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Brazen Abbot - "Guilty As Sin"
SPV 2003

Bulgarian guitar wizard Nikolo Kotzev strikes with Brazen Abbot for the fourth time. Nikolo didn't want to take any compromise here and decide to invite experienced and highly talented musicians, who are crystal clear about real rock and roll. Those three guys were also drafted by vocal god Glenn Hughes in 1994 when this giant of rock promoted his studio effort "From Now On..."live around the world. "Guilty As Sin" therefore features three ex-Europe members drummer Ian Hauglund, bassist John Leven and organist Mic Michaeli.

What's more! Guitar finger flicker thought about everything and choose three leather vocals, three strong but very different individuals. We have twelve songs and every singer performs four of them. First one is ex-Deep Purple, ex-Rainbow, ex-Malmsteen's Rising Force immortal grand master Joe Lynn Turner. Second among them is vocal spitfire Jorn Lande (Masterplan, Beyond Twilight, ex-Ark, ex-The Snakes). Who's third? To get higher contrast Nikolo decided for Goran Edman ex-Malmsteen's "Alchemy" and "Eclipse" singer with cleaner and softer voice, that can explode with full force whenever he is ordered to.

As I mentioned, dynamic contrast between songs is fully achieved. This is first class one hour manifestation of pure hard rock. Kotzev built his songs (with exception of two ballads) on straight killer riffs that are pushed in front of production. Guitars are "vampire-ized", yet sounding crystal clear. Rhythm line works fluid where it is need to (opener One Life To Live, Slip Away, Mr Earthman, Supernatural) and helps Nikolo's power voltage to gets even more intensity. Strengthened with addition of organ and tasty back vocals overall sound is resulting in development of full massive sound wall that maintains atmosphere on a really high level all the time. Rhythm line enters now and then into more heavy metal fashioned conclusions especially inside high velocity speeder Eyes On The Horizon. This song carries also some familiarities with neo progressive metal (for example Symphony X). Title track contains apocalyptic ending in its long fade out where Nikolo did not forget about addition of gypsy violin sounds. It charges and upgrades all the time from first to the last beat of a record where it boils in Mozart meets mad gypsy violin final crossfire soloing with intense riffing wall in background.

All three vocalists adopt soulfully all the time and use magnificently their talents for constant improvising. They spice things up with air piercing and spine tingling shouts (especially outstanding Lande). Passionate and lustful Lande's vocal is sometimes really pushed to the highest limits (A Whole Lotta Woman) where it sounds almost brutal, while Edman blisters especially in neo rock ballad Eve with bringing cold feel inside acoustical Hawaii rhythm basic that provides a great sound and mood contrast. Edman surprisingly reminds sometimes a bit on Glenn Hughes, because of his improvising style. I found experienced J.L. Turner's performance as most convincible. He collides on a best possible way to the Nikolo's songwriting and song assembling. Whenever singer enters into certain motive it seems as if Kotzev and Turner invented the best formula in bringing working chemistry convincible alive.

Well, I think we could all survive without cheesy cliché ballad I'll Be Free, while the rest of record achieves high quality standards of true hard rock meltdown. Nikolo lays some baroque driven arpeggio outbursts down the guitar neck, yet switches in next moment into "softer" and bluesier classic Rainbow-Whitesnake oriented soloing. Feel conquers technical skills. This last notice about Whitesnake, concerns also for riffing. "Guilty As Sin" is a must for all lovers of Y.J. Malmsteen meets Rainbow meets Whitesnake.

Author:   Ale¹

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