Sound — 10
"Counterclockwise" (2012) is the third and most recent offering by Croatian power rock masters Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects. This was my first exposure to the band, and I have to admit, I haven't been so impressed by a rock trio in a very long time. This album is, in one word: phenomenal. The band accomplishes what few others have been able to do create a unique and dynamic sound that breaks genre boundaries and takes the listener on a journey through their own consciousness. The mastering on "Counterclockwise" makes for a highly satisfying listening experience; the vocal production is clean and balanced without sounding overprocessed, the bass is crisp and beefy, and the drums are mixed perfectly. The songwriting and level of musicianship is astounding. Ivan's powerful solos illustrate advanced technical proficiency yet they are highly evocative and emotionally charged, which is something most shredders cannot achieve. This is especially evident in "Build Your Destiny," "Gift of Life," and "Eclipse." I was blown away by the quality of song arrangement and sound engineering. This album is truly a masterpiece by an inventive and immensely skilled band.
Lyrics — 10
As a concept album, "Counterclockwise" successfully expresses a cohesive message, as it takes on heavy subjects like betrayal, depression, and death as they relate to the current state of the world. It is an existential and philosophically minded album that demonstrates a great deal of forethought and maturity. Ivan Mihaljevic is a highly accomplished and well-established musical legend; as an impeccable singer, music producer, and virtuoso guitarist, he has shared the stage with rock icons Scorpions, The Cult, and Paul Gilbert as well as toured Europe with his hard rock band Hard Time. His incredible talent, when combined with Alen Frljak's superb drumming and Marko Kiracic's prog-influenced bass grooves results in a fantastic album that demands listening on repeat.
Overall Impression — 10
"Counterclockwise" is a must-have for fans of hard rock, power metal, or prog rock, and is an album that I will personally be listening to for years to come. It's the perfect mix of heavy and melodic, from the hard-hitting riffage in my favourite track, "Driving Force," to the acoustic interludes and soundscapes heard in "Gilded Cage." This album is mindblowingly epic, and I firmly believe that Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects is the best band to come out of Croatia! If you don't buy "Counterclockwise," you're really missing out.