Ivan Milhaljevic & Side Effects - 'Counterclockwise'

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Ivan Milhaljevic & Side Effects - 'Counterclockwise'

An impressive album worthy of your time.

Although this album was scheduled for a UK release in April this year, it has been around in Europe since the end of 2012, and one of the main surprises is that it hasn't made a bigger impact already. This is the third offering from the Croatian trio who describe themselves as 'Eclectic Rock', but are more simply known as a blues based power trio. In a similar vein the accompanying press release describes the album as "...a concept album which comments on the current state of mind and consciousness of our society and the world", well if you want to dig to deep into to the lyrical content please do, but on a more basic level this is a tremendous showcase for some stunning guitar work and vocals full of power and passion from Ivan.

Simplicity is the real key here though. After a thirty second opening track, which is more of a spoken intro, 'Build your Destiny' kicks in with a gritty, bluesy riff with its roots somewhere between Zeppelin and Rory Gallagher. There's a touch of Rush as bassist Marko Karacic and drummer Alen Frijak provide a progressive and at times funky rhythm section which allows Ivan the freedom to weave his magic. 'Driving Force' has a heavier, brooding feel before reaching a chorus that as the title suggests powers along with Maiden influences to the fore. Most impressive overall though, is the trio's ability to combine progressive rock undertones with the rawness of early rock influences, while still managing to highlight impressive and contemporary guitar work.

Although this album is undoubtedly a showcase for Ivan Mihaljevic's six-string prowess, it's much more than just another guitar album. With just one instrumental, there is ample opportunity to show his strong vocal ability and considered songwriting that deftly combines rock and blues with progressive and orchestral arrangements in the twelve minute epic 'Eclipse'. Although we do get the additional keyboards and arrangements the open, spacial qualities, even rawness of a three-piece still shine through.

So whether you want the thought provoking commentary on society, or you just want to sit back and appreciate some outstanding guitar playing, this is an impressive album worthy of your time.

Ian Parry

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