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Hardland - Reach the Sky

Reach the Sky
by Mark Machlay at 27 July 2020, 11:52 PM

HARDLAND, the hard rockers from Thessaloniki, Greece are back with a new album to fulfill all your AOR/Melodic Hard Rock needs. Not to be confused with the more 80’s tinged, similarly named HARDLAND from the Netherlands, the group was formed in 2016 by guitarist Michalis Protopsaltis and drummer Costa Tanis – both coming from bands HARDWAYS, REAL THING and SOPHIST. Stavros Papadopoulos of SUPER VINTAGE, acting as guitarist, vocalist and producer, also joined to get the ball rolling. Once the album was recorded Papadopoulos was content to act solely as producer, allowing Protopsaltis to take over guitar work entirely. In the recording process, they added Kostas Taltabanis on bass and Aggelos Gouzetos on vocals – both from the band GREEN HORSES. Their first self-titled album was released in June of 2017 but towards the end of year in December 2017, Tanis would leave the drum throne vacant due to health reasons and Tolis Giannoulis would join them on the skins. They soon began work on their next album at Gravity Studios. It was released digitally on May 24, 2020 and will be available on CD on November 29, 2020.

What HARDLAND has to offer is solidly produced, decently crafted heavy hard rock similar to SCORPIONS, MOTORHEAD, and AC/DC. From the outset “Coming Home” lets you know that they are serving up throwback, groovy hard rock that is inoffensive and designed to get you feeling good while out on the road or just hanging out on your Harley. They’re not really into the hard and heavy of METALLICA or BLACK SABBATH, they’re more concerned with laid back slow jams, perfectly encapsulated in the intro track as well as on “Midnight Lover”, “Reach the Sky” and “Out in the Cold”.

But by “Hells Ride”, they seem to get a bit more experimental. This track is honestly a great facsimile of VAN HALEN’s “Hot for Teacher” with its syncopated drum rhythm and similar vocal and guitar stylings. “On My Way” sees similar experimentation in an off-beat groove, plenty of pinch harmonics and a surprisingly finessed guitar solo. “Into My Arms” starts with a fantastic acoustic intro, keeps it clean and could stand up with Steve Morse’s recent side project FLYING COLORS for its guitar work and general artistry put into the song.

But then there are songs like “Madmen” that sadly didn’t live up to its title and is just another slow groove track in a slew of them. The upside is that it feels pretty modern like “Into My Arms” which saves it a little. The tracks are laid out well in that fast and slow tracks are never put back-to-back but it still seemed laborious to get through. Ultimately, if you’re a hard rock fan - especially of a throwback sound, yet produced with a modern flair – you can certainly find something to love about this record.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Coming Home
2. Blues on My Own
3. Reach the Sky
4. Out in the Cold
5. Hells Ride
6. Midnight Lover
7. On My Way
8. Only Fire
9. Rock N Rolling Man
10. Into My Arms
11. Madman
Aggelos Gouzetos – Vocals
Michalis Protopsaltis – Guitars
Kostas Taltabanis – Bass and Vocals
Tolis Giannoulis - Drums
Record Label: New Dream Records


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Edited 05 July 2022

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