Hardline – ‘Leaving The End Open’
Released Through Frontiers records
Johnny Gioeli – Vocals
Josh Ramos – Guitars
Michael T. Ross – Keyboards
Jamie Brown – Bass
Atma Anur - Drums
1.) “Voices” – There is a special effect that opens this track and leads into the intro. The main musical intro consists of guitar plus a bass & drum line. The intro to me was a little unexpected and I hope this is not a prelude of things to come. There is no musical change for the pre-verse. In between the lead vocal lines and the musical arrangement there are little lead guitar licks. There is a huge desperately need hook for the chorus. For the verse the band revert back to the first musical arrangements of the verse. There is a very cool musical and vocal breakdown after the second chorus that leads into the lead guitar solo section. As a musician I completely understand were the band is coming from. However, as a Hardline fan I must say this song will probably go down in history as one of my least catalog favorites.
2.) “Falling Free” – This track opens with a small drum echo before going into the main musical intro section. The minor lead guitar solo over the top of the main musical intro section had such of a Neal Schon influence that it gave the intro a heavy Journey sound. The minor lead guitar solo runs through the entire intro section. The guys used the same rhythm guitar arrangement for the musical chorus the intro. There are a couple huge tom-tom fills underneath the musical arrangements of the chorus. There is a minor lead guitar solo connecting with the first chorus with the first verse. The drum line of the musical verse had a very cool hi-hat pattern. There is a small musical build-up between the verse and pre-chorus. The breakdown section that leads into the major lead guitar solo consisted of a very odd vocal arrangement over the top of a tom-tom pattern and rhythm guitar. The major lead guitar solo was typical of Hardline solo’s. There actually are two major solo that are separated by a vocal accent. The lead guitar solo runs through the outro section of the song.
3.) “Start Again” –There is a little keyboard effect that opens this track. The main musical intros had a keyboard, bass & drum line bass with Josh playing small lead licks over the top of it. A cymbal crash/rest connects the musical intro with the musical verse. Johnny’s vocal line of the verse kicks-in over the top of the rest. The lyrical & musical arrangements of the verse has a very early nineties pop feel to them. There is a small drum fill connecting the verse with the chorus. The musical arrangements along with the backing harmonies give this chorus a huge hook. The lead guitar solo for this track was very well written!
4.) “Pieces Of Puzzles” – There is a huge drum fill that leads into the main musical intro of this track. The drum fill leads into a guitar pick slide. The guitar that plays this pick slide goes on to play rhythm guitar underneath a minor lead guitar solo. It sounds like this minor lead guitar solo was double track to give off a twin guitar effect. The drum line of the musical verse consisted of a cowbell. It sounded as if several of Johnny’s vocal lines where echoed. There is no musical change between the verse and pre-chorus. The musical change of the song is not until the chorus. To me, this track reminded me of older Hardline. Several of the vocal lines of the chorus are double tracked which is probably where the song gets it’s hook. The lead guitar solo of this track was amazing and one of the best I’ve heard the band write.
5.) “Bittersweet” – This intro opens with a very simple laid back electrified acoustic guitar arrangement. Michael adds small keyboard chording to fill-in several of the emptiness of the acoustic. There is a minor lead guitar solo over the top of the musical intro. There are small cymbal accents connecting the musical intro with musical verse. It sounded like the band used the electrified acoustic as a base and built the musical verse around it. The fourth lyric line along with the seventh where done with backing harmonies. There is a small rhythm change for the musical chorus. The only distinction between the musical verse and chorus was the guys added a whole lot more backing harmonies. For the main chorus arrangement there are little minor lead guitar solos connecting the lyric lines together. After the first chorus there is a minor lead guitar solo connecting the chorus with the next verse. To me, I felt the backing harmonies were very reminiscent to some of the backing harmonies the band Chicago did on their ‘I6’ & ‘17’ releases. There is a vocal echo attached to the first lyric line of the second verse. The lead vocal & backing vocals of this track makes the song everything else is gravy!
6.) “She Sleeps In Madness” –Michael opens this intro with a strange keyboard effect. Over the top of this strange little effect Michael plays very simple chording patterns. Over the top of this a minor lead guitar solo begins. It sounded like Josh used a fuzz pedal on the lead guitar solo. As the solo progresses the drums fade-in. All of this together gives this intro a very Pink Floyd feel and sound. Which, I was not expecting at all!!!! The vocal lines and musical arrangements of the verse have an abstract feel to them. As abstract sounding as the choruses of this track are very catchy with nice hooks. When Johnny sings the “black and white” sections of the backing harmonies his vocals almost have an almost Chester Bennington of Linkin Park feel to them. The lead guitar solo for this song was one of the best on the release.
7.) ““In The Moment” –” – This intro consisted of a minor lead guitar solo over the top of a very simple keyboard arrangement. The way Michael arranged his keyboard arrangement gave the intro a feeling of like the opening of a drama movie. The minor solo section leads right into the opening lyric of the first lyric line. Though Michael keeps the keyboard the same the band picks the musical arrangements up through the pre-chorus and chorus. There is a minor lead guitar solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse. The simple lead guitar solo for this track is by far the best on the release!
8.) “Give In To This Love” – This track opens with a very simple heavy classic eighties hard rock intro. There is no rhythm change between the intro a verse. Instead of changing the musical arrangement the guys alter the lyric arrangement of the chorus. There are a couple lead guitar licks connecting the first chorus with the second verse. So far this is the one track on the CD that reminds me of early Hardline. As far as hard rock goes this song was perfectly written!!!!!
9.) “Before This” –This song opens with a verse instead of a intro arrangement. As the musical verse progresses it builds to the hook of the pre-chorus and chorus. After the first chorus Michael brings the musical arrangement back down. It sounds like there was a small whispered echo attached to the lead vocals. There are a couple lead vocal lines in between the lead guitar solo. This ruined the solo section!
10.) “Hole In My Head” – This intro consisted of two different guitar arrangements one playing rhythm riffs and one playing lead riffs. The drum rhythm of the intro was done with a tom-tom pattern. To distinguish the separation between intro and musical verse Atma switches from his tom-toms to a hi-hat rhythm. The way the song was produced has the music completely overshadowing Johnny’s vocals. Bleeding through the end of the verse you can hear a Keith Emerson style keyboard arrangement. There is an arrangement change for the musical chorus Johnny also double tracked his vocals for the chorus. Atma switch to a tom-tom rhythm between the first chorus and second verse. After the second chorus there is a huge breakdown section. This breakdown section leads into the lead guitar solo. As this song progresses especially after the solo section it really grows on you a lot!
11.) “Leaving The End Open” – This track opens with the sound effect of distant rolling thunder. This especial effect leads into a Michael Ross keyboard arrangement. There is a minor lead guitar solo over the top of this keyboard arrangement. The lyrical and musical verse is very reminiscent to eighties Bryan Adams. As the song progresses through the pre-chorus the song builds to the hook of the chorus. The same minor solo of the intro section also connected the first chorus with the second verse. THIS IS CLASSIC HARDLINE!!!!
The first time I heard Hardline was actually one night around late ’96 or ’97 I was listening to HardRadio (www.hardradio.com) and they played “Hot Cherie” taken from Hardline’s first CD titled, ‘Double Eclipse’ released in 1992. I don’t think I was even up to the chorus and I was already blown away and a Hardline fan.
‘Leaving The End Open’ is the third release from the band. To me the songwriting is as good as it always is. However, in comparison to the other two this release falls in the middle. It’s not as good as their first CD but better than their last release. But do not let that stop you; if you are a fan of Hardline then you will definitely like this one. Just be aware you may not like this CD as well as their first release.