Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Phantom – The Powers That Be (2013) 82%

"Smooth as an android's bottom"

Formed after the demise of Ash Lee Blade, Phantom released their debut EP this year and it's a nice traditional heavy metal release. That's a style that Canada's metropolis Toronto is getting known for with bands like Cauldron, Axxion or Skull Fist. The NWOBHM influence is omnipresent on this Ontarian scene, the love for their ancestry is perfectly fine in my book as this sound is one of the best metal has ever seen. I gladly accept the love for the English monarchy in exchange for tasty heavy metal like Phantom.

While I appreciate Axxion (I reviewed their first EP here!), Phantom is way more enjoyable in my opinion and their sound is more varied and a bit more brainy. The thirty minutes release has two epic songs and these tracks really made the album for me. “Killing Concubine” pushed aside the Manowaresque lyrical themes of the first three tracks, I love metal too, but no dudes, no need to dedicate songs to it all the time. But this seven minutes track is much different and more interesting, it has this fantasy vibe not quite found elsewhere on “The Powers That Be”. The other peculiar song is “Edge of the Night”, it's a ballad-esque track and it's quite well done, it's followed by an instrumental outro called “Riker's Beard” and like The Next Generation's character, it's very good and sexy. The four other songs are fast numbers that are very catchy. The chorus on “Keepers of the Flame” is great and entertaining. They have the ability to write very memorable vocal lines and even though D.D Murley is a predominantly a guitarist, he's alright on the record and I really like his soft vocals on the the ballad . I can understand that the trio format works for them but a standalone singer like on Ash Lee Blade but eh, singers can be pretentious assholes! Nonetheless, I think the vocals of Phantom are way too similar to the other bands of the scene. This kind of clean, high pitched melodic vocals are good but they get samey after a while.

Phantom is pretty strong musician wise, it's a traditional trio akin to Raven. Energetic, a shitload of riffs, loud steveharriseque bass lines, “Athletic Rock” for sure! The sole guitar is doing a job and I don't think I complained once about the fact that there's no Maidenesque solo duels. There's groovy drums opening the first track, simply by hearing these, I knew it was gonna be a solid release. For a first album, it's very professional and there's nothing bad to say about the production nor the presentation of the band. Most of the songwriting shows an obvious maturity which isn't that translated that much into the lyrical themes but metal doesn't need to be that intelligent most of the time. I do like great imagery and fantastic lyrics but not a lot of bands have a Mark Shelton or a David Defeis in their lineup. Anyway, If you care that much about "smart music", you should maybe listen to djent or something.

The 3 dudes really can write enticing hooks that are giving the band an infectious sound, rooted in classic metal influences and balls deep in reinterpretation of vintage mastery. To be played loud, guys.

Phantom on Facebook

*thanks to the band for the CD*

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