This is an adventurous new project from Georg Neuhauser, vocalist of Symphonic Metal outfit Serenity, who joined forces with the multi talented composer, producer, and vocalist Oliver Philipps from Everon to form Phantasma. The final part of the jigsaw is vocalist Charlotte Wessels, who you will know doubt recognize from Dutch superstars Delain. Indeed Wessels was so keen to be involved that she wrote her debut novella, ‘The Deviant Hearts’, for the project, with each of the twelve songs telling an important part of the story, call them chapters, if you will.
The album opens quite subdued, with the piano driven ‘Incomplete’, which is almost lullaby-like, before fading into the title track, which has shades of the theme music to ‘The Pirates Of The Caribbean’ movies… all be it a supercharged version. The track is grandiose, extravagant, and totally brilliant. Tom Englund (Evergreen) appears as a guest vocalist, and he goes toe to toe with Wessels, trading lines with great aplomb over some furious, majestic riffing. Listen to it without thinking of Jack Sparrow…. can’t be done! A huge, epic, cinematic 6 minutes. ‘Runaway Gray’ is another massive, room-filling track on which Wessels showcases her incredible voice. It’s hugely uplifting, but also quite melancholic. This is an album full of variety, with each track different to the next, the common denominator being the excellent vocals from all involved, this point proven by ‘Try’, which features a guest appearance from Trans Siberian Orchestra vocalist Chloe Lowery, who nails this ballad with balls right to the wall! Stunning.
‘Enter Dreamscape’ and ‘Miserable Me’ ramp up the guitars, before the mood changes on ‘The Lotus And The Willow’, a dark and brooding duet, which tips it’s hat to the Nick Cave classic ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’, except Cave didn’t have a tortured guitar shredding half way through…. brave and bold, as well as one of many standout tracks on the album. ‘Crimson Course’ is another cinematic masterpiece, which could easily have came from a Hans Zimmer score. A crashing introduction gives way to totally unashamed Classic Rock, Jim Steinman era Meat Loaf perhaps?. ‘Carry Me Home’ features guest vocals from Dennis Schunke of German Metal acapella group Van Canto… a heart-warming track, with a huge glorious chorus that demands to be played at ’11’. If the album strays into near-Disney schmaltzy territory on ‘The Sound of Fear’, then ‘Novaturient’ blows it back on course, with some frantic drums and an equally frantic string arrangement, before ‘Let It Die’ closes the album with yet another powerhouse vocal performance from Wessels.
A hugely ambitious project that could have blown up in the faces of everyone involved, but thankfully it didn’t, and the three main components of Phantasma should be applauded for taking on such a risky adventure. Special mention must go to the incredible album artwork and packaging.
Go to Napalm Records website to check it out. In an age of instant this, and instant that, and downloading or streaming an album with a click of a button, it’s refreshing to see artists putting so much time and effort into creating a real work of art… a real passion project. I would urge you, if you are thinking of buying “The Deviant Hearts” to skip the digital version and go for the physical product. ‘Tis a thing of beauty me hearties !.
‘The Deviant Hearts’ is released through Napalm Records on November 20th,for more info go to..
Review By Dave Stott