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Andrey Smirnov > Adrenaline > Reviews
Andrey Smirnov - Adrenaline

Interesting experimentation - 77%

TitaniumNK, May 22nd, 2012

Andrey Smirnov is a well-known Russian guitarist, who has been involved in many projects and been a member of many bands (Master, Epidemia, Everlost, Galaktika, etc.). Even so, his role in most of these bands was as a session guitarist, so basically he didn't get much opportunity to show all his talents. And is he talented or what... Multi-instrumentalist (he played all keyboards parts, some bass, drum programming, even vocals - more on that later) and an excellent shred guitarist - it was about time for him to start up some solo work. Not long after, we ended up with the debut album of Andrey Smirnov - ''Adrenaline''.

If I had to describe ''Adrenaline'' with one single word, that would be - experimentating. Really, it is very hard to find an album with so many songs that differ so much in style. Speedy monsters, standard ballads, instrumental experiments, even some harsh and growl vocals are to be found here. This is a great thing in my mind, because if you're making a solo album as a guitarist, why to create another generic heavy / power / shred / whatever album? Obviously, this is what Smirnov thought as well, so he decided to surprise listeners with this unconventional album. Before I conclude whether it was or wasn't successful, I've got to dissect every part of it, which will be harder than usual, because there really a lot of things going on in here...

First of all, to focus on Smirnov himself. He did a great job. His guitar playing is excellent. Although his riffs tend to sound a bit too modern (read: mallcore) for my taste, he always manages to make them interesting and more importantly, he always knows when to come up with another riff, thus not being boring and repetitive. Disturbed, this isn't. Second, his solos are very good, they bring to mind old masters such as Vai and MacAlpine, though generally the solos slower than usual shredding is. Not very much to say about his bass playing, it is just supporting the vocals and guitars. Typical. On the other hand, his keyboards are much more prominent, since this album sounds very modern, occasionally even going over the top, with some rhythm machines and electronic beats. I personally don't like it that much, and I'm pretty sure that this album will not appeal to everyone, just because of this. Oh yeah, Smirnov is doing some singing (growling) as well, but more of that...

... On the vocals debate. There are quite a few vocalists on ''Adrenaline'' - Artur Berkut (ex-Aria), Vyacheslav Sinchuk (Galaktika), Alexander Grata (Sixth Sense), Boris Golik (Extrovert) and Andrey Smirnov. Unfortunately, not everybody did their job right, nor was everyone appropriate for this album. For instance, Sinchuk absolutely sucks. His screeching is very similar to Udo (whose singing I also detest), and he's way out of place here. Luckily, we only get to hear him twice - on ''На Ладонях у Мечты'' (excellent song, by the way), and on mediocre ballad ''Одна Роль На Двоих''. On the other hand, Berkut is as good as always, even though his range, stamina and voice power seem to diminish the more the years go by. The pleasant surprise is Alexander Grata - his unusual, raspy, gritty voice on ''Мeртвые Души'' really adds something special to the song. This is his only appearance, but a very impressive one. Smirnov's growling on ''Среди Руин'' is quite unnecessary, much like the song itself, and Boris Golik didn't make the situation much better. What was supposed to be one one of the most intriguing songs on the album, turned out to be one of the worst. Oh my.

Finally, the songs. For most of the time, the songs are really good - the mighy opener ''Время Ветра'' boasts one of the most energizing choruses I've heard in a while. Then there are the aforementioned ''Мeртвые Души'', ''На Ладонях у Мечты'' and the great ballad, the potential hit ''Листья''. The interesting thing is that Artur Berkut is doing vocals on, let's be honest, probably the most memorable tracks on this album, and that's saying how many respect and trust Smirnov had in Berkut. Of course, Berkut was up to the task, and if Smirnov is planning to release some more solo albums in the future (I don't see why he wouldn't), Berkut should always be his first choice.

Oh, yeah, the instrumentals ''Adrenaline'' and ''The Fourth Dimension''. In these tracks Smirnov mixes modern, industrial-like riffs with some electronic elements. ''The Fourth Dimension'' was succesful, ''Adrenaline'' not so much. What bugs me the most about these songs is the presence of rhythm machine. I loathe that. Oleg ''Cobra'' Khovrin was certainly more than competent to play these beats and to add some creative touch to them, but I guess that Smirnov just wanted to see what's he like behind the mixer.

In the end, this album may not be perfect or a masterpiece, but it is certainly interesting and intriguing enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. Trve metalheads should stay away from this, but the fans of experimental acts such as Senmuth would certainly want to hear this mix of past and present embodied in ''Adrenaline'', and I recommend it to them.