In Central Europe lies a little country called Croatia. Most Americans have barely heard of it, unfortunately, and most Europeans, aside from those in Croatia of course, often forget about it. But music can come from any place in the world, and from the heart of Croatia comes the power trio of Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects. And what a fun band! When mainstream sounds are so recycled and watered down over in America, and Britain still seems to think that if you are not Oasis you are irrelevant, it is great to see this country spur some real ingenious talent.
The group’s sound is a mixture of many of the popular sounds witnessed in American music. It is as if the group collectively adventured through the online forums, Last.fm, and SoundCloud to handpick elements from many famed bands and acts.
The group’s full-length release on Zeta Factory ‘Counter Clockwise’ has the band running clockwise and on all cylinders. The typical formula here is one of soft balladry, followed by a building up of the instrumentation, and the eventual climax and drop. ‘driving Force’ is the best example of this, in that it begins with a powerful lead melody, and builds to an all out rock and roll track straight from the metallic 80’s British rock invasion.
The front man channels his own Rob Halford on album highlight ‘What is Underneath,’ culminating in one of the biggest explosions on the album. There is a lot of melodic power-riffing this way of late Opeth, particularly on ‘Driving Force’.
The vocals are clean, but that should not scare away fans who are deterred by such a sound. The band is not pretending to be a melodic death metal band. There sound is more approachable, which could by extension alienate metal heads, but welcome those not truly primed for the most aggressive of metal.
But metal is not the only item at admission. There is a sure pop/metal sound. The front man further channels Avenged Sevenfold type sounds with his gritty vocal approach, and the band gets very technical on tracks like ‘Gifted Life’ which recalls some of the math/rock elements of ‘Protest the Hero’ or ‘Dillinger Escape Plan.’
Ultimately, Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects is a win/win for everyone. For those unaccustomed to outright metal, the band eases you in with building crescendos and clean riffing. The ballads are harmonizing and organic, and the hooks are plentiful when the band opts for a more pop persuasion. In all, the band finds a nice groundwork for themselves with their own concoction of hard rock. It is by no means a reinvention of the wheel, but it should appease fans of Disturbed, Velvet Revolver, and Foreigner- bands that choose to remain classic rock in an era where it becomes synonymous with cheesiness. The group is by no means cheesy, as their sound erupts and expounds in all the right places.
For More info: http://www.ivanmihaljevic.com
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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