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Wednesday 14 July 2021

Reviews: Hardline, Pistols At Dawn, Shotgun Mistress, Bottomless (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Paul Hutchings)

Hardline - Heart, Mind & Soul (Frontiers Music Srl) [Matt Bladen]

Many years on from their classic debut Double Eclipse Hardline have been reactivated since 2012 with lead vocalist Johnny Gioeli now leading a group of Italian musicians including Alessandro Del Vecchio on keys, Mario Percudani’s (guitar), Anna Portalupi (bass) and Marco Di Salvia (drums) . Danger Zone was Hardline re-establishing their credentials and since then they have released Human NatureLife and now Heart, Mind & Soul their seventh studio record. There's no shifts in style here, this seventh record has all of the melodic rock slickness that Hardline has been at the forefront of it since 1992. 

The kick off is Fuel To The Fire which has choppy riffs from Percudani and gets the blood pumping as it shifts into the pumping Surrender which is Hardline 101. There's also ballads, quite a few of them, Heavenly here probably taking the award for being the one that makes my stomach hurt due to its sweetness. It's like Bon Jovi dipped in caramel, but there's just enough rock to balance it out, The Curse and 80' s Moment taking things back to the early days of the band. As per Gioeli is at the top of his game with a vocal style that is very much perfect for this type of melodic rocking. Headline continue to do things their own way forging their own path in their genre of choice. 6/10

Pistols At Dawn – Nocturnal Youth (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Fancy something well-crafted and perfectly executed? Well, if you are a fan of the radio-friendly hard rock of Godsmack and Shinedown, then Georgia five-piece Pistols At Dawn may well be a band for you to get stuck into. This four-track EP builds on their previous releases, and although it’s nothing original, the very fact that the band can deliver with such high quality makes it stand a little further apart from many of their contemporaries. Having regrouped after the tragic death of guitarist Mike Bubba in 2018, the band recruited singer Chris Pierson, a finalist from the talent show VHI Rockstar Supernova (if you haven’t seen this, find it on YouTube and prepare to cringe). Pierson undoubtedly has a quality delivery, and it’s his vocals that in part give Pistols At Dawn a little oomph. 

Of the four tracks on offer, Voices is probably the one that worked best, with its hooks, catchy chorus and overall impressive sound and production adding to the general feel of the song. Founder and drummer Adam Jaffe, guitarist Devin White, bassist Billy Sullivan and guitarist Tommy Richardson who make up Pistols At Dawn are accomplished musicians, and the generic style is nonetheless pleasing and enjoyable. The band make some big claims in their PR, but the confidence with which they play, and with over 100K followers on Facebook suggest that Pistols At Dawn could be something big. It’s worth a listen, even if only to hear what the hype is about. 7/10

Shotgun Mistress - Shotgun Mistress (Crusader Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Hidden in this debut album by Aussie rockers Shotgun Mistress is former Akercoke guitarist Matt Wilcox, founder of the band and a former member of The Berzerker and Abramelin. It’s a surprising turn of style from the death metal guitarist but don’t let that put you off – from either perspective. The remaining members of the band, drummer Diamond” David Lee, Ben Curnow on bass and vocalist Glenn Patrick combine with Wilcox to make trashy, hard rock that wouldn’t be out of place on the Sunset Strip. There’s a swagger on this record which only certain musicians can bring. It certainly has the hallmark of Australian confidence. Brash and bold, there’s little here that hasn’t been done before, but the component parts are cohesive, boasting large hooks and melodies, big riffs, and an overall belief in their ability. 

Part Velvet Revolver, part Guns N Roses, part Airborne, this is contemporary hard rock with a nod to the 1980s. Wilcox is an excellent guitarist, his solos scream over the top of the rock-steady engine room, and Patrick’s vocals are clean yet sleazy enough to work perfectly. From the opening Born And Raised, the anti-domestic violence themes of No Friend Of Mine, the melodic groove of Collide and the gentler, haunting closer May She Never Walk Alone, there is something here for most hard rock fans. Utilising the combination of lush harmonies, chanting choruses and catchy, anthemic songs, there’s no doubt that Shotgun Mistress are likely to be a big noise on the hard rock world in the months to come. 8/10

Bottomless - Bottomless (Spikerot Records) [Matt Bladen]

Featuring members from Italian doom/stoner metal band Messa, Assumption, Bottomless bring a much more classical approach to the doom sound. Clear influences of Saint Vitus, Trouble, The Obsessed and The Skull essentially if it features Scott 'Wino' Weinrich or Eric Wagner then this trio will get excited about it. They obviously also love Black Sabbath, Loveless Rain very much in the Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward vein. Slow monolithic riffs are met with some powerful grooves on tracks such as Cradling Obsession which has that driving riff from guitarist/singer Giorgio Trombino as the powerful rhythm section of Assumption band mate, drummer David Lucido and bassist Sara Bianchin of Messa are downtuned and ominous. This self titled album has been a long time coming because of the bands other commitments but the wait has been worth it for what is a traditional doom metal record that ticks nearly all the boxes. It's nothing to revolutionary in the genre but it gets your head nodding along when played at high volume. 7/10

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