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Phenomena: Awakening

A swift look at the cast list for Awakening suggests that talent wise the latest in the long running Phenomena saga has loads going for it. Mat Sinner (Sinner, Primal Fear),Toby Hitchcock (Pride Of Lions), Terry Brock (Strangeways),James Christian (House Of Lords), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear),Lee Small (Shy), Mike DiMeo (Riot, Masterplan), Mike Slamer (Steelhouse Lane), Rob Moratti (ex-Saga) all feature yet (as do Tommy Denander and Steve Newman) the album manages to sound much more cohesive than one of those somewhat annoying projects so beloved of record companies these days.

In another world songs like "Smash it Up" have a pop sensibility that in days gone by would have seen substantial radio airplay and as usual Toby Hitchcock sings the life out of "Reality" which also features some lovely guitar work from Mike Slamer. Quality flows throughout this record.

As one would expect with Martin Kronlund involved it sounds great and is one of early 2012's more uplifting releases and is thoroughly enjoyable AOR fare from start to end. Go out and buy it in order to ensure that Tom Galley and cohorts make another!

Track Listening:
1-Smash It Up (Lee Small on Vocals, Mat Sinner Bass, Magnus Karlsson Lead Guitars)
2-Reality (Toby Hitchcock on vocals and Mike Slamer on Lead Guitars)
3-Homeland (Rob Moratti on vocals and Martin Kronlund on all Guitars)
4-Going Away (James Christian vocals and Tommy Denander Martin Kronlund on Guitars)
5- Gotta Move (Ralf Scheepers on vocals and Christian Wolff &Tommy Denander on Guitars)
6- How Long (Lee Small on vocals and Martin Kronlund on Guitars)
7- Shake (Mike DiMeo on Vocal and Martin Kronlund on Guitars)
8- Fighter (Terry Brock on vocals and Steve Newman on Guitars and backing vocals)
9- Dancing Days (Niklas Swedentorp on Lead Vocals with all Coldspell members)
10-Stand Up For Love (Chris Antblad with JAVA Gospel Choir)

Added: March 30th 2012
Reviewer: Simon Bray
Related Link: Escape Music
Hits: 2930
Language: english

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Phenomena: Awakening
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-03-30 15:09:42
My Score:

After the long layoff that preceded Phenomena's excellent 2010 comeback album Blind Faith, it is great to see this project back with another album so soon. The project's only constant Tom Galley is once again at the helm for a mixture of AOR, Pomp and Hard Rock, tailoring the ten songs on show to suit his guest vocalists to perfection. With its amazingly strong heritage Phenomena has consistently been able to attract some of the hottest vocalists around to further its cause, thankfully Awakening is no exception. In fact this time Galley has managed to assemble a cast of the last couple of years most prominent singers from the Melodic Rock and Metal genres. There can be little doubt in MHR circles that Lee Small (Shy), James Christian (House Of Lords), Terry Brock (Strangeways), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Rob Moratti (Saga/Moratti), Toby Hitchcock (Pride Of Lions), Chris Antblad (Spin Gallery), Mike DiMeo (Riot) and Niclas Swedentorp (Coldspell) have been among the genres strongest movers and shakers in recent times.

In terms of style, Awakening is pretty much exactly what Phenomena fans will be hoping for, with bristling melodic riffs ruling the day. Although with guitarists of the standard of Magnus Karlsson, Mike Slamer, Martin Kronlund, Tommy Denander, Steve Newman and Michael Larsson adding their weight to this album, was that ever in any doubt??

As ever Galley understands his henchmen's strong points, giving Lee Small a couple of gloriously blues laden slices of MHR ("Smash It Up" and "How Long") to howl to perfection, while Christian is handed a throbbing slab of Pomp to lord over in the shape of "Going Away". Add to that the sprightly AOR of "Homeland" from Moratti, the strutting sheen of "Reality" courtesy of Hitchcock, the keyboard pump of "Dancing Days" from Swedentorp and the grunt and grind of "Shake" which is handed to DiMeo, and Awakening becomes an amazingly cohesive and hard hitting album.

The best track "Fighter" is reserved for Terry Brock, although the guitar playing and backing vocals courtesy of Steve Newman don't exactly go amiss either, with the vocal performances and arrangements being nothing short of superb. Scheepers is given a Rammstein lite song in the shape of "Gotta Move", which in lesser hands could have been the album's clunker. However his surprisingly melodic vocals really bring the best out of the song. That leaves Antblad, to close the album out with the Gospel choir backed "If You Believe", which while a classy way to finish, doesn't really feel like it gels quite so well with the songs that have preceded it.

Awakening is another sure fire hit from Phenomena and right now it seems like their record label Escape Music can do no wrong!

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