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Album Review : Heart Line: Back In The Game

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Heart Line is a new French AOR/Melodic Rock band formed by guitarist and producer Yvan Guillevic. He is joined in the project by vocalist Emmanuel Creis , keyboardist Jorris Guilbaud , drummer Walter Francais and bassist Dominique Braud.

All are active members in the French rock scene and together they have created Back In The Game, an album that will appeal to fans of classic AOR/Melodic Rock from bands from Whitesnake, to Foreigner, Journey, Winger, Bad English, Giant, and many more.

From the get go, it’s clear that Heart Line know their stuff when it comes to this kind of music. Opener ‘Fighting To Live’ has all the ingredients that any self-respecting AOR fanatic will know and love and indeed demand from his/her AOR fix. Emmanuel Creis has exactly the right kind of voice for this kind of thing.

He hits those requisite monstrous high notes with consummate ease and he demonstrates that skill across all eleven tracks on this album. In addition, in Yvan Guillevic Heart Line have a guitarist with all the chops, handling the saccharine-sweet riffs, melodic interludes and shredding solo flurries like there’s no tomorrow.

These two are admirably supported by the rest of the band, notably keyboardist Jorris Guilbaud, who has clearly plundered the bountiful vault of classic 80s AOR keyboard sounds, providing the huge slabs of candy-floss pink fluffiness that this kind of material requires.

So, what of the material? Well, despite over 35 years having passed since the heyday of this kind of music, AOR is quite a crowded marketplace these days and, perhaps somewhat oddly considering it started in the USA, the majority of the best current stuff appears to be European.

As such, bands have to have a certain ‘something’ to stand out from the pack. Luckily, Heart Line do have some impressive song writing chops to match their undeniable vocal and instrumental prowess.

If you’re a fan of any of the classic AOR/Melodic Rock bands mentioned above, then you’ll know exactly what you’re going to get from this album.

All of the tracks have that warm and delicious familiarity that AOR fans love so much. There are absolutely no surprises in store in any of these tracks and if that’s what you like, then you’ll absolutely love this album.

Like much of the best AOR, most of the tracks kinda sound a little bit like something you’ve heard before but can’t quite put your finger on. Two or three listens in and it’s a cast-iron guarantee that you’ll be grinning from ear to ear at the monstrous choruses on tracks like ‘Night in Paradise,’ ‘Fire Dance’ and the killer ‘I’m In Heaven’.

Minutes later, you’ll be air-guitaring like a maniac to the shredding solo in ‘On Fire and punching the air to the ridiculously infectious hooklines that fill ‘Back in the Game’ and then you’ll be dragging out the old cigarette lighter to wave in the air during the delicate acoustic introduction to the album’s power ballad ‘Once In A Lifetime’ (which pushes the saccharine levels to the max with superlatively over the top keyboard orchestration) and the delightful ‘In The City’ which is so smooth it should have a ‘fluffy keyboard overdose’ warning. It’s quality all the way here and no mistake!

Overall, with Back In The Game, Heart Line have an album which can happily rival the best that the current AOR scene has to offer and if you love any or all of the classic bands mentioned above and have a fondness for any of the many Swedish bands currently plying their trade with this kind of thing, you’ll find a huge amount to enjoy in this album.

So my advice would be to get this album on the stereo, crack open a cold one, kick back with the volume on 10 and party like it’s 1987 all over again!

On Fire” is the first single from French AOR band HEART LINE from the album “Back In The Game” (out November 19th, 2021).

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