Painted Bass Records
Started as a studio project in 2016 by Sander Gommans (After Forever) mainly to play HDK material on stage, Phantom Elite quickly became something else entirely, as the chemistry between the young musicians gave birth to exciting and fresh ideas. Consequently, the Dutch / Brazilian group started composing music for what would become their debut album, “Wasteland”, officially released on April 15th via Painted Bass Records. Phantom Elite consists of Exit Eden’s Marina La Toracca on vocals, Goof Veelen and Ted Wouters on guitars, Eelco van de Meer on drums and Siebe Sijkens on bass.
What surprised me about them when I first heard the single for “Siren’s Cry” is that they don’t sound like your typical symphonic metal band, but rather as a melodic metal band with a power metal edge and even some rock vibes to their sound. And this very well executed combination of aggressive guitars, delicate vocals, and surprising keyboard soundscapes is what separates Phantom Elite from the rest. This idea was reinforced a few times as I listened to the album because such songs as “Lockdown”, “Spectrum of Fear”, or the title track “Wasteland” show how versatile they are as musicians.
Rise with The Dawn
Every Man for Himself
Spectrum of Fear
With the Gods
Above the Crowd
Serenade of the Netherworld (Bonus Track)
“Revelation” and “Every Man for Himself” display their symphonic side through some wonderful backing arrangements that add depth and emotion to the songs, while “Astray” is the album’s ballad with beautiful violin and acoustic (spanish) guitar lines. Actually subtle symphonic arrangements can be heard all though the album, but they don’t overpower the guitars and the vocals, that is why I said in the beginning the Phantom Elite doesn’t sound like a typical symphonic metal band.
Marina La Toracca shows her chops as a vocalist going from soft and melodic (“Astray”, “Serenades of the Netherworld”) to
aggressive and powerful (“With the Gods”, “Above the Crowd”) to even some opera-like chants (“Revelation”) with great ease. There’s also a heaviness to the music that I have missed in many recent
releases, as the two guitarists really know their way around the guitar and deliver some great riffs, and solos (for instance “Another Day” has an interesting guitar riff). Also, the drum work is
very solid all the way through, alternating between quick & dynamic, and relaxed & calm (as for instance on “Revelation”). The rumbling bass parts are very well heard, unlike in many
other cases, and mix so well with the rest of the instrumental (see “Spectrum of Fear”). Really, everyone is bringing their A-game here, putting many debut albums to shame.
The songs are layered, dense, and varied, it will take a few listens to “Wasteland” to wrap your head around it, but with these 12 tracks, this young and talented band shows a lot of potential, as they bring forth a fresh sound on the ever-developing metal scene. Highly recommend!
Rating: 10 / 10
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Marina La Toracca – vocals
Goof Veelen – guitars
Ted Wouters – guitars
Eelco van de Meer – drums
Siebe Sijkens – bass