Released: 2012, Pure Steel
The relatively new label, Pure Steel (and it’s affiliates Pure Rock, Pure Prog, Pure Legends etc), is rapidly becoming one of my favourite Metal record labels. In light of a number of great releases and the high quality from the label, I want to do a little feature and look back at seven PURE STEEL albums from 2012 you may have missed including Alltheniko, Custard, In Aevum Agere, Phantom X, Power Theory, StormRider and Sleepy Hollow. Please feel to enjoy the reviews of all these fine releases in our Pure Steel feature, as well as previous published reviews of New Eden, Emerald and Axehammer.
Although the new release by Phantom X is technically not a new studio album, it is the first release that has been discussed in the hallowed halls of Metal-Rules.com. Cleverly titled THE OPERA OF THE PHANTOM is the fourth release of PHANTOM X in their roughly decade long career. This quartet from Dallas, Texas spawned from the ashes of a band called Tyr, had put out three previous full-length albums that contained a running storyline. The band has decided to take those songs from each album and re-record them into one tour-de-force. So technically the album is a bit of a remake album with the first 10 songs appearing on prior albums and another six tracks added on for good measure. There is loads of music on this 67 minute long album as lots and lots of narration to fill out the storyline of the album.
The line-up has stayed stable and still features the great pipes of Kevin Goocher who spent some time in Omen as well. The album opens with the sounds of an orchestra tuning up which leads to some ominous narration, setting the stage and after a good build up the songs rips into Storms of Hell, a classic Metal song, a speedy opener then followed by ‘Rise Of The Phantom’ with a slower acoustic lead start. Following is the track ‘Discovery’ which is nicely reminiscent of ‘Silk and Steel’ the acoustic instrumental by Savatage found on GUTTER BALLET. The short piece counter-points acoustic and electric soloing very nicely. The haunting echoing production on this short piece is really good and serves to emphasis when the clean electric soloing comes in. It’s a great little piece and the whole album has many such highlights. In fact, the whole album has a very nice Savatage/King Diamond feel showcasing a classical-meets-horror sound that works perfectly with the whole Phantom of the Opera lyrical theme.
The lyrics are good as well, very ‘Metal’, with lots of things about ‘Stormriders’ and ‘the well of souls’ and ‘the seasons of the witch’ and other such great horror-spawned imagery delivered in a convincingly dark manner by Goocher. The album is loaded with chunky riffs and good solos in the strong songs. It’s not too frantic or speedy but there is an intensity and pace to all of the songs. The melodies and choruses are catchy but not too slickly sweet, it’s more of a head-banging album that an anthemic, sing-along album.
THE OPERA OF THE PHANTOM is a very solid album well-worth the time, attention and money of classic/trad and Power Metal fans who like it intense, dark and filled with epic grand storytelling. It’s a sound that is hard to perfect but Phantom X have pretty damned close.