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Phenomena: Psycho Fantasy

The history of Phenomena, the brainchild of Tom Galley, dates back to 1983, when Tom Galley hooked up with his brother Mel Galley of Trapeze and later Whitesnake fame, bringing in some of rock's most respected for his three-piece concept trilogy. Artists such as Glenn Hughes, Cozy Powell, Neil Murray, Don Airey, Ray Gillen, Brian May, and John Wetton were only some of the musicians that contributed to the albums.

Now, fifteen years after the last Phenomena album, Phenomena III - Inner Visions, Tom Galley returns with his fourth album. He is the main songwriter and producer of the disc, but chose not to perform on the CD. Rather, he invited his old friends, Glenn Hughes, Tony Marin, Keith Murrell, Lee Small, Matt Moreton, Joy Strachan as the vocalists; Mel Galley, Andy Shortland, and J.J. Marsh (Glenn Hughes Band, Tomas Bodin) on guitars; Richard Lynn on bass; Orlin Radinsky on drums; and last but not least Ian Rowlands and Tom Brown on keyboards. Sort of a like British version of Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon, Phenomena's new output proves to be a darker and more experimental work than its earlier hard rock-based versions. Galley has incorporated lots of electronic keyboard patches, folk elements, and vocalists with varied singing styles. The result is both a heavy, rocking album with numbers like "Sunrise" and "Higher"; as well as more textured cuts that have aggressive vocals duelling with multiple vocal harmonies on "Killing for the Thrill". Songs like "So Near So Far" and "60 Seconds", on the other hand, project a more progressive sound, combining subtle keys with slow melodies on the former; and electronic beats and acoustic guitars supplementing beautiful female vocals on the latter. "Crazy Grooves" will no doubt be a shock to the typical rock fan in that it is infinitely layered, featuring many vocals, and a thick groove beneath it.

With that said, some of the songs do fall short in the instrumental department. While JJ Marsh and Mel Galley are without doubt amazing players, I feel Tom Galley's writing is more focused on emphasizing Hughes and Martins' vocal melodies with the other singers backing them up. The addition of keyboards has surely broadened the songs, but a bit more guitar work would have pushed the envelope further. The guitarists mostly lay down their trademark blues licks in most places, but how well it merges with the more modern-sounding, rhythm-driven cuts such as "How Do You Feel" and "Keep On Running" is uncertain. These songs boast great keyboard passages and excellent vocal melodies, but the guitars are so far in the mix that they are almost nonexistent.

Still, Psycho Fantasy is recommended to fans of hard rock. This is worth checking out for the singers' performance alone, and the production is amazing too.

Track Listing

  1. Sunrise
  2. Keep On Running
  3. Killing for the Thrill
  4. So Near So Far
  5. Chemical High
  6. Higher
  7. 60 Seconds
  8. Crazy Grooves
  9. How Do You Feel
  10. All That I Need
  11. God Gives

Added: July 20th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Phenomena website
Hits: 3958
Language: english

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