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Phantoms Opera - 2003 Act IV


PHANTOMS OPERA - ACT IV (2003, ESCAPE MUSIC, ESM 083)
Jack Young - keyboards, vocals
Terry Brock - vocals
Bob Gilmartin - guitars
Eric Walz - bass
Dave Garcia - drums


Background
Another New Jersey product are melodic metallers Phantoms Opera. They've been around for a while, browsing at the same trough as bands such as Symphony X and Savatage. Their operatic or 'theatrical' style of metal as they've described it, takes a wee bit of getting used to, as does the vocal work of melodic rock hero Terry Brock - who is heard for the first time in a different light. The original Phantoms vocalist Colie Brice departed for a solo career, leaving the frontmans spot up for grabs. Eyebrows were certainly raised when Brock was selected for the role. To be honest, I'm not utterly convinced he's the man for the job - Phantoms Opera's melodic metal style really crying out for a singer who has a track record in the genre. These days, many of todays heroes are part of the new brigade. Just take a listen to quality bands like Edguy, Kamelot, and of course G-DAZE raves Pagans Mind. There, you'll hear guys who can sing like angels and with power! Unfortunately, after listening to that aural bombast which sets an unprecendented benchmark, Phantoms Opera are gonna find it hard to compete on the same basis.

The Songs
Not that the album is a write-off - far from it. Superb tracks like 'Shadows On The Wall' and the gothic sounding 'Lost' ensure the band rocks out with the best of them. Even the 9.15 'In The Morning' is an extended epic, which brings back memories of Saxon's 'Cruasder' - what with all those solider's voice overs etc. It's just that a handful of tracks cannot sustain the overall album, which to these ears, sounds ordinary by comparison. Not their fault, but the playing field has definitely shifted in the melodic metal genre - while Phantoms Opera it seems, have been operating in isolation.

In Summary
A good band still, with Jack Young living up to the liner notes with his 'keyboards galore' promise. However, the overriding organ playing needs to be given more variety - as it sounds similar from one track to the next. Brock's voice - perfect for softer gilt-edged melodic rock as heard on Strangeways and The Sign, is not definitive enough this time around. The album really crying out for a guy like Russell Allen or Tobias Sammet.. or someone of that ilk. Dynamicism is the key to the melodic metal genre these days. Until Phantoms Opera discover that secret little trapdoor, they will remain behind the curtain, while others take the spotlight.

Track Time: 56.43

Track Listing:
01 Etched In Stone
02 By Reason Of Insantiy
03 Shadows On The Wall
04 Hopeless Love
05 Lost
06 In The Morning
07 Laura II - Revisited
08 Christine
09 God Save The King

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