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Hardline Leaving The End Open Frontiers Records
FRCD405
· Produced By: Bob Birch

· Running Time: 51.57

· Release Date: Out Now

· Released:

· Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock

· Links: Frontiers
91%
Songs: 93%
Sound: 84%
It was 2002 when Hardline II was released and I gave it a 90% rating. In hindsight that was a little high, but I still find myself admiring some aspects of that album and I know my appreciation for what the guys were trying to do found me in the minority when views on that record are aired.
The band was trying to update their sound, but didn't have the production quality in place and perhaps pushed the envelope too far considering the style of the debut, which fans were anticipating a repeat of.
Several years in the making, there were times when I figured the third album Leaving The End Open would never appear.
And when it did I also figured it would be almost impossible to resurrect the Hardline name yet again after a 7 year wait. Whether there is ever a Hardline 4 remains to be seen, but at least the guys have corrected a number of mistakes made with Hardline II.
Having already established a more updated sound on Hardline II, it seems easier to accept the style of the new album.
Leaving The End Open has little in common with the classic hard rock of the debut. The ballads come close, but elsewhere the updated sound of the last album is continued, but with a more convincing melodic friendly approach at all times, making this a very credible contemporary melodic rock record.
If the word contemporary has always scared you off, then this album probably won't change any perceptions, but for those that are willing to hear a band grow and mature, this should provide plenty of highlights.
As with Hardline II, I expect a number will dislike this record and the reviews will feature the polar extremes of both sides of the coin. Count me in the positive column.
Leaving The End Open is a somewhat mellower than expected record, with the emphasis on slow and mid-tempo numbers, but it still rocks in places.
The aggressive contemporary rocker Voices opens the album with authority and a contrasting melodic chorus that gets better with every listen. Lots of hidden melodies within this track. Falling Free follows a similar path – a contemporary theme, but a strong classic melodic chorus that flows effortlessly.
Start Again is a classic Hardline style ballad that could have been placed on either of the two albums preceding this one.
Pieces of Puzzles is one of those tracks that classic AOR fans will hate – a tough contemporary exterior, but get further in and there is a very melodic and catchy bridge and chorus to enjoy. Bittersweet is a dreamy atmospheric track that features some fine Neal Schon moments courtesy of guitarist Josh Ramos.
She Sleeps In Madness is probably one of the weaker tracks on the album – it again features that modern and dark edge, but a less discernable chorus. This adds grit to the album, but AOR fans will struggle with this one.
On the other hand, In This Moment is an AOR dream – a beautiful ballad accompanied by piano and a superb Johnny Gioeli vocal.
Give In To This Love returns the album to a modern and dark edge, with a melody that takes time to get to know, but remains effective.
Before This flip flops the album back to classic AOR. This is a nice building song that climbs to one of the best anthemic choruses of the record. One of the highlights as classic meets modern in a groovy way.
As has been the pattern, the album turns darker again with Hole In My Head. Another question mark for lovers of old school melodic hard rock, but it continues that interesting contrasting pattern of styles that the second half of this record has.
And closing the album is another monster ballad. The title track of the album is a really superb piece of music and Johnny's emotional vocal and Josh's highly melodic guitar work make for a killer song.
Plenty to enjoy here in both light and shade for those that are open minded, although the ambitious song designs are not full appreciated due to a production quality that doesn't match up. The cymbal and overall drums sound doesn't penetrate like it should (once again) and the mix is a little muddy in places.
The Bottom Line
Three albums' in 19 years is not an amazing work rate, so it is pleasing that the contents of this album are more consistent and enjoyable than that of Hardline II, but it is still a world away from the debut, which I rate a classic. But I'm a sucker for Gioeli's voice and Josh's guitar work and the songs here while updated in style, are very melodic and offer something different than other releases around right now.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Double Eclipse
· II
· Leaving The End Open

Line Up:
· Johnny Gioeli: Vocals
· Josh Ramos: Lead Guitar
· Atma Anur: Drums
· Jamie Browne: Bass
· Michael T Ross: Keyboards

Essential For Fans Of:
· Hardline - II
· Josh Ramos
Track Listing
· Voices *
· Falling Free *
· Start Again *
· Pieces Of Puzzles
· Bittersweet
· She Sleeps In Madness
· In This Moment *
· Give In To This Love
· Before This *
· Hole In My Head
· Leaving The End Open *

--*Best Tracks


22/12/09: Jim - jkr6064@yahoo.com
Rating: 98
This is the album of 2009 for me. Big fan of Double Eclipse and it's on my CD player right now. Like Andy, I saw Hardline live supporting Extreme and to this day they remain the most memorable 45 minutes of my live viewing memories. Neil Schon is a god and I was saddened when he left this project.

However, I love the sound on this album. I also think lyrically it does ok, but they're never going to win any awards for their lyrics!!!

Falling Free has me turning up the volume and singing my head off. What a song. 19 years was a long time to wait for the true follow up to DE (Hardline II is best forgotten to be fair), but I can listen to this on repeat for hours.

Fabulous album and I only hope they don't wait years to release another one, but do so soon and follow this vein.

14/10/09: Tuomas - syklipollo@gmail.com
Rating: 89
Strange sounding record this one?? It´s good but strange..good songs and good vocalmelodies but not all worth the wait..Johny Gioeli shines again here as always! Production just don´t match the songmaterial..?? Keep developing the sound of Hardline...:)

27/09/09: Sergio - bmgcli00@bmgclimasnc.191.it
Rating: 95
Very very good. One of the best in'09.
Ciao

16/09/09: Darkelf - sswan1@mts.net
Rating: 40
I was very disappointed by this release. It is way too mellow for me. I like a good ballad or two within a album, but it seems the reverse has happened here, whereas there are two "rockers" thrown in with a disc full of slow songs. It just wasn't what I expected from Hardline.
I like "She Sleeps in Madness" and "Give in to This Love", but there are no rockers like Hot Cherie, Takin Me Down, Rhythm from a Red Car from their debut, nor Hold Me Down from II.

10/09/09: SoMuchMusicSoLittleTime - thedimpletons@yahoo.com
Rating: 97
I am extremely impressed with this album. I'm beginning to think this has album of the year potential. There is some strong competition already out and still to come but this will be right up there for me at year end -- no doubt! Almost all of these songs seem unique and special to me. Some interesting and well thought out arrangements that give it that extra standout quality. The funny thing is that I might have marked the best tracks as the ones that Andrew did not indicate. That speaks to the quality of this release in my mind.

28/08/09: William - dadbliss33@yahoo.com
Rating: 92
This album has some worthy song writing. I was pleased with 5 songs.

The highlights are Voices, Falling free, start again, in this moment.

Falling Free sounds like a classic Hardline song.

Start again; very nice ballad, good song writing here.

In this moment; excellent piano song, excellent vocals; deep song.

I was happy with this record, I hope many of you check it out.

25/08/09: Shane - mizer1120@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
I followed Hardline from the moment I heard the soundtrack for the movie Rapid Fire. I was clueless who they were until i finally tracked down a copy in a record store - pre internet in those days.
Anyway to the point, this album was far and away better than their 2nd album. They may not have Schon but Josh does a very good stand in for him.
I definitely second the opinion, if you liked Double Eclipse than give this a listen as well.

25/08/09: RockMan - purjfo98@msn.com
Rating: 90
I also believe this to be the exception to the modern sound "rule". I love listening to this and I firmly believe it is because Josh and Johnny spent so much time making the essential parts of the disc perfect. The harmonies and layers sound tremendous and give depth to what might have been lost tunes without the tremendous time they were given. Thank you guys! These songs are wonderful and a good addition to the other two. 90/100

23/08/09: Craig Chapman - CraigChapman@talktalk.net
Rating: 95
Not at all what I exepected prior to hearing the soundclips on MR.com, but this is one of the best "modern" sounding albums by any of the old guard bands from the AOR heydays.

Some awesome guitar ideas, soaring choruses springing out of off-kilter verses and then some divine songs like Bittersweet.

I don't usually go for the "modern" approach and there's plenty of bands re-hashing some pretty worn-out ideas, but this album hits the spot in both areas just fine for me.

21/08/09: Wardy - micktward@internode.on.net
Rating: 80
This is a pretty neat record. My score might not reflect the enthusiasm for others here but for this kind of album it's credible results for these ears. Normally I might avoid this kind of release unless there's true sentimental interst in it (which I'm afraid there's not, loved some of the debut but never a true fan as such) but here we have a release that can stand on its own.

There's too much niceness in some of these song structures and too many typical arrangements etc for me to be completely won over by it, and I would like to see the guys move out of the box just that little bit more next time around... but bloody hell there's some gems as well.

Voices is stellar. Being reserved come chorus time was an ingenious decision as the song is superb without needing the gloss appeal. Spectacular start to an album I expected to altogether different. In This Moment is hands down one of the strongest piano led ballads I've heard in years with its heartfelt impassioned vocal over what is a brilliant tune.

There's lots more to like too (other personal favorites being Hole In My Head and She Sleeps In Madness).

They've done good. The Hardline guys should be proud of this one and lets hope they continue to flex out of the box and certainly don't make us wait this long again for the followup!

After hearing most of it I went out and paid the better part of a squillion bucks for my copy... so it MUST be good then ;)

21/08/09: Andy Braban - abraban@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
iv followed hardline from the start and actually caught them live supporting extreme, in fact they where the only real reason for my attending that gig as i had purchased the debut with the god that is neal schon on the axe. the debut remains one of my all time favourites and surely is a classic. the second album was a little below par for me apart from a few top numbers that rescued it from being a total wipeout but in L,T,E,O. the third offering from the band. it truely is, to my mind a fantastic and in parts beautiful release form hardline, joey and josh and the rest of the gang. numbers like ..START AGAIN and IN THIS MOMENT with VOICES, FALLING FREE AND BITTER SWEET being the stand out moments on the album with the astonishing title track LEAVING THE END OPEN being just AOR bliss of the highest order. i cant praise this high enuff really. its hard to find a weak moment when listening to the album over time. each track has a special place and moment, some being a little more special than others which is the reason for my 90% but it is very close to the debut for quality and even sound and style of the songs. deffinately one of my best purchases of 2009.
a must have!!!
Andy Braban.

20/08/09: Robert - rstupay@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
This is the record that should have followed the debut. I agree that the production lags in spots, but the songs are undeniably better than anything on II. Falling Free, Voices, the title track all sound like leftovers from Double Eclipse. Johnny sounds fantastic and Josh Ramos does a decent Neal Schon (as usual!). It's a nice throwback...if you enjoyed DE, there's plenty to like here.


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