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Brazen Abbot

A Decade of Brazen Abbot DVD

Review by Mike Korn

The name of Brazen Abbot is not all that well known in America but if you were to judge the band by this combined concert/documentary DVD, you'd think they were one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Well, even if you are not, act like you are and maybe success will follow. That seems to be the rule on this well-produced and very inclusive look at the band.

Bulgarian guitar wizard Nikolo Kotzev is without a doubt the guiding force behind this group and he has assembled an extremely talented and professional group of musicians to bring Brazen Abbot to life. The band features a revolving cast of characters with Kotzev at the center, including several outstanding lead singers. What's nice about this release is that it pays tribute to ALL members of Brazen Abbot, past and present. This doesn't look like a band with a lot of personality conflicts or ego trips.

The group specializes in hard driving melodic rock in the vein of Rainbow, Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Yngwie. Not exactly the hippest style of music right now, but Brazen Abbot could care less. It's obvious after watching this that they are easily the equal of any of the above named bands. In fact, the concert footage here features former Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner as the singer and this veteran does a killer job. His voice hasn't aged or cracked a bit since the days more than two decades ago when he first sang "Stone Cold" with Rainbow...a song that Brazen Abbot covers here in excellent fashion. With his mop of hair and sunglasses, Turner could be seen as a kind of rock star cliche but after watching the whole video, another word comes to mind...showmanship.

The concert footage comes from a variety of sources, but mainly from a sold out show played in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The hall is packed to the rafters and the stage show looks as expensive and well mounted as anything you'd see at the House of Blues here in the States. A lot of material from the Brazen Abbot album "Guilty as Sin" is touched on, including the powerful opening thrust of "Mr. Earthman," the superb Purple-like "Supernatural" with its unforgettable hooks and the Middle Eastern tinged epic "Guilty As Sin," which the band really excels on. Nikolo Kotzev is a brilliant lead guitarist who doesn't have to stand in the shadow of Blackmore, Malmsteen or anybody else. He has mastered the old school style of rock guitar soloing but has the restraint not to go off the deep end as a certain Mr. Yngwie has been known to do now and then. He has the stage mannerisms of a seasoned professional.

The other band members also demonstrate their talents. Bass player Wayne Banks is a bit of a kook with his extroverted style and headbanging that wouldn't be out of place at a thrash metal show. At one point, he stage dives into the crowd and breaks the nose of a young girl, whom he apologizes profusely to back on stage. That would be a lawsuit and probably the end of Brazen Abbot in the States, but I doubt the Bulgarians are so litigious. Drummer Thomas Broman is an extremely hard-hitting timekeeper and I was very impressed with his performance here. The band is rounded out by keyboardist Lars Pollack, who definitely seems to be in the Jon Lord mode.

Some of the more interesting concert bits involve footage of an Abbot concert in the pouring rain in front of enthusiastic fans, the aforementioned "Stone Cold" which is actually performed during a Bulgarian TV talk show with the bald-headed host smiling on the sidelines, and an acoustic "I'll Be Free", which would be corny arena rock balladry in the hands of musicians less talented than Kotzev and Turner. The concert footage winds up with a spirited and heavy "Road To Hell," which sounds an awful lot like "Highway Star" by Purple.

The documentary footage focuses on a restrained and articulate Kotzev describing his vision of Brazen Abbot and giving the virtues of various contributors to the project. This part of the DVD is interwoven with the concert footage and gives a very thorough overview of the band, though it is pretty dry and humorless. Mr. Kotzev is a likable guy but not exactly a barrel of laughs and you won't see the usual goofy road hi-jinx on display here. We get some brief interviews not only with Turner (who is revealed as a conspiracy buff) but with fellow Abbot lead singers Goran Edman of Yngwie fame and the very hot Jorn Lande, who may be the best single voice in hard rock right now.

This is a thorough introduction to one of the best hard rock/melodic metal bands working right now and it succeeds not only in showing Brazen Abbot's talents in the live setting, but in convincing you that these guys are truly a top level band able to hang with the big boys.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at https://garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2005.

 
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