The Croatian guitarist extraordinaire, Ivan Mihaljević has released his first solo effort and if this is an indication of things to come than the territory inhabited by Petrucci, Vai and Satriani has a new resident. With skill and the songwriting ability to compete with any of those mentioned above, Ivan gives you a dynamic guitar disc that even offers something else, he can sing too!!
Kicking the disc off with two instrumentals, the first is the title track "Sandcastle" which reminds me of Eric Johnson's "White Cliffs of Dover" and the second is a beautifully done melodic work called "Cascading Mirrors" which has so many musical facets you will unearth new gems with each listen. He has a great technical ability and with a terrific melodic sense, Ivan has made a winner. Not only this song but the album as a whole is a very creative piece of work.
Like a ship on an ocean of metal, Ivan takes you to many different musical ports on his travels. From the heaviness of the instrumental bruiser "Bulldozer" to the more AOR radio friendly "Distant World", he bridges many types of music but they all have one thing in common, a core sound rooted in heavy metal. Even with the two part "Questions In My Mind" he gives you different attitudes as he attacks part one with a very electric front and then in the epilogue switches to a beautiful acoustic style, Ivan shows the ability to stretch his musical boundaries far beyond what he has done with his band Hard Times. Fans of the band will recognize his work but will be surprised to hear some of the different avenues he travels down here.
I have found this a very satisfying and tasty treat. Any fan of melodic metal will take to this work and wonder why he isn't a household name. I listen to the great guitar licks on songs like "Spring" "Shimmering Karma" and "Macedonian War Song" and drool at the ability this guy has. It is not often that you find this kind of technical ability combined with the melodic sense to pull off more than a cool guitar solo so it is something to relish when you do. Other than a slight miscue with the overwhelming synthesizers on "Hi-Tech Orient" this is an album where you can just sit back and enjoy some great heavy metal. He might sing about being on "The Road To Nowhere" but in reality he is taking a path to the top of the mountain if this CD is any indication.
2. Cascading Mirrors
3. Distant World
5. Questions In My Mind (part 1)
6. Hi-Tech Orient
7. Questions In My Mind (part 2)
10. Macedonian War Song
12. Shimmering Karma
13. The Road To Nowhere