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The Big Deal – First Bite

The Big Deal
First Bite
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 25 July 2022, 2:36 PM

THE BIG DEAL, featuring two outstanding vocalists, offers up a catchy, driving sound that will appeal to both melodic rock and hard rock fans. They came together when guitarist, composer, and producer Srdjan Brankovic and his wife Nevena Brankovic, who is an academic pianist and singer, met singer Ana Nikolic. Ana had spent the past few years fronting local bands, but after meeting Srdjan and Nevena, they started collaborating in the studio together. While working on some new ideas, Srdjan thought it would be interesting to include Ana's vocals in addition to Nevena's in the recordings they were working on. After a couple of songs were finished, they were overjoyed with the results and thus some of their first demos were born. These would eventually morph into the music that was presented to Frontiers and ultimately got them signed. Their debut album contains eleven tracks.

“Never Say Never” is the first cut. The music is energetic and rich, though a bit dark or hasty if you will, and the vocals are very well done. The piano outro is also a bit different. “I Need You Here Tonight” is also a fast-moving song with vocal harmonies and enough going on in the instrumentation to support the lead vocals, which reach quite high. The guitar solo is also very well done, following the main melody line. “Sensational” begins with a heavy dose of keys and a very catchy and crunchy riff. Piano notes flow freely here as the vocalists duet in grand fashion. The album got off to a bit of a slow stars, but this song is outstanding.

“Top Heaven” is another raucous offering thick with keys and the strong vocal performance of Ana. So far, these songs are quite short and although they are energetic, they are over before you know it. “Wake the Fire” features a mid-tempo riff and some more emotion. The chorus is catchy and thick with vocal harmonies. The sound is thickened in the second verse, and we have another hit here. “In the Dead of the Night” is the shortest on the album, clocking in at just over three-minutes in length. It’s a burner and Ana’s vocals sound as good as any song on the album. The backing keys are also well done, but I wish they were featured more prominently. “Rebel Lady” is more in line with what I am talking about. Keyboards are featured in the opening sequence and the vocal harmonies are on point. When she reaches into the upper ranges, her voice remains clear and steady.

“Power On” showcases Ana’s talents most clearly. She opens with song with a loud and high scream, and she really has some pipes. The lead guitar work is also very strong here. “Bad Times, Good Times” is a strong, catchy song with broad vocal harmonies and some harmonies in the guitar work. The sound is a little more poignant, in conjunction with the title, and the piano notes are quite charming. “Lady of the Night” closes the album, with a big and open sound from a tough and rumble riff. The keys are also strong in the mix, but are inexplicably absent at times. I say shove them down your throat; I like what keyboards can bring to AOR.

Frontiers music seems to be rich with these types of bands, and this AOR sound has come back in a big way lately. Some of them are hits, while others are misses. With the vocal talents of Ana Nikolic, this album couldn’t be a miss. You build the band around the vocalist, and in this case, rightly so. The supporting case are all capable musicians, but that doesn’t mean they are solid songwriters…but I think they are. It’s a good album, but could be better if the band took some chances here and there.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Never Say Never
2. I Need You Here Tonight
3. Sensational
4. Top Heaven
5. Wake the Fire
6. In the Dead of the Night
7. Rebel Lady
8. Power On
9. Bad Times, Good Times
10. Fallen
11. Lady of the Night
Ana Nikolic –Vocals
Nevena Brankovic – Vocals/Keyboards
Srdjan Brankovic – Guitars
Marko Milojevic – Drums
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Bass
Record Label: Frontiers Music SRL


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