hardline, but as he was having so much fun that he decided to join the band as soon as he left Bad English following tensions with John Waite. They immediately added established musicians Todd Jensen (David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper) on bass and Deen Castronovo (also from Bad English) on drums to the mix, and the result was magnificent. They went on to record their debut album Double Eclipse for MCA in 1992 and then toured with such heavy hitters as Van Halen and Mr. Big. The first single from that album was the song “Hot Cherie”.
Schon re-started his adventure with Journey in 1995 (again with Deen Castronovo). Johnny Gioeli stepped out of the music business at that time also, only to return as Axel Rudi Pell’s singer in 1998 on the album Oceans Of Time. Years later, Johnny and his brother Joey were ready to give it another go with Hardline, after the call from Frontiers Records, with an all new line-up featuring famed drummer Bob Rock (Nelson, Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion), lead guitarist Josh Ramos (The Storm, Two Fires), bassist Chris Maloney and keyboard player Michael T. Ross (Accomplice) and all new material. The awesome result was Hardline II, which was produced by veteran studio man Bob Burch.
I personally stumbled across the band on the last album and, with all the fantastic musicians, expected a lot. I wasn’t disappointed, so was looking forward to hearing this new record.
The album opens with “Where Will We Go From Here” and what an opener it is, with some awesome guitar riffs and keyboard work, mixed with those fantastic vocals – a real catchy song. “Nobody’s Fool” follows and it’s a great strong follow on song; this is AOR at its best you can imagine this live with its awesome sing-a-long choruses and lots of fist pumping riffs.
“Human Nature” is a lovely ballad and you can hear the influences from Bad English and Journey. You can imagine everyone reaching for there lighters (or, these days, lights on the phones) for this song.
“Trapped In Muddy Waters” starts with some lovely guitar work and has a blistering guitar solo as we are treated to another great piece of rock music by this talented bunch of artists.
“Running On Empty” rips through my speakers and there is no let up in this AOR masterclass. Every song is just as catchy and memorable as the last.
“The World Is Falling Down” is punctuated by some great gang-style vocals, mixed with the awesome singing. The album is then slowed down for the epic “Take Me Home“.
“Where The Wind Blows” again gets the fists pumping on this really rocking track. This is quickly followed by “In The Dead Of The Night“, which is enfused with melodic guitar and keyboard riffs that link so well with the fantastic vocals.
The pace of the record is slowed for “United We Stand“, another awesome song which is very powerful.
The album concludes with “Fighting The Battle“. Wow – what a way to go out! Crunching riffs drive into the lovely melodic breakdown when the vocals start and some glorious harmonies combine for a really catchy sing along song.
If you like AOR, this album is for you. Catchy choruses are allied to great musicianship and great vocal work. I would love to see this band live …