Label: LO41 Records
Date: August 9th, 2019
Judging by the band photos provided with the promotional package, Hardland is a group of experienced musicians from the Netherlands. Be not misguided by the fact that this is only the second album by the band. Or that the band is just a couple of years old. Judging further by the music on display, the said experience is more than obvious. Also, and this is the one that surprised me the most, despite the age, Hardland doesn’t consider music recorded after 1989 non-existent. All of that, and more, is what you get within 41 minutes of “In Control”.
The Dutch quintet definitely bases their sound on the old melodic hard rock. Though the opening track (and first single), “The Nation’s Biggest Enemies”, might suggest differently. The song actually makes a thematic step out of the box with clear anti-establishment message. The rest of the songs are pretty much in line with what hard rock has been all about for a couple of decades. Love songs, basically. Back to the musical side, the opener has quite an industrial punch to it, which goes hand in hand with the topic covered. Some rapping included, too. With a very melodic chorus to round it all up. The second track is a cover of Tubeway Army, electro-pop band from the late 70’s. In order to avoid song-by-song reflection, let me just say that the album in general has an underline, though what’s built on top may vary. “Still Dreaming”, for instance, has a clear Bon Jovi vibe. “Haunted” will remind you of the classic Ozzy. There are moments when Hardland goes for a more progressive approach. All along the album you may also find references to some of the more recent additions to the scene. Early Smash Mouth or Three Doors Down, for example. Some fragments even draw roots from the original grunge. Mostly in the vocal department, which sometimes has a more raspy tone. The fact that three members share responsibility for the vocals is probably the reason why.
Despite the vast array of influences used, the album keeps its coherency. These are well infused and give you a decent whole. Hardland certainly goes along with every standard of the genre. Hence, one of the important factors must be the overall catchiness of the individual songs. There are a couple of them which really deserve some serious airplay. Real hits, some would say, as all the classic albums of the 80’s had. The clear, modern production will place the album in the 21st century, but the sheer creativity stems from back in the day.
In other words, the Dutch prove that this music does not belong to the decades long ago. This is timeless music, and even if one can definitely say Whitesnake, Purple, Sabbath and their likes did it better, there is no denying “In Control” is a good and honest piece of music. Even refreshing, I would add. Old school for the new age!