Another BA album from Bulgarian guitarist Nikolo Kotzev, who is famous for recruiting high profile names for his projects, last one being Nostradamus opera couple of years back . He’s worked with plenty of talented vocalists before and on ”Guilty As Sin,” he’s again hooked up with Jorn Lande, Göran Edman and Joe Lynn Turner who all appeared on Nostradamus. Impressive list of singers with previous gigs including Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen and Masterplan among others, they take on and sing 4 tracks each. Other musicians once again include the Europe rhythm section, John Leven on bass, Ian Haugland on drums and Mic Michaeli on keys. Kotzev himself plays various range of instruments, guitar, keyboards, percussion etc. According to Kotzev’s liner notes, most of these songs were written from painful personal experiences and lyrics definitely reflect a certain sadness.
But let’s go through it track-by-track first:
One Life To Live
Great opener, classic hard rock sound with Turner taking the lead. This sounds very much like any number of tracks from Turner’s HTP album. There’s a slightly different keyboard sound here but other than that this song could have been there.
Eye On The Horizon
Another slower but solid piece. Lande sings this one and I noticed the chorus sounds quite close to Jorn’s own track “Starfire.” I instantly connected the two songs there, though other than that they are clearly different. And also Kotzev plays a blinding guitar solo here.
I’ll Be Free
First ballad and seems a bit out of place here, being the third song on the album. It’s Edman’s turn and he sings fine, although I have to admit this song didn’t set my world on fire. Not bad but after the first listen I found myself pressing the skip button..;)
Now this is great! Excellent up-tempo track, with fantastic choirs, melodies, guitar/keyboard interplay and awesome vocals by JLT. The best so far!
Opens with very Deep Purple type of organ sound and then moves on to Stormbringer and earlier styled Whitesnake. It’s kind of cool to hear this type of classic material done in 2003.
With choirs and multiple backing vocals, this one sounds like a left-over from Nostradamus. A good track still, although the lyrics are stupid in places: “Like Jonah was swallowed by that fish, unintentionally became the dish.” Oh well.., 😉
Bring The Colors Home
It’s Whitesnake-time again with “Still Of The Night” thrown in at the beginning and later becomes very AOR-style ballad. Nothing special here.
Again references to Nostradamus-project in sound and style. A bit like 1970’s UFO as well. A solid track.
Excellent song! Another belter from Turner. This song has a great drive and superb chorus once again. Reminds me of Bent Out Of Shape-era Rainbow.
Led Zeppelin? Sounds like it in places, melodic and emotional ballad sung by Edman. Highlight of the slower songs here.
Whole Lotta Woman
Well, this must be the closest rip-off of 1980’s Whitesnake I’ve ever heard! Right down to lyrics and everything. And of course with Lande singing he sounds like a carbon copy of David Coverdale. Can’t name an exact song, but you know “Fool For Your Lovin’” “Slide It In” etc…Good track but not too original.
Guilty As Sin
One of the best songs on the album, and also the heaviest with one of my favourite guitar riffs in a long time appearing at the four minute mark. There’s something instantly familiar with this song like many others on the record, Deep Purple’s “Mistreated” comes to mind and some other track I can’t for the life of me remember. Anyway, Turner does good work with vocals but maybe Jorn should have sang this epic, could have been even more menacing. But this is just a minor thing. Towards the end there’s some neatly arranged violins and other instruments placed on top of the guitar riffing. Brilliant and a perfect way to end this album!
Conclusions…this is a very good album. Sound is clear and crisp, all musicians do great work and there’s definitely a touch of something special here. Despite the use of different vocalists, the whole thing sounds very much complete. One funny thing I noticed after listening was that the songs sung by JLT are clearly the strongest on the album, while Edman’s are “least good.” (except “Eve” – that one’s great) Jorn’s tracks seem to be somewhere in the middle.
Anyways, some critics might say we have all heard this before, and certainly if you are looking for something completely new from these artists maybe you should look elsewhere. Because nothing new, nothing earth shattering can be found here. You could even go as far as saying they rip off various artists here. But that shouldn’t matter if the songs are good, and if you are into classic, well-played heavy/hard rock in vein of old Rainbow, Deep Purple, Whitesnake or UFO then Guilty As Sin is strongly recommended!
01.One Life To Live
02.Eye On The Horizon
03.I’ll Be Free
07.Bring The Colors Home
11.Whole Lotta Woman
12.Guilty As Sin