Phantom Elite – Titanium

Phantom Elite Titanium Album Cover Art

Phantom Elite – Titanium
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Running Time: 48:00
Review by Simon Black
9/10

This seems to be the month for this kind of music. Maybe it’s because Rick knows he can throw this stuff in my direction and I will take it on, but it really does seem that Symphonic Prog is taking over my feed. I shouldn’t complain – it doesn’t seem so long ago that I was casting around struggling to find recommendations in this field. When they are of the calibre of Phantom Elite, this is a nice problem to have…

“Titanium” is the sophomore album from this Progressive / Power Metal quartet, whose singer Marina La Torraca I was vaguely aware being one of the live Avantasia wall of vocalists. Sound-wise this is also dripping with Modern metal heaviness to go with the liberal lashings of Prog, Symphonic and Power and blast beats aplenty. Technically they are actually a five piece, as After Forever guitarist Sander Gommans is a song-writing contributor to this record, as well as taking the Producer’s chair. There is something to be said for having a key writing partner delivering the sound mix – it effectively allows the same creative influence to book end the whole end product, which ensures a tightly focussed end result aligned to the original vision (which is why so many bands naturally progress to getting involved in this area as they gain in experience).

As for the record, what we have are ten and a bit tightly crafted and sound-sculptured Modern Prog Metal tracks, whose technical delivery is faultlessly tight. There’s a rich fat sound in here, over which La Torraca’s vocals have absolutely every chance to soar, even though they keep her balanced in the mix. So often these kind of records push the cleaner female vocals too much to the front of the mix, with the instrumentals disappearing to the background, but not so here – the net effect being that she is an equal partner in the soundscape to the formidable musicians. I am going to particularly call out Koen Stam’s keyboard work interlaced with Max van Esch’s guitar, which has the kind of harmonic interplay of the calibre of the partnership Petrucci and Rudess share in Dream Theater. Yup, that good. La Torraca’s vocal prowess is considerable. Many female-fronted Symphonic bands have a tendency to strike the same tone throughout, but she has much more of a range on her and consequently we have a real variety within the sound of this record. Having fellow Avantasian Amanda Somerville on hand for a couple of tracks to boot is just the icing on the cake.

The result is an album that sounds fresh, technically blistering and really damn relevant.

‘Glass Crown’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Conjure Rains
02. The Race
03. Diamonds And Dark
04. Worst Part Of Me
05. Glass Crown
06. Titanium
07. Bravado
08. Silver Lining
09. Haven
10. Deliverance
11. Eyes Wide Open

LINE-UP:
Marina La Torraca – Vocals
Max van Esch – Guitars/Bass
Koen Stam – Keyboards
Joeri Warmerdam – Drums

LINKS:

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