|Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock||Produced By: Slav Simanic|
|Record Label: Latter Rain||Country Of Origin: Canada|
|Year Released: 2002||Artist Website: Slav Simanic|
|Tracks: 14||Rating: 70%|
|Running Time: 58:10|
Slav Simanic, the talented Yugoslavian born guitarist currently residing in Canada, debuted in 1998 with the predominantly instrumental hard rock release Water Of Life (an album I cannot help but give a strong recommendation). Simanic returns with a sophomore effort entitled Let It Go that, while featuring more variety musically when compared to its predecessor, moves mostly in an upbeat melodic hard rock direction. A wonderfully gifted musician, Simanic showcases his talent best on the albums instrumental tracks, his fast fingered playing bringing to mind the likes of Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia), Rex Carroll (Whitecross) and Joe Satriani. On the other hand, the material that features Phil Naro on lead vocals often can comes across on the restrained side in that Simanic does not always cut loose and extend the length of his lead guitar work as best that he could. It is worth pointing out that Simanic has chosen a very capable vocalist in Naro who brings out the best in the project with a fine melodic flavored voice. (He contributed lead vocals to one track on Water Of Life.)
Let It Go stands out with a bright and sharp sounding production job. A crisp rhythm guitar and clean mix of lead guitar complements a rhythm section providing the needed punch and power.
The brief (1:20) instrumental "Holy, Holy, Holy" opens the album to narration from Revelation 4:8& 11 underlined by keyboards.
The albums hard rocking title track gets underway to an edgy rhythm guitar backed by a punchy bass line, the two swiftly driving the song to a chorus with a good catchy hook. Simanic shores up "Let It Go" with forty seconds of fast paced lead guitar work. The songs lyrics, however, can come across on the trite side:
Some say I'm a freak with the long hair
That plays rock music
The others say that weirdo with the Bible
And he's gonna lose it
"I'm Going Up Higher" moves the album in a heavier musical direction when compared to "Let It Go". Commencing to a blend of rhythm guitar and double bass, "I'm Going Up Higher" slows during its first verse before the double bass in question reinforces a strong melodic flavored chorus. At just under fifteen seconds, Simanic's lead guitar work is on the brief side.
The wonderful "You're Never Gonna Die" ranks among the albums stronger tracks. Introduced to a minute of acoustic guitar, a catchy guitar riff conveys the song in up-tempo fashion to an infectious chorus with a hook that will pull you in and refuse to let go. Simanic displays his abundant talent with an extended guitar solo underscored by double bass. "You're Never Gonna Die" talks about how Christ is the only source of eternal life:
Long ago the sacrifice was made
His precious blood was shed to make us pure
He alone can take away your pain
In Him you'll find the only cure
An acoustic guitar slowly carries the run-of-the-mill power ballad "People Say" through its verse until it picks up in pace for a chorus backed by vocal harmonies.
With its catchy up-tempo energy, "You" almost comes across Stryper-like in feel. Taking off in a fast paced manner, "You" quickly rushes forward only to gain further momentum upon reaching a non-stop-hook filled chorus. Simanic's guitar solo is very well done but is once again on the short side. The message to "You" is every bit as positive as the pace and feel to its music:
You...You touched my life and You set me free
I...Now I can see what I got to be
The ballad "Promised Land" moves in an acoustic based direction similar to "People Say" and also fails to hold up musically due to the weakness of its chorus.
The album returns to its melodic hard rock direction with "Can't Stop On A Dime". A crisp rhythm guitar pushes the song ahead until it picks up in pace for a good pop flavored chorus. I wish Simanic had expanded upon an all too brief ten second guitar solo. "Can't Stop On A Dime" highlights a simple but straightforward message:
Walk along beside me, I'm the only Light
Choose the path that's narrow
Make the choice that's right
"Disciples Of..." is a brief keyboards and guitar based instrumental that serves as an introduction to "...The Almighty".
The Satriani influenced "...The Almighty" proves in no uncertain terms Simanic is at his best when it comes to instrumental hard rock. Beginning to a fast paced guitar riff, Simanic sets the tone for the remainder of the song by cutting loose with forty-five seconds of blistering lead guitar work. A plethora of melodic rhythm guitar harmony combined with several extended guitar runs drives the song through its duration.
“See The Light”, the least noteworthy of the albums tracks to feature Phil Naro, is carried forward by an edgy rhythm guitar until it smoothly transitions to a chorus I might described as average at best. Simanic's lead guitar work is a bit short in coming in at less than fifteen seconds.
The creative power metal of "The Fallen Angel" is arguably the albums strongest composition. Immediately kicking in to an all out metal flavored guitar riff, the song advances in a driving manner during its first and second verse as Naro sings lyrics taken from Psalms 8:8 and Ezekiel 28:12-15. After a commanding voice provides narration from Revelation 12:9 & 12, "The Fallen Angel" stops dead in its tracks before launching into a double bass driven speed metal guitar riff. Simanic ensues with some of the albums best lead guitar work. The deep sounding vocal harmonies that follow give rise to a worshipful tone:
Worship The One and The Only God
Who gave to us His only Son
Who was despised by all man
Who dies for us so we don't die
"The Fallen Angel" slows as Simanic's crisp rhythm guitar combines with a bit of lead guitar to carry the song to its close.
The lengthy (6:02) instrumental "The Message Of Three Angels" gives Simanic another opportunity to display his abilities. Opening to a minute of melodic rhythm guitar harmony, a hard rocking guitar riff buttressed by double bass propels the song forward until it slows to a quietly played guitar line accentuated by keyboards. Subsequent to the double bass driven riff returning, narration from Revelation 14:7 ensues before Simanic takes the song to its conclusion with several extended guitar runs.
"Heaven Waits For You" gets started in a melodic hard rock direction as a crunchy rhythm guitar quickly carries it to a chorus advancing at a good upbeat tempo. The song, however, makes a complete time change after two and a half minutes as Naro's voice drops from the mix and gives way to a pounding riff and a bit of distorted lead guitar work. "Heaven Waits For You" fades in and out prior to closing to narration from I Corinthians 15: 51-53 & 57.
Let It Go is characterized by a frustrating lack of consistency and continuity. Including way too much filler, I cannot help but think the album would hold up in a much more noteworthy manner if it had been trimmed down to a more efficient ten songs. Simanic, at the same time, is all over the map musically. Do you like hard rock? You will find it in abundance. Ballads? There are a couple to be found. Instrumental hard rock? Just take your pick. Power metal? Sure enough. While there is nothing wrong with variety, I would like to encourage the artist next time to focus on one specific musical direction and stick with it. For example, give us an album of either all melodic hard rock or all instrumental hard rock and not a combination of the two. Or better yet, give us one of each. (If Simanic decided to record an entire album of creative power metal along the lines of “Fallen Angel" I would not complain!)
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Holy, Holy, Holy…" (1:20), "Let It Go" (4:37), "I’m Going Up Higher" (3:44), "You’re Never Gonna Die" (4:40), "People Say" (4:05), "You" (4:11), "Promised Land" (3:49), "Can’t Stop On A Dime" (4:22), "Disciples Of…" (1:43), " …The Almighty" (5:21), "See The Light" (4:08), "The Fallen Angel" (4:45), "The Message Of The Three Angels" (6:02), "Heaven Waits For You" (5:11)
Slav Simanic – Guitars & Keyboards
Phil Naro – Lead Vocals
Zsolt Henczely – Bass
Morgan Evans - Drums