The Big Deal – First Bite (Frontiers)

The Big Deal?

In 2022 there’s no bigger in terms of a brand new band making its play for mainstream success.

Frontiers have a habit of ‘creating’ classy line-ups perfectly primed to crash melodic rock’s saturated market. 

And this polished quintet could emerge as the Italian label’s canniest project yet.

Capturing the look of late 80s Heart and the sound of Ygngwie Malmsteen’s hair metal epic Odyssey, The Big Deal are a thrilling, thunderous throwback.

Their symphonic metal leanings will appeal to fans of Nightwish, Delain et al.

But make no mistake: this red hot European collab wears its AOR heart on its sleeve.

Central to The Big Deal’s signature sound are Nevena Brankovic’s sweeping keys.

Without them First Bite would be just another mediocre hard rock record struggling to make itself heard.

But Brankovic brings the X Factor to The Big Deal.

Sensational’s soaring soundscape underlines the point.

And Brankovic repeats the trick on the top notch Top Heaven.

Fusing anthemic keys with masterful fretwork is what The Big Deal do best.

Time and time again Brankovic’s husband Srdjan fuses blazing fretwork to his other half’s neat melodic touches.

And Ana Nikolic’s powerful vocals complete an addictive package that’s laden with commercial promise.

The Big Deal announced themselves last year with three carefully crafted covers.

Providing their punchy takes on Europe’s Rock The Night, Nightwish’s Amaranth and ABBA’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! proved to be a masterstroke.

And having laid their cards on the table, First Bite proves The Big Deal is all in when it comes to celebrating melodic rock’s unapologetic excess.

The Big Deal: the big question

So what’s missing from First Bite?

A tasty power ballad, perhaps?

If there’s one criticism of The Big Deal’s relentless debut it’s that First Bite is frustratingly one paced.

Sure, Nikolic’s operatic tone and Srdjan Brankovic’s guitar heroics aren’t a natural fit for something slower and more reserved.

But where’s The Big Deal’s Alone?

And couldn’t they have taken a stab at besting Vixen’s Cryin’?

On the face of it, Nevena Brankovic’s keys could have laid the foundation for something far more affecting than Fallen.

But it seems The Big Deal would rather go big or go home.

Every time.

Wake The Fire and Power On reinforce a songwriting blueprint that’s far from subtle.

And with no time to relax, First Bite can be an exhausting first listen.

The frequent Malmsteen-esque flourishes might alienate the core AOR fanbase.

Nevertheless, students of the six string will find much to admire in First Bite’s full-on axe attack.

The danger is that The Big Deal find themselves caught between two potentially uncomfortable stools.

Too heavy for Brigade-era Heart devotees and too lame for the demanding symphonic metal set?


But there’s no doubt The Big Deal’s an attractive addition to Frontiers’ bulging roster.

And debut albums don’t come much more assured.

If this is the First Bite, we can’t wait to sink our teeth into album number two.

The Big Deal are big news. For a reason.