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Phenomena - 2006 Psycho Fantasy

ARTIST: Phenomena
ALBUM: Psycho Fantasy
LABEL: Escape Music
YEAR: 2006


LINEUP: Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin, Keith Murrell, Lee Small, Matt Moreton, Joy Strachan - vocals * Mel Galley, Andy Shortland, J.J. Marsh - guitars * Ian Rowlands, Tom Brown - keyboards * Richard Lynn - bass * Orlin Radinsky - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Sunrise * 02 Touch My Life * 03 Killing For The Thrill * 04 So Near So Far * 05 Chemical High * 06 Higher * 07 60 Seconds * 08 Crazy Grooves * 09 How Do You Feel * 10 All That I Need * 11 God Forgives



This is the fourth of the Phenomena project albums, the latest since 'Inner Vision' back in 1992. It continues the stories and insights generated by Phenomena's champion and overall mastermind.. Tom Galley. Dealing with such averse subject matter relating to unknown phenomena, Tom has threaded lyrics and musical direction that is intriguing, melodic, powerful, and in some cases dark, as you would expect dealing with content such as this. I don't think there is a common theme linking all the four albums together in terms of storyline. Well not that I can tell. My guess is that these songs are individual cobbled ideas using phenomena (the subject matter) as the catalyst. The release of this album is quite an achievement for Tom, who has had numerous health problems of late. Musically, we've left the fluffy AOR of 'Phenomena II - Dream Runner' behind. This time the music is harder, technical and is close to prog metal standards (not quite, but close enough). With a cast of singers who are there to provide contrast obviously, the tracks don't exactly provide that distinction, with the exception of Joy Strachan.. for which that much is obvious being a woman and all! But if you've ever listened to a plethora of bands who play in that prog/melodic rock mould (Arjen Lucassen's Areyon would be a good example), then Phenomena fit the bill without even acknowledging a wink or a nod.

The Songs
The approach to heavy things up is a deliberate ploy by Galley, and this no more evident that on the opening cut 'Sunrise' which I think is sung by Keith Murrell. Despite the heavier nature of the song, he sounds quite at home. Keeping up the aggression is 'Touch My Life'. The guitars riff away happily and there is a smooth transition between verse and chorus. Tony Martin takes the lead on 'Killing For The Thrill', and this could very well be an outtake from Black Sabbath's 'Headless Cross' era. An air of melancholy takes us through 'So Near So Far' before the artificial inducement of 'Chemical High' crashes us back to reality. Glenn Hughes handles the vocals on 'Higher', this one is good, the guitar riffs a stand out. '60 Seconds' features Joy Strachan, and for what its worth, is not as folky as one would perceive. The song heads down the Stream Of Consciousness path instead. 'Crazy Grooves' is either gonna do it for you, or it isn't. The chorus is the most interesting (or annoying) one you'll have heard in a long time. Hughes returns for 'How Do I Feel', the anxiety of the verses softened by the lilting but unfortunate weak chorus. 'All That I Need' is pretty short on attention span, the chorus is kinda throwaway. Just to ensure the album doesn't limp out with a crybaby whimper, 'God Forgives' is a solid metal sounding tirade, whether it is convincing enough for the Halo'ed One upstairs remains to be seen.

In Summary
At the time of writing this review, the few reviews that were out there on the Net weren't that encouraging. One well-known melodic site condemned it completely ( I wouldn't go that far however. The ideas behind the songs are good, but the musical style though slightly different to what we've heard before with Phenomena is run-of-the-mill stuff elsewhere within the hard rock/metal genre. Some do it much better, and in this regard, Pheonemena will unfortunately be benchmarked against these. However, Tom Galley should be congratulated for bringing the Phenomena sound into the 21st century. A rehash of 1987's 'Dream Runner' would've been nonsensical considering we are twenty years down the track, and AOR is now unfashionable.

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#1 | george_the_jack on July 05 2008 15:23:58
Phenomena without Ray Gillen and John Wetton is spaghetti without 'salsa'.
#2 | trillion1999 on November 02 2011 13:52:53
I love the first album and quite a few of the songs from the second album.Though I do not remember anything from the last two despite the presence of heroes I still pine for that box-set with the first three albums together with all the songs I have not heard yet.I hope it is better soundwise than the Tantrum box-set though.
#3 | melodiapositiva on November 05 2016 16:30:36
Mediocre album for a band who gave us such classics as phenomena,dream runner and even inner vision (no reviews for these classics?).
#4 | gdazegod on November 05 2016 21:56:14
That's why it's rated a seven.

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