Friday, August 19, 2016

Srdjan Brankovic: "Expedition: Delta"

A few weeks ago in July Current Music Thoughts reported on one of Srdjan Brankovic’s songs from his newest album “Expedition: Delta.” Both myself and the staff here at CMT loved the album so much, I’m back to talk about it more as I feel the first posting really didn’t do it justice.

The first track “Spectacular” has all the trappings of classic metal. It starts off with a high energy guitar part and snare-accented drum part. What’s interesting about this track to me is the unabashed nods to pop and even a bit of Andrew-Lloyd-Webber style melody. I mean this as a compliment as it’s done really successfully.  Of course, I talked quite a bit about “Break the Rules” in a previous review.

“Thank You for the Good Times” is a bit more power-ballad-ish. Here, we have a very heartfelt reminiscence number.  Still, Brankovic relies on his ace in the hole, which is his stellar guitar playing seen in a very virtuosic solo towards the end of the song. For a breakup song – it’s quite a bit of a more masculine take on the idea of letting go, as if saying “it wasn’t all bad, even though something led us to no longer be together.” This is quite the opposite of so many songs dwelling on what might have been.

Track number four, “Fly With Me” takes a much more orchestral approach with guitar anthems answered by synthesizer parts leading into a vicious and tough series of riffs. The vocals come in almost like an opera recitative which just works like crazy under pulsing keyboard parts. This song actually reminds me quite a lot of Japanese rock band “Mr. Children.” Again though, there is a sort of musical theater-esque quality here. Especially as the lyrics are scenario-driven.

“Canis Major” (listed as “Intermezzo by Nevena Zivkovic) is an oddity – It’s a loungy, but somewhat Chopin-like piano solo which is used as both an interlude and introduction to the song “Without You.” This song features a vocalist (the attitude driven Nicola Di Gia). It’s just as upbeat as the rest of the tracks but the addition of Di Gia’s voice makes for enough variety to provide the listener something new.

Next up is “The One Who Lives a Dream,” this song begins in a very optimistic and slower sounding languid guitar and piano line. Here, instead of using a slow intro to catapult into a more aggressive metal driven song, the meditative nature stays throughout although short interjections of guitar solos do appear in the song. “The One Who Lives a Dream” is a late-night, before sleep reflection which is echoed in the title. Like “Fly With Me” there is an orchestral/cinematic quality.

“House of God” and “Don’t Believe” continue in the similar vein of the rest of the album, high-energy, vocal driven and overall optimistic sounding. Of course, we are back with the famous guitarist Bobby Koelble, which is always a treat hearing his stellar playing.

If we don’t count the final bonus track, the album ends of the song “Remember Me.” The long sustain pads make a great underscore for the extremely cello-like guitar line.  If previous tracks weren’t orchestral enough for you, this song has you covered. At the same time there are really interesting blues-inspired interjections.  It’s more than an apt on which to end an album. My only criticism here is that it’s such a beautiful song, I wish it was longer.

Let’s talk about the bonus track: “Connected.” I guess Srdjan Brankovic decided he needed a cadenza for the album. If that sounds like a dig, it’s not – in fact, it is his guitar playing that ties the album together. “Connected” is a beautiful and upbeat way to end what is a very enjoyable experience.

“Expedition Delta” is a substantial work, full of twists and turns, at times sad, usually optimistic, always technically perfect. It offers something quite different to the world of rock – it’s a mature statement about the genre’s ability to tackle a range of issues and emotions and for that reason alone, I feel it should be applauded and enjoyed by a variety of fans. 

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