Hard Riot - 'Living On A Fast Lane'

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Hard Riot - 'Living On A Fast Lane'

Well-performed, consistent and engaging melodic rock.

Now here’s an album that should have many readers of Fireworks and Rocktopia slavering with delight as 44 minutes and eleven varied tracks of somewhat retro and sometimes 80s infused MHR come tumbling from the speakers…

Based in Germany (Heilbronn) and formed in 2006, ‘Living On A Fast Lane’ is Hard Riot’s debut album, and follows a self-released EP ‘The Hidden Truth’ in 2009, and plenty of gigging to hone their sound and performance skills. As is now typical, much use has been made of the various social media platforms, and this led to the link-up with producer Vagelis Maranis, based near Stuttgart. He has certainly coaxed some wonderful performances from the band, although I notice that strangely the various (excellent) guitar solos have been performed either by Georg Kousa or by Maranis himself…

When so many albums are let down by a poor choice of opening track, ‘Get Ready’ is a wonderful selection to get ‘Living…’ underway It has an especially punchy and memorable chorus and raises expectations for the rest of the album. You will not be disappointed as the stomping rock ‘n’ roll of pacey ‘Hellfire Rock’, followed by the slower but no more reserved ‘Don’t Need You’ with its incisive riffs, multi-layered vocals and crisp production draw the listener in. ‘No Surrender’ raises the bar even higher and is a classic example of the glories that a twin lead guitar formation can achieve. It’s a great song with a chorus that burrows into the brain and stays put!

‘Tears In The Rain’ is a much slower, heavy but still supremely melodic power ballad, until the pace picks up for a final instrumental flourish, which unfortunately chooses to fade! This song really highlights what a fantastic vocalist Michael Gildner is, but his wonderful timbre and melodic sheen grab attention throughout the album. The silly lyrics somewhat detract from the otherwise competent ‘Turn On The Lights’, but one forgets all this once the simply magical ‘Nothing (But You)’ with its acoustic guitar opening gets into its stride. This is unlike the rest of the songs here, and perfectly showcases yet another side of the band’s repertoire. ‘Take Me Down’ picks up the pace and once again it’s that wonderful twin guitar sound that immediately impresses. ‘Hard Way Down’ features ferocious guitars fading in before settling down and becoming a straightforward R’n’R number. ‘Black Widow’ is a slow and heavy number with a sudden finish while album closer ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw’ is a party song which I noted as being “Status Quo-ish”!

The bottom line? With so many new releases out there currently, I am concerned that this gem could be overlooked. Hard Riot has produced a surprisingly uplifting and appealing album for their debut and lovers of really well-performed, consistent and engaging melodic rock will overlook ‘Living On A Fast Lane’ to their enormous loss. It’s magical, even if not especially original – but you do need to own it!

Paul Jerome Smith

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