He is an axeman who brings a swift kick in the ass to all things hard rock - delivering the goods on the six strings with tunes that we all can relate to - not going overboard with, say an Arabian folk-meets-metal track or a jazz cut here; it's just a hard rock/melodic metal album that like his last record, Straight, which bridges the gap between the edgy vibe of a singer/songwriter with an attitude and a guitarist who can play the hell out of his instrument.
Laying Down the Law
by Tommy “Hashman” Hash
Having released two instrumental releases, guitarist Milan Polak took his music to another level with the release of his 2007 record, Straight, an album that "keeps the true sound of hard rock in full force," continuing the stance of "keeping the spirit of the real guitar hero alive," but making us get up and shout as well; and with his second vocal record, Murphy's Law (Lion Music); it gets personal lyrically - in a world that isn't perfect.
"I wouldn’t say it was a decision. I guess, it’s just the way I write and compose… Only this time I wanted to create a more modern sound and also implement more of the guitar virtuoso aspect again," begins Polak on the continuation of the singer/songwriter meets guitar shredder mantra, "When I wrote “Straight” I wanted to get away from the instrumental, guitar hero image. I really wanted to make this clear so I stripped down everything - no effects, no over the top guitar playing, hence the title and the cover of me naked with just my guitar. This time I wanted to take it from there and move on, resulting in a more modern sound using loops, adding more backing vocals and last but not least bringing back the virtuoso aspect of my playing."
The lyrics of the records hit home in a more direct matter; no syrupy bubblegum tunes, no spaceship fantasies, or anything like that, it's all about real life, something that we can relate to, "Seriously, I don’t think the world needs another “I love you, you love me, we are all so happy” songwriter," explains Polak, "There’s enough of that BS out there. I deal with reality, not dreams, the aspects of life that you can relate to if you weren’t born with a silver spoon. The hard reality that the rest of us have to face and live with every day, like the credit crunch and its aftermath for example but also other things like mass manipulation of media, religion, etc. And the last song of the CD “The Mystery Of Life” basically sums it all up. If you were to listen to only one song of “Murphy’s Law”, I’d recommend checking out that one."
Hearing how he has released instrumental shred records in the past - it can be night and day when comparing and album that is a collection of songs rather than a collection of compositions, which in the case it's the 'song', "I always try to write music with melodies that are easy to be memorized even when the music is heavy. I try to have lines that can be sung, I am not a shouter. When I write a song I usually also have a certain sound in mind. My main influence is life per se. I compose what drives me. So instead of having a certain band or music inspire me, I rather go with whatever hits me whenever it hits me. It could happen while I’m noodling around on my guitar but most of the time it happens when I’m asleep or in the process of waking up. I have a virtual sheet of paper popping up in my head and write down the music, just like composers such as Mozart did. Then when I wake up I just “pull out” that piece of paper, grab a guitar and there you go."
On this record, he worked with bassist/producer Fabio Trentini & drummer Simon Michael, forming this power-trio alliance, it's been a good collaboration as the end result has proven, "Fabio Trentini and I have already done a few things together in the past. He played half of all the basses on my album Straight," elaborates Polak, "I played on one of his songs on his last album, we toured together with an Italian band, we did Subway To Sally’s album Bastard together and some other things. He is a great bassist and musician but also a successful producer with some gold & platinum records hanging on his wall. He would always push me to new levels saying things like, “you know that’s a good riff for a normal guitarist but now go ahead and make it a Milan Polak riff” or “yeah, that’s a nice vocal line but it sounds a bit square”, etc. He added some loops & sounds and basically co-produced and mixed the whole album. Simon Michael and I met when we co-wrote and recorded the album Bastard for the German band Subway To Sally. He is a great drummer with great technique but what’s even more important to me is that he is very musical. He never plays for the sake of showing off, he always plays for the song – he is very mature musically. I have to say he was my favorite choice for this album. With all the respect to all the other great musicians I have worked with so far but I have never been more satisfied in my life than I am with Murphy’s Law."
Other than his own material, the man does stay busy various things, although there are no plans to record another instrumental record at this point in time; nevertheless, he gives interesting insight on how the industry is electing new artists in this day and age in the era of American Idol, "Besides writing and recording jingles for TV & radio once in a while, there’s not much I do these days apart from writing my own music," says Polak, "I was asked to compose stuff for other artists by a German publishing company after the success of Bastard. But I got sick of writing music for some guy who just got a record deal with a major company and can’t even sing or play an instrument properly, less write his own songs. Now you might ask how this was possible but I tell you this is how the business works these days: you win a fucking casting show or some guy at the record company decides to create a band in the style of whatever and that’s how they create “stars” – desperate wannabes who’d do everything for 5 minutes of fame but can’t play, sing or write a song. I was like, “Hey, why don’t you give me a record deal instead? Seems like my songwriting is good enough to use it for others and I don’t look like the hunchback of Notre-Dame either…” That’s what my song “Wannabes” is about. This whole biz has just become a big fucking joke. I have realized that to be a musician you can either be a whore and work for money or do your own stuff. You get away with working for others for some time (and yes, I did that too) but in the long run it kills your inspiration. Excuse this comparison but I don’t think a prostitute comes home after work saying, “Honey I’m home, please fuck me as hard as you can right now…!” if you know what I’m saying. I’d rather do my own stuff and make less money than give away my inspiration & creativity to others. I realized it makes me happier in the long run. This doesn’t mean that I am not open to collaborations or new ideas though… And I am not talking about joining a big band like Metallica or playing guitar for Ozzy either – that’s a different story."
Through his solo albums and various projects, he has, like many musicians, seen himself evolve as a player, " I’d say that even though I’m capable of playing a lot of different styles and I also enjoy different kinds of music, I have learned to manage to stay more focused. I don’t feel like I need to proof anything to anyone. If you want to hear me play at 300 bpm, go buy my album Guitar Odyssey or Dreamscapes (both Lion Music), if you want to hear me play over complicated fusion/jazz changes go buy “J.A.M.” (Liquid Note Records). Been there, done that. These days I am trying to create the perfect blend of rock music for “normal” people and musicians and I really feel I managed to do so on my new album “Murphy’s Law”."
And what about the gear he has used over the years? A lot of stuff of course, as he explains, "Well, it depends. I don’t have one favorite guitar or amp. I usually use different stuff. When I record I usually have a certain sound in mind and I know exactly what guitar and what amp to use. On the new album I used Yamaha guitars exclusively. They gave me a bunch of guitars and I was able to cover all my different sound ideas with them. As far as effects go I used some cool stuff on Murphy’s Law. I received some great pedals from Dunlop/MXR and also T-Rex, a company from Denmark who has been very supportive. I have to say that I am very fortunate in this aspect – I work with some of the greatest companies such as DiMarzio and the ones already mentioned and all of them really treat me very well. String-wise I have been playing handmade strings by Thomastik-Infeld for many, many years. I used a really cool preamp by Damage Control for the demos and also direct recordings as well as an amp that TubeThomsen gave me. That’s a little company in the north of Germany, which produces some of the best boutique amps. Live I played Engl amps on my last tour. I recently hooked up with them and hope for a long and prosperous collaboration."
With the world economy in rough shape, it's hard for any band to get out on the road - there are hopes to go out on the road and play some gigs or even clinics, "(playing live) I hope so… haha Unfortunately, it seems to become harder & harder to play live these days. You basically have 2 categories: those who are already big and cover bands. If you belong to neither of those two it seems to be quite impossible to get good gigs less put a tour together. And the whole situation with the financial crisis and clubs closing down doesn’t make things much easier… I would love to have a decent booking agency. So, let’s hope for the best and see what happens after the release of Murphy’s Law… As far as clinics & seminars go, I am trying to put something together with 2 other great musicians at the moment. I have started to talk to one of my endorsement companies but it seems like nobody wants to spend any money in these financially insecure days."
And as for the future, Milan Polak just wants to take it one day at a time, test the waters and see how everything goes; so in the meantime, if you are into stripped back melodic hard rock/metal in the vein of Russell Allen's Atomic Soul, Joe Lynn Turner, Thin Lizzy, Blue Murder, and Gary Moore's metal stuff, this album is certainly worth checking out. "I need to see what happens with Murphy’s Law," concludes Polak about the future, "I will do promo, interviews, etc. The first reactions & reviews have been great so far. If nothing unforeseen happens in my life I will continue to write and work on my own material – nothing more, nothing less, I guess. In fact, I have already started to write new songs for my next album. If you have to take care of everything yourself it is kind of difficult to release a record every year and I don’t want to have another 2 years again in between now and my next album. So, I’m really trying to avoid that this time. Let’s see how I’ll do…"
Artist: Milan Polak
Label: Lion Music
Reviewer: Chris Piccirillo www.progscape.com
| Track List:
Favorite Vice (04:38)
Some Kind Of Jesus (03:51)
All I Want (04:25)
Superstar Mania (04:17)
Happy Now? (03:12)
I Don't Care (04:39)
Free After All (03:41)
The Glowing Of A Cigarette (05:07)
The Austrian born guitarist Milan Polak has been involved in many aspects of the music spectrum, from shred guitar releases to producing 90’s dance acts to working with Falco (yes, the Rock Me Amadeus guy). His take on music comes from his upbringing and constant movement during his youth. He’s lived in Korea, Kenya, Saudi-Arabia, Germany, Singapore, Italy and the US really giving him a look into many cultures and styles of music.
On this CD, Milan eschewes the world music touches for straight ahead rock and roll. Think Van Halen, Bad Company, Extreme, Ozzy and AC/DC with a modern touch and a guitar master at the helm. His bluesy voice is a wonderful asset to turn guitar rock into a radio-worthy release. The tremendous backing musicians behind him undoubtedly add tons of attitude and skill to these tracks. They play together as if the band has been in existence for years.
The songs basically fall into a few catagories from straight (no pun intended) ahead hard rock to acoustic ballads and blues rock. Standouts include the groovy and bluesy “Superstar Mania” and “The Glowing of A Cigarette”, the anthemic “Difference”, and the Kings X influenced “Free After All”.
This is a great debut vocal CD for Milan and the songs are all solid rock tunes infusing great playing and solid songwriting. If you’re a fan of the hard and bluesy rock genres, this CD is a straight up winner (Ok, that pun was intended).
Milan Polak (Guitar, Vocals)
Randy Coven (Bass)
John Macaluso (Drums)
Fabio Trentini (Bass)
|| Milan POLAK: "Straight" 8
Lion Music 2007
Review by the Bailey Brothers
18 July 2007
Having heard some of these songs whilst they were still in the womb it’s great to finally see them spring to life in Milan Polak’s debut vocal album “STRAIGHT”. The first thing you hear as the album starts is Polak on his own with no instruments singing a cool vocal harmony. The opener DIFFERENCE is a well structured ditty with a cool repetitive groove, open spaces for the vocals on the verses and a catchy chorus.
Polak decided not to record everything in Germany and self financed a trip to New York to team up with Randy Coven (Bass) and John Macaluso (drums). They have added to the energy and band vibe that is evident throughout the album (Fabio Trentini played bass on 6 songs and those bass tracks were recorded in Germany). It nearly all back fired when some of the recordings wouldn’t work in Milan’s studio and he had to re-record 2 guitar tracks again as some files disappeared forever.
In terms of production, musicianship and songs STRAIGHT ticks all he right boxes. It’s a very dry raw sounding album with Polak’s sleeve introduction claiming no effects as though they were the Devil.
CROSSES is a Sleazy funky groove going down with a big hook for the chorus. The brilliant grungy SOME KIND OF JESUS is one of our favorite numbers. All I WANT is a bluesy ballad that produces a controlled mellow vocal that Polak delivers on par with many already established great vocalists. SUPER STAR MANIA has a funky 70’s type hippie style floating in on the scene. It’s happening man, like I dig the Wah pedal solo dude. The title track STAIGHT is a balls to the wall rocker.
This release is definitely a step in the right direction for the artist and label. You could argue that lyrically it could be better in places, mainly the nursery rhyme syndrome where every last word at the end of a sentence has to rhyme with the previous one, making some of it a bit ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star how I wonder what you are?’ in places. Apart from a couple of fillers this is a damn fine debut vocal release and with the added bonus of some killer guitar work constructed to fit with in the song structure.
Polak saved the best to last with THE GLOWING OF A CIGARETTE. Think old black and white movie and an old black blues player (BB King Style). The playing and vocal performance is faultless and real old school as it should be for this song. This is the guy who said in our first interview (here on rockunited) that if playing the blues means bending one note and puling a silly face then it’s not for me (well something like that). Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear more of this style from Polak because he’s got the feel, vocal style and playing standards to enter a pretty lucrative and sometimes exclusive market. We were sure this track was played through an old Fender amp with a Telecaster? But you know what, why guess? We know how much you guitar players love to search for the classic tone so let’s make the review a bit more exclusive here’s POLAK with the facts not fiction.
Milan: On "Cigarette" I was using Strats & Teles, for the solo a Standard American Tele, for the outro solo my Custom Fender setneck Tele ltd. edition. Steve Blucher designed the PU's for it and it has sound chambers - priceless. Amp-wise I was going through a Peavey Classic 30 (Vox rip-off) and a Delta Blues (mainly used on that CD) with a 15" (!) speaker.
Thanks for that info Milan. So there you have it, just like the album MILAN POLAK gives it to you STRAIGHT, We are not sure what you will reckon to him stood naked in the inner sleeve but obviously his female Myspace fans will be delighted. The naked truth is as we keep telling you, this kid has got talent, he put his own money where his guitar is and took all the risks, that’s a self belief in your talent that’s sadly lacking from many who want it on a plate. One day some dude from a small label is going to get snapped up by a major label. That would be great for the label, the artist and the rock scene. We hope it’s MILAN POLAK but until then Lion Music will keep making little ripples in that big ocean and keep it going guys - a quality release.
MILAN POLAK - Straight
Metal Express Rating: 8.0/10
Release Date: 2007-04-20
by: SCOTT JESLIS
| Many great guitarists have tried "it" … Gary Moore, John Sykes, Steve Vai, and even Joe Satriani has dabbled in "it." What exactly is "it?" Of course, it's about moving from either side of the stage to the center and using the microphone. After two successful guitar instrumental albums, Austrian guitarist Milan Polak has decided to throw his hat into the vocal release “ring” with his latest, self-financed endeavor entitled Straight.
The “concept,” if it can truly be called that, behind Straight and its cover of a naked Milan Polak, who has his guitar strapped, conveniently, lower than normal, is about a “straight ahead” sound, musical approach, and production with “no effects and no bullshit.” Fans will get exactly what Polak has intended as this album delivers thirteen tracks of guitar/Blues-based Rock with Polak providing the vocals. Polak also has a strong backing band that is no stranger to this approach, with assistance from Randy Coven and John Macaluso (both Ark and Malmsteen veterans) providing the “rhythmic backbone muscle.”
It will be evident to Polak fans as soon as the laser hits the CD that this is no instrumental release, as the disc opens with some commendable, multi-tracked Polak vocals. In fact, Polak fans might be surprised to find that one of the most endearing qualities of this new release isn’t necessarily Polak’s playing, but is indeed his vocal performance. Milan’s approach is much akin to Eric Martin’s during his Mr. Big era. In fact, fans of early Mr. Big might find more than a few tracks here that will remind them of that band’s approach. Point in case is the track “Hero,” which is a slower, acoustical number, but fans won’t mind because Polak’s vocals here are heartfelt, melodic, and moving … a very strong and memorable track with hit potential written all over it.
Musically speaking, tracks tend to run the gamut from Modern Rock to Blues Rock; a more conventional Rock sound and Blues. There are plenty of moments like “Psychobitch,” “Some Kind Of Jesus,” “Happy Now?” and “Favorite Vices” that should please fans of more aggressive, guitar-driven Rock. The latter track, in fact, flirts with guitar fanatics’ emotions by sporting an awesome, faded out instrumental, which is a throwback to Milan’s earlier instrumental days (P.S. see Metal Express Radio’s exclusive written interview with Milan for more on this).
Speaking lead guitar-wise, fans will find solos tend to be short, but punchy, memorable, and in some cases devastatingly fast (as in the title track), but overall perhaps not lengthy enough to appease guitar fanatics, though that’s not what this release is about. Lyrically speaking, you’ll find songs about relationships, dealing with one’s self, fake lifestyles, reality TV, desperate people seeking fifteen 15 minutes of fame, and reflections upon life. Needless to say, Polak has put some adequate thinking into the writings on this self-financed release.
Bottom line, Milan has accomplished what he set out to do with flying colors. For diehard fans of his instrumental work, this format change might be viewed initially as a turn-off before even listening to the release. After several listens, though, those same fans should be comfortable with the format change and will learn to embrace it as they will see that Polak has musically more to offer than fans might have garnered from his instrumental releases. If you’re a fan of classic Mr. Big and straight ahead Rock, then this release should definitely be on your shopping list!
Milan Polak – Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Additional Basses, Percussion, Blues Harp
Randy Coven – Bass
Fabio Trentini – Bass
John Macaluso – Drums
MILAN POLAK - STRAIGHT (B+/B) Lion Music, 2007
13 tracks, RT: 52:09
[ http://www.milanpolak.com/ ]
[ http://www.myspace.com/milanpolak ]
[ http://www.milanpolakfansite.com/ ]
[ http://www.lionmusic.com/straight.htm ]
[ http://www.lionmusic.com/ ]
Austrian guitar master Milan Polak steps away from the instrumental music he is known for to try his hand at a vocal oriented project, with good results. STRAIGHT is hard rock drawing from a variety of influences, as everything from early '70s heavy rock, punk, pop, blues, metal and alternative is thoughtfully blended into a potent brew. Milan does all the singing, his soulful, smoky vocals animating easily relatable lyrics about such things as stupidity, crazy women and the unfairness of media coverage. Milan hasn't forgotten how to play, however, and his incendiary solos can still be heard, albeit briefly, throughout STRAIGHT. I think Milan is at his best on some of the edgier material, some of my favorites being the insanely catchy "Difference," rhythmically engaging "Some Kind Of Jesus," kinetic rocker "Superstar Mania," and the classic Trower flavor of "I Don't Care." STRAIGHT sounds to me like a cross between Richie Kotzen and Lynch/Pilson, and that's a tasty mix indeed. Do yourself a favor and check out the music of this talent before he is a household name!
- Neal Woodall (MysticX9@gmail.com)
Detritus Rock/Metal e-zine
"Rock Hard With A Purpose"
Straight Lion Music
Comments: Possibly the most anticipated CD of the past several years arrived at the door with little to no fan fare, yet the excitement inside the reviewer’s house was tremendous.
There were many questions for months, and soon there would finally be some answers. Could a guitar virtuoso with little to no experience outside the instrumental genre create a special rock record? If so, how would he sound when delivering those bluesy vocals? How would the record be received? Would people understand what this amazing musician was trying to accomplish? These were just a few of the questions that surfaced as the package from Finland was being ripped wide open.
Answers to questions are occasionally in life are as good as you had hoped them to be. This record is one of those times.
The CD is called Straight and is the new venture from the Austrian virtuoso Milan Polak. It is packed with tremendously catchy choruses and verse with hooks that stick with you hours after the CD has stopped playing.
Not knowing what to expect as the laser hits the disc made the first sounds even more compelling. The first track “Difference” revealed plenty from the first note. What you hear early is a catchy rock track that reminds you of a mix of Dokken and Kenny Wayne Sheppard. Here Polak hits some deeper vocal notes and then takes control with a clean soulful rock guitar solo. The solo reminds you of Richie Sambora with a slightly harder edge.
Milan does not take himself too seriously on this record with the wild fun “Psychobitch.” “I just love the way you can’t resist” Polak pans as he builds the story of a crazy chick. Here Polak lights up a short nice spirited almost “American” feeling guitar solo while his excellent drummer John Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ark, Union Radio) bangs his heart out.
Up next is the bluesy almost modern take on a late ‘60s rock track with “Crosses.”
Here Milan shows his total command and range on the instrument as if he grew up a protégé of Stevie Ray Vaughn. A gutsy tough solo and several cool leads are featured here on this really cool blues track. On the acoustic driven “Hero” Milan sings his ass off in an emotional and heartfelt way and plucks like a chicken farmer.
Favorite Vice” is an outstanding track that could fit on any ‘80s movie soundtrack. Polak’s vocals here are possibly the best on the album, and the song may be the most complete on the album. Macaluso leads with the percussion, Randy Coven plays wonderful bass guitar and then Milan tears up a fun wonderfully played small “Country Fried”guitar solo. Polak gets his again a minute later and man is it solid as a rock. As the song ends he really sings out and then he plays a slow metal inspired ending that sounds cool. Finally he does some speedy guitar work that sounds like a special effect, fucking creative.
The rest of the album is filled with several more fun tracks that are all constructed with the utmost care and precision. He is careful not to make this a show off guitar virtuoso album but plays his ass off when appropriate.
Folks it’s as if this brilliant man had all of this inside of him for the past 30+ years and finally could not hold it inside any longer. Blues, rock, late ‘60s Jimi Hendrix sounding tracks, modern pop rock, metal, everything is covered here. Shit he even shows those rocket fast “shred” fingers on the solo inside the title track.
Play the last track “The Glowing of a Cigarette” and you realize that this man could be a full blown successful blues artist if he’d like. Damn is he talented. What a fucking album. It is certainly in the running for album of the year in 2007.
If Lion Music has any sense they will do nothing short of mortgaging their asses to promote this album. If people in the States, especially down south, hear this it will sell copies and ultimately succeed.
Get your squirrelly butts on-line and buy a copy for everyone you love. They will love it no matter what their musical tastes.
Milan Polak-Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Percussion, Blues Harp
05 Favorite Vice
06 Some Kind Of Jesus
07 All I Want
08 Superstar Mania
10 Happy Now?
11 I Don’t Care
12 Free After All
13 The Glowing Of A Cigarette
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.8/10
MILAN POLAK Straight Lion Music (2007)
After two instrumental albums (both well worth a listen) Milan Polak has now decided to do his first vocal album and what a good one it is too! He has roped in a good rhythm section as well in former Ark/Malmsteen pair Randy Coven (bass) and John Maxaluso (drums) with some bass parts played by Fabio Trentini.
Musically it is a nice mix of styles from the catchy hard rock of 'Difference' and 'Psychobitch', the latter containing a cracking chorus. There are some good acoustic based numbers of which 'Hero' stands out, you could easily see this popping up in a film soundtrack at some point. The title track is a statement of intent of Milan Polak's views backed by some aggressive playing. Final highlight is the blues rock closer 'The Glowing Of A Cigarette', another track with some great guitar on it.
A big gamble to do an all vocal album and Milan Polak pulls it off with enough variation to keep the listener entertained.
Review by Jason Ritchie www.getreadytorock.com
Milan Polak - Straight
Rating - 7.5/10
Review Al Hay www.hardrockhouse.com
Milan Polak is an Austrian guitar virtuoso with two very successful instrumental albums to his name called “Dreamscapes” and “Guitar Odyssey”. Milan's new album features thirteen rocking songs with Milan on vocals on all tracks. Joining Milan are Randy Coven (bass) John Macaluso (drums) and Fabio Trentini (bass).
To explain why Milan has opted for a more mainstream rock album I will use Milan’s own words.” Straight stands for the whole concept of this album. One day I sat down and thought about a single word that could perfectly describe my music and me and I found it in straight. The term straight has a lot of different meanings and they apply to my personality, my lyrics, my music and my attitude. It stands for the way this album looks, sounds and was produced-no effects, no bullshit. What you see and hear is what you get. One hundred percent Milan”.
On the change of direction,” I had started to realise that playing instrumental guitar music only offers limited possibilities, so I decided to take a step into another direction and write songs with lyrics and vocals to reach a wider audience”.
The album opens with “Difference”. Layered vocals start this track and segue into a nice organic crunchy riff. The song is strong and catchy. It has a nice obvious verse and chorus and its simplicity gives it some clout. Milan's vocals sound controlled and never forced. As a singer he sounds completely at ease. The solo is focused and straight-ahead and is perfect for the song.
“Psychobitch” is a bouncy slightly punky workout. It’s no nonsense and all about energy and attitude. There is a glorious breakdown before the solo when Milan “riffs out” before giving us a nice technical solo.
“Crosses” is a down and dirty little funked up track with some nice Jimmy Page like riffs and licks. This track also sees Randy Coven strutting his stuff on bass and another fiery solo form Milan is the icing on the cake.
“Hero” is the albums ballad. With this track Milan shows us he can write music that would trouble the mainstream charts if he so desired. Milan's vocal delivery is soulful and at times reminded me of the great Eric Martin of Mr. Big. The song is one of those lighters in the air numbers and I was sort of hoping for an epic full on melodic guitar solo to come along. Instead Milan does something less obvious and gives us an acoustic solo to play the song out.
“Favourite Vice” is a straight-ahead rock song but it has a nice twist at the end when Milan gets “riffy” and weaves a nice uneasy note pattern into the mix.
“Some Kind Of Jesus” is a dark and slightly funky number but is very blues based at the same time. This song brought to mind Extreme during their “Waiting For The Punchline” era. It’s the funky element and also the music in the way it is mixed fairly dry and arranged in an uncomplicated manner.
“All I Want” has a nice Hendrix style main riff, the kind Jimi always employed when he was getting mellow. It’s a straight ahead mid tempo song with a nice melodic solo where Milan also does another Jimi trick by singing along with his solo.
“Superstar Mania” sees more Hendrix style touches. The main riff sounds almost like Purple Haze funked up. As the song progressed it felt a little bit unsettling as it started to almost morph into aforementioned track in my mind. I have a feeling that this was Milan’s intention and if it was he has succeeded in style. The main guitar solo is a very cool and dazzling flurry of notes, which shows just how far guitar solos have come since the days of Hendrix.
“Straight” is a rock song which flexes lots of muscle in the riff department. The solo is also a bit of a corker. This song had me thinking of what AC/DC may sound like if Angus Young had some “shred” in him. It’s simple and lots of fun and works well when one presses the volume button in the up direction.
“Happy Now” is another song which I am sure many chart topping stars would like in their repertoire. It’s a very instant sort of song, which you can’t help but sing along to during the first listen.
“I Don’t Care” is a mid tempo track which wanders along until the solo when Milan’s guitar takes on a bit more fizz and goes into guitar hero mode.
“Free After All” has a menacing verse and a more straight up chorus providing a nice mixture of moods. The solo is punchy and melodic and sits in the song perfectly.
“The Glowing Of A Cigarette” is a simple blues based song in which Milan teases some nice clean and semi distorted solos from his guitar.
“Straight” is an album for all those people who like to hear their hard rock and blues music played in a simple way. Milan has given us an honest and earthy release and has successfully managed to blend classic rock sensibility and styles with his fiery playing. I remember when Ritchie Kotzen released his first album with vocals and how it surprised a lot of people, well Milan may just be about to do the same. The cover of the album sees a very mean and moody looking Milan stripped down and ready for guitar action and I must confess I was expecting the music to be more aggressive and attitude laden. The content of the album doesn’t sit with this image for me personally and it would be a shame if some music buyers passed this album by as the music that Milan has come up with on this release has the potential to be both of interest to “guitarheads!” and more mainstream lovers of traditional classic rock.
A solid and entertaining release.
Let us know your views on 'Straight'
Some Kind Of Jesus
All I Want
I Don’t Care
Free After All
The Glowing Of A Cigarette
Milan Polak – Vocals/Guitars
Randy Coven – Bass
Fabio Trentini - Bass
John Macaluso – Drums
|Polack, Milan – Straight
2007 Lion Music
When I reviewed his last record Guitar Odyssey, I made the remark on how he was helping keep the spirit of the ‘real guitar hero’ alive, but this time on his latest release, Straight, I will say that he keeps the true sound of hard rock in full force. On this album, Polack steps out as a vocalist and axeman, taking turn from the all-out shredding material, playing all out hard rock in the vein of Richie Kotzen (without the ‘drama’), Russell Allen, and John Norum.
Shred fans won’t be disappointed, because he burns the six strings throughout Straight, however, it offers some excellent ear candy for the AOR/melodic rock crowd as well; the music is filled with fluid melodies as he grinds through catchy numbers such as “Favorite Vice” & the title track; executes profound groove on “Crosses” & the lyrically clever “Superstar Mania;” and plays out balladry on two acoustic tracks titled “Hero” & “Happy Now,” where Polack mixes up his songwriting ability.
Also featuring bassists Randy Coven & Fabio Trentini as well as skinsman John Macaluso, Straight is record that brings back the ‘straight’-forward hard rock from back-in-the-day to the now-in-the-day, offering up a no bullshit in-your face guitar oriented thrust of melodies, hooks, & riffs to expose the true meaning of rock and roll & guitar playing.
CLICK HERE To Read a Review of ‘Guitar Odyssey.’
Added: April 12th 2007
Reviewer: Tommy Hash www.ytsejam.com
The ink hadn't even had time to dry on our review of the Dreamscapes album by Milan Polak when Guitar Odyssey landed on the door step. This album is a new version of his 1995 Guitar 2001 release. For a none player it will be a bit hard to digest but if you have ever tried to master those bloody pieces of wire wrapped around a lump of wood then you will be pretty blown away with GO.
Let's not wait for the joke to be told. Let's get straight to the punch line! Milan Polak was 17 when he started writing this album. Shit man, I was still wondering if Mick had a caterpillar or a slug under his nose at that age (moustache). Milan Polak must have started learning guitar in the pram. This dude can't have had any toys as a kid. It's ridiculous how good the playing is on Guitar Odyssey. From the opening track Lights Camera Action there's a sense of humour with a voice effect but it gets serious as a frantic kick drum rides into the arena like a wild stallion. Before the dust can settle Polak has it saddled up and doing the dressage. Ok a bit flash, a bit fast but still waving that magic melody wand just in case you think he's just a speed merchant with only one rabbit in the magician's hat. You could sum this album up with track two, Where Were You Tomorrow. The backing track is like the film soundtrack to Mission Impossible and the guitar playing is just that for many students trying to emulate Polak. It may not be totally original in the sense that you also know the Steve Via song (on Passion And Warfare) that may have inspired him to come up with the middle section but by changing the tempo he brings the lights down to a atmospheric glow, Like a lonesome piper entering from the shadows Polak re-emerges with a blend of beautifully executed tones and subtle bends that would lighten any dimly lit room. This is the type of playing that Schenker made his own (check out the Live UFO Strangers album). That was decades ago but so cool to hear a young player at a similar age to when Michael burst onto the scene leaving his pyjamas behind and being exposed in his underpants. The naked truth is Milan Polak has got talent in abundance, Great use of the whammy bar, pentatonic licks, arpeggios, string hopping, Jazz, Blues, tapping, etc.
The other talking point worth mentioning is Polak won't stick to what's expected he throws in Jazz Fusion in songs like Vinka or better still some awesome metal riffs in songs such as Tendonitis. There's always melody no matter what style and to round it all off he invites you to the Salsa bar with an exquisite acoustic Latin style moment in Could've Been Love. Nowhere to hide the nacho's but then, when you are this good who wants to hide? Milan Polak throws everything into the melting pot but the final cast is what counts. The up shot of this 14 track disc is it's a very impressive display by a very young but maturing Milan Polak.
Lion Music got it right. This album needed to be made available but we said to move on he needed to be doing a vocal album! Well not content with being a guitar hero he's been doing all the vocals on a new album in New York. Who told this dude he could sing? That was a question we put to Milan Polak in a no frills interview that turned out to be an enthralling encounter. If he thinks he's having an easy ride cause we dig his guitar playing he's sat on the wrong motorcycle, He even reverted to playing us his new songs down the phone trying to convince us he could warble. We refused to even tell him if he was any good unless we got some exclusive tracks to hear in our studio. To his credit the songs are here in Sheffield so the big question is can Milan Polak the guitar god go the full distance and sing like a bird? Or will we have to knock him right off his perch? You are going to have to tune into rockunited because the gloves are on and its one hell of a battle!
Review by The Bailey Brothers of RockUnited.com
|Milan Polak – Guitar Odyssey
2005 Lion Music
Lately Lion Music has been starting to become a label that has largely been exposing new fret board frenzy axemen; in fact, many have called then “The New Shrapnel” and although they are releasing several albums that in the modern times of the ‘unknown guitar hero.’ But Lion and it’s artists, whether solo or bands, bring back the day when playing a real solo was sacred and was a thing to admire; which is a thing for any aspiring musician to look up to or aspire to be. Milan Polak is no exception to that rule.
Similar to players such as Tony Macalpine, Vinnie Moore, Vai, and Satch, Polack’s 1995 album ‘Guitar Odyssey’ is true to its name and has thankfully been reissued. With the phrasing and genius composition abilities, there is no ‘wanking’ factor present, plus in essence; he adds several musical elements such as western twang, funk, blues, glistening balladry, and even pop structures to the overall metallic crunch on the record; add a few experimental jazz improvisation here and there, and you’ve got it.
While he toys around with a Zappa influence with ‘Vinka 611,’ cocktail flamenco on ‘Could’ve Been Love,’ emotional anthems ala Brain May with ‘Sylphe,’ Polack still burns with metal fury on ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ and the grove laden ‘Absolutely Positive’, where he stands high amongst many shredders. It is quite unfortunate that by the time this album came out ten years ago, music had taken a turn to where it had literally become un-cool to play a solo, but lets not look at what could have been, lets look at, or in this case, hear how this album and playing has stood the test of time, it’s not often that an instrumental guitar album like this come along and blows you away.
Added: November 26th 2005
Reviewer: Tommy Hash www.ytsejam.com
With his last album demonstrating how to make a guitar instrumental album <a href="http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/03/02/111028.php">not boring;</a> Milan has gotten his label to release this hard-to-find 1995 release. Almost a guitar CV; it clearly demonstrates the breadth of this guys talent from the metal of 'More than I've Been', the power-metal of 'Tendonitis to the Spanish salsa jazz of 'Could've Been Love'. Rather than bore for his country; Milan seems to be keen to make sure that each piece is actually a song rather than just merely an outlet for his fret-work. Many of the songs are under three minutes; thus allowing the guitarist to hint at a certain talent. His backing band on this release is tight as hell and pretty damn impressive. They do not sound at all like an after-thought. At times the album merely sounds like a good hard rock collection before the vocalist lays his stuff down. While maybe not for everyone; this certainly is a good example of how to make a non-vocal album interesting for non-guitar wonks. His next release will have vocals on it...something to look forward to.
Marty Dodge www.getreadytorock.com
2001 Guitar Odyssey Lion Music
Finally - I have been waiting for this moment for a long time.What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is of one of the most beautiful guitar CD’s of all time. The first release of this CD was 1995 and it officially launched an almost unknown Milan Polak into the wide world. Obviously in 1995 the impact of this production was colossal on the lovers of this instrument, no matter how much it was anonymous for all those people despising or not really interested in guitar virtuoso music so explicitly expressed.
This production, originally titled “Guitar 2001” became a little cult object very soon and very hard to get, maybe just because of this our dear Milan after the success of his last work “Dreamscapes” (also reviewed by me) thought well to re-master his previous work and put it to the attention of the public again, confirming and emphasizing his incredible ability to interpret various musical styles with passion, feeling and above all technical touch.
The album, for the lovers of guitar is well composed and flows smoothly in an incredible leisurely way throughout 52 minutes without ever tiring or boring the listener since it always proposes new and amazing interpretations.
In fact, we have to say that there is a risk that every guitarist runs, at least those with a lot of technique, and that is to produce and unleash upon people an extremely technical product that can quickly tire the listener...
I will try to explain better: Many times I have listened to works of guitarists, well done with good mixing and recording but the real work of those guitarist was limited to only being one entire track of 60 minutes composed of sterile sweeps, tapping and many other difficult techniques without any catchy melody.
And it is here where our Milan makes a difference, it is the way how he makes this album and the last one exciting and very tasteful also for one who is not related to the instrument.
“Guitar Odyssey” is distributed by Lion Music with a new cover, this time more futuristic as Milan leaves the vision of Salvador Dalì on Dreamscapes in order to throw in something more Star Trek-like: a Mrs. Guitar inside a bar with a mechanical arm getting a full load of guitar oil from a bottle that resembles the good old “Jack” very well.
Out of the 13 tracks of “Guitar Odyssey” including a bonus track - the demo version of "Where Were You Tomorrow?" – the ones that have particularly hit me are:
More Than I've Been: Milan in a metal-shredder version.
Could've Been Love: Milan ‘s version of Al di Meola/Paco de Lucia style.
Chainreaction: Milan jazz/fusion, at times I could hear passages of "Tilt" of Ritchie Kotzen.
Sylphe: Slow ballad with technique between passages of classical and electric guitar work. At times a lot like Vinnie Moore with alternate picking of Paul Gilbert!
Witchdance: As the same name says, a beautiful rock atmosphere from "the dance of the witches", very dark and a little bit progressive.
To sum it up: An old work that confirms the mastery of Polak already ferociously displayed on ‘Dreamscapes’.
Another CD to buy and keep in our collection and guard jealously as well as for letting new guitarists listen to it saying: That’s the way to play.
Alessandro Del Po – debaser.it (22/10/2005)
2001 Guitar Odyssey Lion Music
Comments: The Lion Music re-release of this special 1995 Milan Polak instrumental album includes better sound clarity and a new demo version of “Where Were You Tomorrow?” This album had been hard to find but now this re-release will allow his new amazed fans of his 2005 release Dreamscapes to hear Polak’s first acclaimed effort.
The album starts off with a bang as “Lights, Camera, Action” is a funky rock boogie with great drums by Thomas Fend and exceptional work by Polak up and down the fret board. “Where Were You Tomorrow” is a beautiful rock song powered by lead work that includes rocket fast scales on top of scales while never forgetting the song’s main rhythm. It actually has the feel at times of a passionate relationship full of either sex or fighting. The cut is written as well as anyone could, with tons of sentiment and emotion to spare.
“Inner Peace” is a basic rock song with lots of lead work for the guitar heads out there. Heavy fretless Bass of Bernd Fuxa dominates the jazzy/fusion joint “Vinka” early on, with lots of single note “speedmanship” thrown in for good measure along the way. Track five “More Than I’ve Been,” is the classic shred fest cut where Jason Becker technique meets Gary Moore’s impeccable feel. (In a phone booth, and neither will leave until they play the perfect notes.) This Polak is simply amazing! DAMN!
Rock/blues rhythm is up next on “Absolutely Positive” where great feel meets speedy technique once again in an endless example of this man’s passion for the instrument. Polak’s “Latin” feels comes alive on the seventh song “Could’ve been Love” a flamenco style acoustic song with more beauty than a freshly blossomed rose on a pretty spring day in Barcelona! “Crusin’” is a nice trip down lead guitar lane, and should be played as loud as possible with the top down of course. 1986 style Shrapnel records shred is what characterizes the next cut adeptly titled “Tendonitis” as Vinnie Moore or Richie Kotzen would be proud of this track for sure. “Chain Reaction” is the tenth song and has more tempo changes than your 8 cylinder 5 speed while in D.C rush hour traffic. Polak’s performance here is outstanding through every twist and turn. Eleven is the listener’s lucky number on this record as slow beautiful picking is mixed with beautiful hard metal leads on “Sylphe.”
The next cut “Witchdance” is perfect for Halloween and is graced with speed and exceptional drums in the vein of an exceptionally well-crafted Steve Vai style song.
“Sunrise” takes us all back to the propensity for Polak to write create and play pure peaceful songs with precision and delicate fingers. It is atmospheric in its casual ambient mild rapture stealing way. This track is so peaceful, you should listen to it while off the clock cause it would put a 12-cup a day cappuccino drinker to sleep. Speaking of cappuccino, the last cut a demo version of the second track is a speed burner of the “Impeliterri” degree with lots of subtle speed changes as well.
To say this album is a must have for any music lover or guitar head’s collection is the understatement of the year. This album shows that Polak was a master songwriter even in his teens and early 20s. It also was great to listen to faster wilder manic side of Polak after the mostly beautiful Dreamscapes release this year. Be careful though, because if you get this record and put it in your changer you won’t take it out till Armageddon.
Milan Polak – All Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Bernd Fuxa-4 String & Fretless Bass
1. Lights, Camera, Action
2. Where Were You Tomorrow
3. Inner Peace
5. More Than I’ve Been
6. Absolutely Positive
7. Could’ve Been Love (acoustic)
10. Chain Reaction
14. Where Were You Tomorrow (demo version – bonus track)
HRH Rating: 9/10
Milan Polak - Dreamscapes
|1. Panic Room
4. Spanish Romance
8. Contrapunctus III
9. 4 a.m.
11. Ground Zero
12. Straight Ahead
13. Sometimes I Still Miss You
(five stars possible)
OVERALL IMPRESSION. Instrumental albums always have the danger of boring the listener, but guitarist Milan Polak avoids this with his diverse styles on Dreamscapes. The album starts out strong with "Panic Room," a catchy hard rocker that will probably be in my head (if not my stereo) for weeks. "Girlfriends" is another uptempo piece, followed by "Dreamscapes" which slows down the pace a bit. Then Polak switches gears masterfully with "Spanish Romance," which, as the title suggests, has a Spanish-flavor flamenco style. He doesn't stay away from the rock for long however, as "Quicksilver" is another headbanging tune, reminiscient at times of Steve Vai's "The Audience Is Listening," but not the whole time as there are a couple of jazzy breakdowns in the song. Polak pulls out the classical guitar on "Contrapunctus III," gets bluesy/jazzy on "4 a.m.," but returns to the rock on "Shadowdance." Fans of guitar virtuosity in the vein of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani should love Milan Polak's Dreamscapes.
BEST TRACKS. "Panic Room," "Quicksilver," "Joyride," "Straight Ahead."
DISAPPOINTMENTS. None. www.rock-reviews.net
Milan Polak - Dreamscapes
|Reviewed by Panagiotis on 2005/05/18
- Panic Room
- Spanish Romance
- Contrapunctus III
- 4 A.M.
- Ground Zero
- Straight Ahead
- Sometimes I Still Miss You
Milan Polak - Guitar, Bass & Keyboards
Peter Schonbauer - Bass
Florian Holoubek - Drums
Thomas Lang - Drums
Whoa! This guy rules! Very sweet music will keep you good company for many hours and will fill your soul with pleasure! This guy definitely belongs up with the fruits of the Satriani / Vai tree (you know, the one with the strings instead of roots)! However this does not mean that he steals from them or that he does not have his own personality!
Milan Polak can be very easily described as the most talented guitarist of Austria. Many of his songs could have been incorporated into the last albums of Satriani / Vai very easily! "Dreamscapes" is his 2nd solo CD and it will be followed by "Guitar Odyssey" in June 2005, which is a re-mastered version of the sold out "Guitar 2001" CD featuring an extra bonus track. Being very sentimental and groovy, Milan delivers his message with style, integrity and passion! There are a lot of eastern melodies and phrygian scales incorporated in his playing!
Some serious classical guitar playing can also be heard on "Contrapunctus III". Experimental mood is also very diffuse here, which is something expected in the world of guitarists. Furthermore boogie passages inside his songs make them more relaxing and appealing to the listener! His music will flow very easily when you want to start a discussion but you don’t know how!
I would describe Milan as "The lost G3" and it would be a very nice idea indeed for Joe and Steve to include Milan in their following European leg of the G3 concerts! And what more could a guitarist ask for, than the following word from Mr. Marty Friedman! "His playing is great! It was excellent jamming, we’ll do that again...". Notice what Steve Lukather also had to say: "My friend Milan is a very talented player with a heart of gold. Make sure to check him out !!!"
The album was produced by Milan himself and was mastered by Hati Moser & Tom Magyar. Musical moments which deserve the highest of your respect can be pinpointed as follows: "Panic Room", "Girlfriends", "Quicksilver", "Shadowdance", "Straight Ahead" and "Sometimes I Still Miss You". Milan has also written some books on guitar sruff! What a talented guy! Along with Neil Zaza’s "Melodica" consider this album as one of the finest pieces of guitar work, my friend, and dig in with no fear!
|Artist: Milan Polak
||CD Title: Dreamscapes
||Label: Lion Music
||Release Date: Out Now
Comments: Drawing on influences like Eddie Van Halen and one of my favorites, the late, great Randy Rhodes, and every other big name guitar player out there, Milan Polak demonstrates that he is one of the all time greats. He has lived and traveled throughout the world and weaves a mesh of his multicultural experience into the very fabric of the music he has created. Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, Vai, and Satriani have nothing on him. From classical to Spanish guitar, Milan knows all and shows all.
This is a beautifully well done instrumental album. The only thing that bothers me is why these guys like Polak, Beck, and Trower never hook up with a band and a vocalist of the same caliber and write some music that the masses could enjoy. This disc is great, and any guitarist out there can't deny it. But look at what Randy Rhodes, Eddie Van Halen, and even that left-handed genius Jimi Hendrix did with vocals implemented. Sure, they could have made careers just doing instrumentals but how much music would now have never existed had they chosen to follow that path? I'll never fully understand this concept. Until it is intelligently explained to me, it will remain a mystery. This is great for what it is, but how much of it can you take? I wonder what great songs may never be, and it blows my mind.
Milan Polak - Dreamscapes
Yes, amazingly this is a very cool vocal-free guitarist instrumental album.
Unlike many, including the one I reviewed recently, there are actually tunes
on this CD. Not only are there tunes but they are actually rather good.
Polak is good enough so that it sounds like the guitar is actually the lead
singer. Milan has played with Falco, Paul Gilbert and has played on quite a
few tribute albums. This is one of those pleasant instrumental rock albums
I have ever heard and it that actually works on several levels. It is good
enough to rise above the level of background music and makes you sit and
listen. It is quite surprising that this is not total rubbish. It is in fact
what guitarists should be aiming at when they do instrumental albums. Still
the album is not for everyone but it if you are interested in this type of
album this really ain't bad. Rest assured there is enough here for budding
guitarists to get into as well. Not quite Satriani or Vai at his best, but
not bad. A pleasant surprise for this reviewer; that is for sure.
Get Ready To Rock!