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Jelusick - 'Follow The Blind Man'.


Jeusick

I first became aware or Croatian powerhouse vocalist Dino Jelusick when I reviewed his band Animal Drive’s excellent debut album ‘Bite!’, released by Frontiers Records in 2018. Jelusick has also toured with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and sang on albums by Michael Romeo, Lords Of Black’s Tony Hernando and George Lynch’s Dirty Shirley project (also on Frontiers), before more recently joining Whitesnake as touring keyboardist/backing vocalist.

Now, Animal Drive’s sophomore album was supposed to be released in 2020, but a lawsuit between Frontiers and Dino Jelusick relating to contract issues meant that the band Animal Drive could no longer exist. Moving onto 2023, and we now have Jelusick the band; ‘Follow The Blind Man’ is their debut album, but for all intents and purposes it’s what should have been the second Animal Drive album - I’m really happy Escape have picked this up, because it’s bloody brilliant!

So ‘... Blind Man’ picks up where ‘Bite!’ left off whilst also broadening the sound considerably; ‘Bite!’ flirted with some Prog flourishes, but the first three tracks on this album, ‘Reign Of Vultures’, ‘Died’ and ‘Animal Inside’, noticeably expand on the Progressive arrangements and also increase the heaviness, though always remaining melodic and accessible. The title track that follows is an exceptionally emotional, epic ballad, however from thereon in the likes of ‘What I Want’, ‘The Healer’, ‘Fly High Again’ and ‘Acid Rain’ settle into more of an up-tempo Heavy Rock groove, juxtaposing heaviness and melody perfectly, with the latter featuring a few unexpected Death Metal growls from Dino during the breakdown! This series of high-octane numbers is punctuated by the soaring ballad ‘The Great Divide’, while the album closes with ‘The Bitter End’, a plaintive piano/vocal ballad with stirring orchestral accompaniment – just lovely!

The rhythm section is new, but thankfully guitarist Ivan Keller has remained, as this guy is an outstanding talent who delivers some quite scorching but beautifully melodic solos, and as for Mr Jelusick himself; well, not only is he an impressive multi-instrumentalist, but he possesses a quite extraordinary voice with phenomenal range and power, an ability that’s used to it’s full potential through this album. If you liked Animal Drive then you’re going to love this first offering from Jelusick; if you’ve never heard ‘Bite!’ before – well, what are you waiting for? I guarantee you’ll rate ‘Follow The Blind man’ just as highly!

 

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