METAL HAMMER (Germany) - 6/7 by Frank Thiesses '...the first big surprise of 2011: unrestricted recommended' METALNEWS.DE - 5/7 by Kaamos (Timo Beisel) '...There is simply so much to discovering new and so it is extremely difficult to give a label to the music, SPELLBOUND DAZZLE create their own drawer...' POWEROFMETAL.DK - 85/100 by Reinier de Vries These Italians come up with a very promising debut if you ask me. Immediately after the intro the very commercial and singable song 'Goodbye My Love' takes your attention and it will not go out of your head for days. There are many familiar influences in their songs; one band that comes to mind very often is System of a Down, like in the track 'SBD' and the music breath out Mr Bungle many times as well. Modern grooving metal with danceable parts, a lot of tempo-changes and progressive elements combined with folk and polka rhythms. Other influences I hear are Extreme, Kiss ('The Foolin' of Each Other), Anthrax (a part of 'So Close') and even tunes of Metallica's 'Orion' ('Rullo'). Poppy groovy music with a metallic edge. The vocals of Stekovic Kreso sound similar to Serj Tankian at times, sometimes screaming and shouting, then again high kind of hysteric and clean. In 'So Close' the accordion (probably keyboard) makes it a very folky song and if you want a song you can spend the next Christmas with, you should listen to the Balkan (Russian) influenced polka song 'Ruska'. Besides the use of the piano there are fortunately enough metallic edgy parts in the songs. That the band has a sense of humour can be seen in the title "When I Touch Myself'. For me this is an album that will find it's way into my car regularly. It is very contagious music and it makes me smile all the time. If you dig a combination of System of a Down, Kiss, Extreme, Mr. Bungle and Living Colour with poppy influences, groovy songs and folky parts at times, I almost know for certain you will like this. With producer Siggi Bemm (Kreator, Lacuna Coil) behind the buttons this albums sounds like a clock. First debut surprise of the year! BRUTALISM.COM - 4/5 It is very hard to place the enigmatic Spellbound Dazzle. They're all over the place. Sometimes it is alternative rock, sometimes progressive, sometimes heavy metal, and even some pop rock sometimes... they're mind boggling and uncontainable. Some may even wonder why they're here on a 'broootal' metal site as Brutalism... but here they are! Their latest album, Unreal Fairy Tales,' is quite a ride for those who dare take a listen. Like a plummet down the rabbit hole by Lewis Caroll, Spellbound have assorted a variety of tracks/ stories that work a little differently and offer very little, if any, repetition at all. Some may be great, and others just eyebrow raisers without a smile at all, but overall it is some very good music. Tracks like 'Intro' are the first sign that the band is crazy. Featuring flamenco acoustic guitar and whistling that makes it feel like it is part of the soundtrack to a bad Spanish romance, this is a prequel to the more rock based 'Goodbye My Love.' The thicker guitar chugs and distortion instantly draw things closer to metal territory, but it still feels like it is more in the hard rock zone. Then 'The Foolin...' draws things back into 'strange' by merging thick guitar riffs and suddenly wildly jazzy, progressive moments in between. 'So Close' is a pretty stable ride... save for the wild carnival of an interlude that refuses to disappoint fans of the bands' wickedly eccentric ways. 'Monster' is the first track to really sound like heavy metal; it is aggressive and the guitar solos are just downright awesome. 'In My Room' is a drop into soft, almost acoustic territory and the softness sounds like almost haunting Dream Theater territory, if not closer to indie/ pop rock like Cage The Elephant. Of course, 'Rullo' shatters that notion by going towards hard rock/ metal instrumental territory while focusing on a more guitar solo path that is akin to John 5 when the vocals aren't in play. 'Spaceman' is just a fun track altogether; the energy never dies with this one. 'When I Touch...' is actually very groovy and reflects the older hair metal days witha bit of a modern touch. The way the guitar rhythms sound it is just very catchy, and unexpected considering the title. If most expected a weird and wacky track, thing again. 'Ruska' gives one last surprise with plenty interesting vocal work, and a good mix of guitar and fiddle/ keyboard while keeping a jazzy tone with a touch of Queen gang vocal work. It is the most interesting track on the album by far. Leave it to the outro to settle things out by continuing that flamenco guitar introduction with a bit of symphonic flare and fans are left with quite a ride. Basically this album will probably be a hit or miss; one will either enjoy it or hate it. But, like other eccentric bands such as Diablo Swing Orchestra and Arcturus/ Ulver, Spellbound Dazzle know how to keep things interesting and as far away from 'typical metal/ rock' as one could get. They may not suit everyone's tastes perfectly, but they are sure to attract a wide variety of listeners. NIGHTSPIRIT.NO - 606/666 by Wrath For those of you looking for something completely different, look no further. Here we have the phenomenal act Spellbound Dazzle with their very odd debut album "Unreal Fairytales". Combining multiple elements from various genres, this album is mastered and leveled at a great volume which no listener would not appreciate. Where to begin? This is somewhere between a metal album and a pop rock theme, carrying all the events from both these genres that make them each so catchy, combining them into something nothing short of dazzling. Active drums, I mean really active drums, the guitar and bass carry a modern rock concept at times, but tend to change in random places that make me think "How did they make that work?" Also something else to take notice of is how the piano kind of comes in and goes out to add a sense of color to several of these tracks, and the weirdest thing has to be the vocals. The best way to describe this act is like a more driven Red Hot Chili Peppers. Full of random transitions and alternative highlighted sections, this album is nothing short of entertaining even for the most uptight of listeners. Conclusion, I'll be keeping an eye on this group and I advise the rest of you to do the same. This band will leave nothing less than an impact on the metal/alternative scene. Great work guys, keep it coming. USA PROG MUSIC - 8/10 by Daz Higgam Beyond it's own borders Croatia isn't generally known for it's musical heritage. Only the composer Haydn even comes close to having a claim, having been born in a Croat enclave, but even that was in Austria. (You can use that one the next time you need something to impress the girls. Ok, perhaps not). Ask most Croats to name famous countrymen and you'll get Marco Polo, tennis players, basketball stars and soccer players, but no musicians. However, with a little luck and some help from Italy that may be about to change. Brothers Kresko & Branko Stekovic are the brains behind Spellbound Dazzle, a new addition to the prog metal stable. Having fled their homeland during the war in 1993, the Stekovics settled in Northern Italy, and founded the band ten years later, along with two local Italians, drummer Stefano Artus & bassist Dante Bridda. Fast forward to 2010 and after paying their dues on the Italian metal scene finally have product in their debut album Unreal Fairy Tales. And it's quite a statement. Fusing together a myriad of musical styles, 'Fairy Tales has a metal base with a liberal sprinkling of prog, folk and polka (yes, polka) thrown in, creating a genuinely interesting journey that always holds and sometimes demands the listeners' attention. Given the multitude of styles on offer it's difficult to immediately describe their sound, but there are consistent themes running through most of the tracks that give hints of a uniqueness to be exploited in the future. Central to the album is a Queen-like vocal style using occasional pentatonic / Arabic scales (think Serj Tankian), an obvious nod to their Croatian background. However, unlike System Of A Down, there is little of the frantic riffing underneath, the band preferring more 'feel' in their guitar motifs, and the songs benefit as a result. The album can be split into two distinct parts; the proggy-edged, multi-layered 'kitchen sink' songs alongside more straight-ahead pieces, although even those have twists. "Goodbye My Love", "The Foolin' Of Each Other", "SBD" and the thoroughly mad "So Close" fall into the former category, each carrying enough differing melodies, sounds and mood changes to sink a battleship. Ballad "In My Room" and the heavy grooves of "Spaceman", "Monster" and "W.I.T.M.S" fit the latter, and strangely this is where Spellbound really do dazzle (sorry). When they allow the song to 'breathe' a little more, Spellbound Dazzle really come into their own, as there is no doubt these guys can write good melodies in their sleep. "In My Room" is the second best thing on the album, and yet is the most simple (by far) of any of the tracks. It's antithesis is "So Close", which whilst brilliantly executed seems to be trying too hard to be too many things, and there's a danger of losing the song's identity as a result. That's not to say that they shouldn't continue with the proggier elements, which really add texture to the experience - the best examples being the "Intro" & "Outro" which provide a nicely rounded package - and the musicianship is very good indeed. If you like well written melodic metal with some nicely progressive surprises, Spellbound Dazzle are for you. A great start to an extremely promising career. METALTEAMUK.NET by Andrew Doherty Unusual is the word which ran through my mind while listening to this one. That's no criticism. Two brothers moved from Croatia to Italy, settled there and formed Spellbound Dazzle. They certainly have an interesting musical outlook. At times while listening to "Unreal Fairy Tales" I found myself somewhere between the madhouse, a circus and a rowdy pub. But it's not one of those albums with no boundaries. There are definite styles in there. To quote the band's own site, they peddle "a modern metal and classic rock hybrid with progressive influences and polka rhythms". "Goodbye My Love" typifies the best of this band. It's strange, but has an indie feel, a hypnotic beat and is very catchy and bouncy. There's also a high degree of showmanship here. "The Foolin' of Each Other" is another crowd-pleaser. It's a catchy rock number before degenerating into a bit of an anarchic riot. "SBD" and "So Close" run into each other. "SBD" is heavy but develops strangely and in an offbeat sort of way, which is not dissimilar to Atrox. It becomes ghoulish and works into the bizarre "So Close". There's something unsettling about the vocals on "So Close". It's as if your head is spinning after you've had a few and you decide to listen to it. The structure is similarly obtuse. A nightmare evolves in which we've given the impressions that the dolls in the bedroom have come alive. This somehow turns into a rock groove and then the lads start singing their chorus again. It all ends in the tones of a Russian drinking song. "So Close to Insanity" would have been a more appropriate title for this imaginative track. After "So Close", the tracks are more classic but there's no lack of variety. "Monster" has a similar rhythm to "So Close". The vocals are more boyish and it has a nice groove. Where "Monsters" is a fun track, "In My Room" which follows is serious. It's slower, acoustic and more reflective. There's good use of the mediterranean guitar on it. This is the exception, and we're soon back to the fast rocking beat of "Rullo". There's a touch of electro, it stops, starts and changes. The vocals are typically offbeat and unusual in the style of Elvis Costello or an 80s indie singer. "W.I.T.M.S (When I Touch Myself)" generates another surprise with it's bluesy rock. The rhythm recalls Free's "Alright Now". So it's no real surprise, as this is an album of the unexpected, for the next track "Ruska" to be a bouncy, rousing accordion extravaganza. The "Outro" is a simultaneously sad, yet upbeat flute-led orchestral piece, reflecting the broad nature of this unconventional work. "Unreal Fairy Tales" is a unique album. The colourful sleeve artwork reflects it's kaleidoscopic nature. I wasn't always inspired by the classic rock or by the vocals, but I liked it's eccentricities and it's lively and interesting. Overall it's fun, well produced and enjoyable to listen to. METALEXPRESSRADIO.COM - 8.5/10 by Lior Stein With the rising of Spellbound Dazzle, there is (sort of) a new beginning to what it was called Alternative Metal. The average Metalhead, if open-minded, might find something interesting in the Spellbound Dazzle's new album, Unreal Fairy Tales. Even though there is a close resemblance to older Modern Metal acts such as Faith No More (with Mike Patton on vocals), Incubus (not the old school Death / Thrash band), and System Of A Down, there are other things to consider. Possibly the greatest thing about Unreal Fairy Tales, above and beyond the pompous production by Siggi Bemm, is the fact that it goes beyond being a conventional Metal album. Tradition doesn't count here. The guys of Spellbound Dazzle wanted to get out of the box to find other meanings for their music. They found those by adding amazingly Melodic & Progressive touches, Folk and Polka rhythms. In addition, to mash things up for the kick of it, they toggled in humor and a dose of fun. Just to emphasize this point, take a crack at 'Ruska', 'Rullo', 'Intro' & 'Outro', and the mighty 'Spaceman'. However, especially with the guitar section, this brand of Modern Metal turns out to be basic as hell. This fact causes so many of the riffs to come back and forth on some of the tracks. Progressiveness might have worked out well for these guys, yet that trait only appears for a few moments. Besides the stereotype of Modern Metal regarding riffages, Spellbound Dazzle are in the zone. If you put those riffs aside, they were able to inject more life to their groovy heaviness. For that, you might pay attention to 'Goodbye My Love', 'W.I.T.M.S. (When I Touch Myself)', 'Monster', and 'The Foolin' Of Each Other'. Unreal Fairy Tales is at it's best when insanely low end riffs come to play with a live spirit that can love as well as it can crush. With Spellbound Dazzle on the loose, you might reconsider your definition of Alternative Metal of the 21st Century. ETERNAL-TERROR.COM - 4.5/6 by Matt Coe Outside the box progressive hard rock from these Italians (half transplanted from war torn Croatia). The disco beats during "The Foolin' Of Each Other" or the polka accordion interpretation during some of the bridge changes on "So Close" should give you a clue at their insane melting pot approach. Faith No More, Pain Of Salvation and slight modern groove influences equal a head shaker that keeps me open to future follow-ups. ROCKYOURLIFE.FR - 17/20 by Skilpadde Le quatuor italien Spellbound Dazzle, né en 2003, nous livre enfin son premier opus. Notons qu'il est produit par Siggi Bemm, le producteur emblématique des groupes rock et métal de la scène italienne (Lacuna Coil, Kreator...), qui annonce cet album comme 'le meilleur album de ces dix dernières années !'. Pourtant la pochette est banale : d'un côté l'enfer, de l'autre le paradis. Nos voisins italiens se seraient-ils trompés ? Une seule solution s'impose : écouter ce disque. Surprise ! L'introduction de ce 'Unreal FairyTales' est acoustique et rappelle les belles contrées vallonnées de l'Italie. A la fin de cette piste, les guitares électriques arrivent enfin et enchainent avec le titre 'Goodbye My Love'. Ça y est le ton est donné, grosse guitare et.. chant clair ? Oui, et même si nos oreilles ne sont pas encore bien habituées, on écoute attentivement ce que réserve le reste de ce titre, tout en se déhanchant. Voix à capella, piano classique sur fond de guitare et basse saturées sont là. Et on aime ça. Les morceaux se suivent mais ne se ressemblent pas. Entre des rythmes funk, comme sur 'Foolin' Of Each Other' ou des sonorités électros dignes des années 80 et 90, sur l'introduction de 'Rullo', l'album ne lasse pas nos cheres oreilles. On retrouve également diverses sonorités du monde métal, entre touche de hard rock et néo métal, ainsi que...quoi ? Des influences gypse ? Eh oui, la fin de la chanson 'So Close' en est timbrée, tout comme 'Ruska', qui illustrerait très bien l'un des films d'Emir Kusturica. Ces influences ne rendent en rien les morceaux brouillons. Elles permettent de créer une dynamique toujours nouvelle aux pistes, comme dans 'In My Room' avec un solo à la guitare classique. En fait cette dynamique est présente dans tous les titres. Enfin, il se finit par 'Outro' dans un style acoustique/folk, rappelant 'Intro'. 'Unreal FairyTales' est ainsi cohérent dans son imbriquement de styles, de mélanges des genres. Les chansons s'enchaînent bien, et aucun essoufflement ne se fait ressentir. Un vrai bonheur ! Il est rare d'entendre un mélange de sonorités aussi bien orchestré. Pour preuve, la première image qui m'est venue en écoutant ce disque a été: 'mes poils se hérissent, je suis plus piquante qu'un hérisson enragé...' Mais toutes les métaphores bizarres que je pourrais vous citer ne vous diront pas ceci : mettez une croix dans votre calendrier à la date du 28 janvier. C'est fait ? Attendez la dite date afin de vous procurez cet album ! LORDSOFMETAL.NL - 75/100 Italy is the land with the most eclectic metalbands per headcount, but Spellbound Dazzle is by far the one with the best sound. Ofcourse that is thanks to producer Siggi Bemm who also worked with Tiamat, Kreator and Lacuna Coil, but we may not erase the qualities of the band. And this one is actually half Italian: the other half came running from Croatia during the Yugoslavian civil war. I find it surprising how the band sounds in great spirits. If this CD breathes an atmosphere, it is the pleasant mood of Mr. Bungle's debut. Even the artwork reminds me of it, mingled with the absurd cartoons of Monty Python. And Spellbound Dazzle makes no mistake by sticking to one single style. The opening track 'Goodbye My Love' is a mix of loud metal with Italian Schlagermusic (as far as that exists), and to be more precise they shoot from the unexpected hip with the following 'The Foolin' Of Each Other' by sounding more like KISS than KISS themselves. Spellbound Dazzle does have these moments in which they sound too literal like other bands, like the 'citations' of 'Finale' from Anthrax in 'So Close' or 'Orion' from Metallica in 'Rullo'. But nonetheless it is a pleasant listening experience, this 'Unreal Fairytales'. The band needs to do some work here and there but considering it is a debut, this is not bad at all. Considering they are a new star on the skies of rock and metal, they already have this absurd sounding quality in their sound. For the meanwhile I will keep an eye on this band. These half Italians could grow into something... ICE-VAJAL.COM - 8/10 by Claudia Ehrhardt There isn't much I can tell you about Spellbound Dazzle, just that the Stekovic brothers moved during the Yugoslav wars to Italy and later started Spellbound Dazzle. They kick off with an intro based on Spanish guitar, reminds me a bit of Friday Night In San Francisco. Then some whistling and they head with heavy riffs in Goodbye My Love, but then you expect a heavy track, then you'll be surprised by the slow melodic passages which follow metallic parts - plus some hints of Balkan beats and folk. They cross borders, mix different styles - literally crossover. This mix of genres reminds me slightly of Croatian-Slovenian outfit Analena and Croatian band Hesus Attor. It seems to be a Croatian thing to mix sounds that way... Even if some will love them for the varying sounds they aren't offering something for mainstream listeners. So shows SBD reminiscences to crossover bands, pop and Balkan sounds. Heavy riffs lead you into So Close, but by now it's crystal clear that there will be abrupt changes and different sounds - incl. Turbo-folk - mixed into an very unique sound. Monster has a catchy vocal line, even if they take you onto another sonic roller coaster ride. Monster is probably the best way to tackle Spellbound Dazzle... In My Room starts acoustically, just guitar and vocals - and shows Kreso Stekovic as a singer who has a large range of styles to offer. The others join in, but this time they seem to stick to the chosen path - the song becomes a powerful ballad then a balladesque rocker. Great tune, but not very representative for Spellbound Dazzle. The other songs also offer a wild mix of sounds, but metallic riffs are the basis for all of them. At Spaceman you even find classic citations as well as vocals which seems to be inspired by some NWoBHM band. Ruska kicks off with Balkan pop combined with heavy guitars, but then you get some counter part a cappella passage before they return to Balkan beats. The rhythm shows similarities to SoCal partly. What a mix! With Outro the chapter Unreal FairyTales is closed. Everybody who is open-minded and not just listens to metal should give it a try. But be aware that Spellbound Dazzle is no musical fast food!