Smith Kotzen

Probably, that’s one of the most anticipated albums of the year, the collaboration between the two guitarists, Iron Maiden’s emblematic Adrian Smith and the man of a 1000 and 2 projects, Richie Kotzen. I am sure that whoever is into heavy music is curious of how this collaboration would sound like, from the first moment it was announced.

As it showed from the first samples that went on YouTube, the album is much closer to Kotzen’s previous works than Smith’s day job in Maiden… Actually, the only connection with the legendary British band is the fact that Nicko McBrain plays drums on one song here (“Solar Fire”) and that the album was recorded in the Bahamas in the same studio that the Beast was using in the ‘80s and mixed by Kevin Shirley.

The bluesy funk hard rock style prevails in an album where both guitarists unfold their remarkable talent always to the point without exaggerations. They also share the vocals, where Adrian grace us with his wonderful warm voice. In general, it’s obvious that team work was the key in this collaboration with both musicians having equal roles. It’s also very impressive how the tone of their voices matches, something that might confuse the listener at first, making it hard to tell who is singing what. Also, note that Kotzen recorded the drums for all songs, except the one that McBrain is playing.

And yes, the album is very good. Maybe not for the hardcore Maiden fans who can’t see much further than their favourite band. But, every friend of rock, classic and heavy will appreciate it. Beyond their performance, the production and playing- that inevitably are of high caliber- the songs are great, showing that two musicians coming from different backgrounds found a magical chemistry and created something truly amazing.

Yiannis Dolas