Hardline – Heart, Mind And Soul (Frontiers)

It’s 30 years since Hardline set new standards for soft rock.

A year after the Gioeli brothers launched their new band, 1992’s dazzling debut Double Eclipse overshadowed AOR allcomers.

Journey man Neal Schon and Deen Castronovo were the star recruits.

The band’s dreamy music was even played during a sun-soaked Baywatch montage.

And high profile tours alongside Mr Big and Extreme took Hardline coast to coast across the US.

But timing was everything where the new kids on the melodic rock block were concerned.

And dropping Double Eclipse at a time when Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden had started to dominate MTV didn’t end well.

The Gioelis — singer Johnny and guitarist Joey — swiftly became a band out of time.

A slew of sublime AOR classics wasn’t enough to persuade label bosses to sink more cash into a project seemingly doomed to failure from day one.

And it was hard lines for Hardline as they split just months after Double Eclipse’s release.

But you can’t keep a good band down. Not when they’re this good.

And in 2021 Johnny Gioeli is a frontman reborn.

Heart, Mind And Soul survivors

A decade separated Hardline’s first two albums.

But Heart, Mind And Soul is the band’s fifth long player in 12 years.

And safe to say quality has kept pace with quantity…so far.

The follow-up to 2019’s Life leans on tried and tested melodic rock tropes.

And there are knowing nods to Bad English, Firehouse, late 80s Whitesnake and peak chart Magnum.

Gioeli jostles for position with outstanding axeman Mario Percudani.

And Alessandro Del Vecchio’s knack for adding affecting keys knows no bounds.

Hardline have crafted a killer of a record that screams self-confidence and doubles down on Double Eclipse’s obvious potential.

It’s taken almost three decades to shape that standout album’s natural successor.

But for hardcore Hardline fans Heart, Mind And Soul has been worth the wait.

That ’80s Moment…and more

Enjoy fist-pumping arena-ready anthems.

Marvel at the AOR masterpieces that trip off the tongue and melt the frets.

And experience the saccharine ballads that allow Gioeli to hit his stride.

Skip to ‘80s Moment — an unashamed tribute to Johnny boy’s soft rock roots — to get a handle on what this band does best.

Blast out red-hot opener Fuel To The Fire for a snapshot of Hardline as 2021’s melodic rock trailblazers.

Or settle back and savour the understated brilliance that is emotive set closer We Belong.

But what about the standout track?

If I Could I Would is a wonderful amalgam of the talents assembled here.

It’s got it all: the soaring vocal, Percudani’s pin-sharp six-string prowess and Del Vecchio’s sweeping keys.

Heart, Mind And Soul is Hardline hardwired…for a new tilt at the top.

Here’s hoping.