Now And Then/Frontiers Records (Europe) - 2002

SLAV SIMANIC - Let It Go 9/10
(Frontiers/Now & Then - 2002)

By Dave Attrill

The world never seems to fall short of guitar geniuses these days and it's not just the States, Sweden, or Canada that provide the talents either. Yugoslavian Slav Simanic has gone for a more commercial format, though, with mostly vocal fronted songs rather than just an instrumental-laden offering - not that rock albums without vox are strictly bad, by the way. And the hired voice… well oi never, that sounds loike that there Phil Naro. The bloke seems to make a living out of singing with world class status -deserving guitarists having fronted 24K alongside Von Groove man Mladen and now he's impressed Mr Simanic, currently a resident in Naro's native Toronto, enough to earn another leg to an impressive career.

The songs are lyrically, Christian-concepted matter, a style as originally established to the mainstream by 80's legends Stryper - not that they were bad, mind.

Religious rock lyrics, however, have matured a bit since Michael Sweet and mob ruled the roost, and a wide blend of attitudes, views and vibes dominate the songs along with passages quoted from the bible being used to appropriate effect. Exactly the same approaches can be used to assess Slav's stunning frettery, which by rights puts him straight up there with the major league virtuosos.

'Going Up Higher', 'Let It Go', 'The Fallen Angel', 'People Say' and 'Heaven Waits For You' are amongst the greatest tracks on this not exactly un-great CD. Steve Vai tried a similar idea with his 'Sex & Religion' album about a decade ago, a decent work as it was, but Simanic demonstrates a more skilful grip on the Christian handle.

This copy of the album also contained a disc of the first album 'Water Of Life', from back in 2000. A largely instrumental piece, it again still offered some damn fine melodic rock tunes, with or without vocals and I couldn't positively identify the singer, it sounded very much like Mr. Naro again.

I can only hope that after 'L.I.G.', Slav Simanic's third album won't be another two whole years or so in waiting. The man must get a slot at the Gods fest: he is a neglected talent who deserves more notice than he gets.