Hardline – Human Nature
Has there ever been a pop/rock album so obsessed with the end of the world? The epic to the breaking point production coupled with loss-filled lyrics all create this sense that everything is crumbling down in a beautiful mess of roaring guitars and soaring vocals.
This enormous apocalyptic tone runs throughout the album. Lines like “Repent/Repent/You’ll never be forgiven/The world is falling down” and “Where are we going now/Where’s the future of mankind” have a bizarre, paranoid feel that just keeps compounding as the album continues. Any power ballad that says “Burn the sky of Earth/We thought the end was just a fear/A thought of this end never felt near” is for sure conjuring images of a world splintering into pieces.
Adding to this atmosphere are the gargantuan riffs, with over half the tracks recalling straightforward heavy metal over the big AOR-infused sound normally associated with Hardline. “Where Will We Go From Here”, “Where the North Wind Blows”, “The World is Falling Down, and “Running on Empty” are like monster trucks careening down the highway at 100 miles an hour, a distinct switch from the soccer mom coming-of-age SUV ballads tucked away on Danger Zone, the band’s last album.
As with that release, all around cool guy Alessandro Del Vecchio returns to produce and write the majority of songs, but he definitely is taking a new approach. Perhaps after writing and producing Ted Poley’s ultra upbeat solo album earlier this year (which I gave an A-), Vecchio decided to take more influence from the Book of Revelations this time around. It’s the kind of style lead singer Johnny Gioeli is accustomed to through the Axel Rudi Pell band, yet there’s still a very pronounced melodic rock flair that keeps everything positive, lifting you up while the walls are coming down.
There’s only one ballad at around the halfway point, a brief reprieve that goes for the traditional almost losing the one you love bit. The key word is almost: the verse’s are all sadness and loss, but the “Whoa-oa-oa-oa/Love is gonna take you home/To me” chorus is calling us all back from the destruction and raising us up with the gorgeously delicate piano chord arrangement.
That’s probably what makes the album so palatable, through music and lyrics so focused on the end but looking forward to a new rebirth. For every line of doom and gloom, there’s always a “Here we are, blood thick as stone/We have our dreams to chase that goal” ready to balance everything. That’s probably why the cover’s that silly Yin and Yang thing on fire: every generation always feels like we’re on the brink of death, but we all come out bruised, battered, but stronger than before. Actually, a lot of us just end up confused and in the mental hospital, but for generally sound people like Vecchio, Gioeli, and Junkhead Josh, I think the album’s message will ring true.