No matter what musical trends may come and go, there always seems to be a niche for good old-fashioned melodic hard rock. Hardline’s latest release Danger Zone, will be a comfortable fit for anyone who is a fan of that genre. The latest iteration of the band features sole remaining original member and lead vocalist Johnny Gioeli teaming up with a group of European musicians: Italians Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards and backing vocals, Anna Portalupi on bass, and drummer Francesco Jovina. The international flavor is rounded out on guitar with Thorsten Koehne from Germany.
Gioeli could well be the great unknown voice of hard rock. There are many singers who are more well-known, but Gioelo could go toe-to-toe with anyone of them–and stand a good chance of coming out on top. His clear powerful vocals drive this album from beginning to end. Del Vecchio’s keyboards provide another stamp on the record, giving it a distinctive, late 80’s feel (think bands such as Rainbow and House of Lords). Of course, when it’s melodic hard rock, guitars are what come to mind. Koehn, like Gioeli, isn’t a household name, but he’s an excellent guitarist who’s playing doesn’t take a back seat to anyone, including Hardline’s most famous alumni Neal…uh, what’s-his-name…you know, that guy who plays in Journey. Koehn definitely knows how to play, but even more important, he knows how to not overplay. On songs I Don’t Wanna Break Away, Look At You Now, and, especially, the title track of the album, his solos soar fast and melodic, but they always fit the spirit of the song.
Danger Zone won’t break any new ground, but in a way, that’s exactly the point. It’s the musical equivalent of comfort food. Comfort music? All things considered, it’s not a bad concept at all.