Frontline has been in the music business since the late-80's, releasing a bunch of acclaimed albums such as The State of Rock and Heroes II and an all-acoustic piece titled Two Faced. As with many other bands, they were struck by contractual obligations with their former label and it took them several years to hook up with AOR Heaven's Georg Siegl and release a couple of other discs, none of which I've heard unfortunately.
Circles is the band's 2006 release, produced by guitarist Robby Bobel (Evidence One). Based on various reviews I've skimmed through, it is considered a step down from their earlier work, but I honestly don't see why, seeing Frontline has always been a melodic hard rock band playing catchy hooks and big choruses, with sprinkles of keyboards thrown in the mix. Images of Def Leppard are conjured up on the more poppy material, such as "Don't Run Away", a very melodic piece complete with a cool guitar solo; or the ballady songs "Did You Ever (Taste the Pain)", also evoking Tyketto. It ends with solo piano which is quite beautiful. "Say, What You Have to Say" is another midtempo rocker, borrowing plenty of keyboards and delving into a nice instrumental bravado, highlighted by great drum fills, fantastic lead guitars, and melodic passages. The chorus does feel kind of excessive, however. On the heavier front, "No One" and "I Give You the Rest" both deserve attention. The former also contains a more modern feel to it, with bubbling synth sounds underneath 80's Journey-like guitars and vocal harmonies. The second song, on the other hand, is more energetic and possibly the fastest number on the album. Kudos go to Robby Bobel, whose tapping-infused playing brings to mind 80's greats such as Reb Beach and Dann Huff, as well as Vito Bratta. His tapping on "Save Me" is actually the best guitar part on the album.
Vocalist Stephan Kammerer has a good voice and solid delivery. The fact that his singing carries with it the classic Meine-like accent gives him more edge and helps strengthen the choruses. That said, had some of these sections been more diverse, rather than focusing on repeated harmonies, Circles could have been a more engaging effort. The last song, "My Vision", deviates quite a bit from the flow of the album, opting for a more modern rock vibe, and while good for what it is, Frontline are obviously a lot better as a hard rock act.
Check this disc out if you were a fan of 80's Journey, Giant, Tyketto, and Def Leppard.
- No One
- I Give You the Rest
- Save Me
- Did You Ever (Taste the Pain)
- Say, What You Have To Say
- Don't Run Away
- Into Deep
- It Is You
- My Vision