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Phantom Serenade: In Need Of Rain

Anybody willing and capable of writing, performing and recording a full album's worth of material deserves respect and admiration. However all too often one individual with a single musical goal can get lost in their own vision and while In Need Of Rain by Phantom Serenade (in essence Matthew Snell) has some cool moments, the overriding feeling you have after spending some considerable time with it, is nearly, but not quite. What I mean by that is that the interesting amalgam of straight ahead rock, progressive, symphonic and power metal on this album, which while well crafted simply lacks in too many areas to become much more than something to be admired, rather than thoroughly enjoyed. That may sound harsh, but take "This Coming Storm" as a prime example of a track where a slow paced atmospheric approach, where a strong guitar motif keeps things bubbling along nicely, is completely undone by a muffled production, cheesy (programmed?) drum sound and lacklustre vocals. Move on a couple of tracks and "Where Eagles Dare" illustrates the point further, taking a bombastic Guns & Roses ballad like opening, marrying it convincingly to a glinting riff and then killing it totally with thudding drum-breaks and a vocal that threatens to slip out of key at any moment, while somehow barely rising above a hoarse whisper. The latter aspect marring much of this release.

On the other hand "The Age Of The Fall" finds Snell in much more comfortable vocal territory, snarling, growling and threatening as he battles keenly with a more energetic guitar assault. "Nobody's Fault", while still suffering from the afflictions felt elsewhere (especially in the oh so weak cymbal splashes) proves to be irresistibly catchy, creeping into your mind for days on end, while "Trash" adds a joyous pomp not felt on the rest of the album. Lyrically Snell passes comment on the world around him, with his thoughts proving interesting and uplifting. Those of a Christian nature will find much to connect with in his words, while those not, won't feel bombarded by blatant religion. A fine balance that few employing this style achieve.

There's no denying Matthew Snell's song writing talent, or instrumental skill on In Need Of Rain. However after living with this album for a good few weeks now, there's little doubt that Phantom Serenade would fare far, far better with a live drummer and more talented singer. With both of those in place - and a sharper production - Snell's talents could only shine brighter, resulting in an album to be admired and more readily enjoyed.

Track Listing
1. Trash
2. Blind
3. Psalm 23
4. Diadem
5. This Coming Storm
6. The Age Of The Fall
7. Where Eagles Dare
8. Nobody's Fault
9. Believe
10. Out Of The Shadows

Added: June 28th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Phantom Serenade Online
Hits: 1591
Language: english

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