Album Review – Phantom / …Of Gods and Men (2014)

With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.

Rating3

Of Gods And Men v2.9Do you really love Heavy Metal? Do you not only listen to it, but feel it and live it every single day of your life? If your answer is “YES!”, screaming with your horns in the air, you MUST listen to …Of Gods and Men, the brand new album by Canadian Heavy Metal band Phantom, by far one of the best new metal bands I can think of. D.D. Murley, Necro Hippie and J.J. Blade (who unfortunately has left the band to pursue other career goals) are true Heavy Metal warriors, and they more than deliver it in this indie masterpiece.

Formed in January of 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, this Heavy Metal/Power Metal trio simply masters the art of crafting catchy, dynamic and nostalgic music, inspired by the musicality of the 80’s with huge doses of energy and passion for Heavy Metal. After releasing their 2013 EP The Powers That Be, and after playing the Newblood Stage at the famous Bloodstock Festival in the UK in 2014, this promising and electrifying band sounds even more mature and more than ready to conquer the world with their first full-length album. …Of Gods and Men is a Heavy Metal extravaganza, with each and every song definitely worth our time, money, screams and horns.

A megalith is not only a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones, like Stonehenge in the UK or the Easter Island’s Moai, but also the album art in …Of Gods and Men and the album’s imposing intro, Megalith, setting the tone for the superb Children of the Stars to kick some serious ass: the name is 80’s metal, the music is 80’s metal, and it’s totally awesome from start to finish.  Vocalist/guitarist D.D. Murley has an amazing voice, he is a great riffmaker, and he will surely get you pumped to scream with him the simple but excellent chorus “Pray for us / Children of the stars”. In other words, he knows how to deliver Heavy Metal to us all.

Too Young to Die, with its awesome bass lines and drums, introduces to us the refined skills of the other band members, bassist Necro Hippie and drummer J.J. Blade. Besides, its great energy and the message in the lyrics are a delight to fans of old school metal music, making it almost impossible not to start banging our heads nonstop. However, it’s the next song that can be considered the icing on the cake in …Of Gods and Men: Blood & Iron, a song heavily inspired by behemoths like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon, is the epitome of Heavy Metal, and there isn’t a single detail here that’s not 100% pure fuckin’ metal. I saw Phantom playing it live once opening for Blaze Bayley here in Toronto, and it got stuck inside my mind instantly. With its perfect galloping rhythm, Manowar-ish lyrics and also the “Oh-oh-oh-oh!” halfway through it, this is already a classic no matter if it’s a brand new song by an indie band. Why these guys are not signed yet to a strong record label is a question beyond my comprehension.

phantom-promoAnyway, the longest song of the album, The Kings Road, is more melodic than its predecessors, reminding me of old school Iron Maiden from Piece Of Mind and Powerslave with elements from 70’s Psychedelic Rock. It’s indeed a bold 8-minute instrumental track where all band members showcase their outstanding techniques as musicians. Right after that metal feast we have another intro, this time called Trinity, which invites us to enjoy the title-track, Of Gods and Men, with its beginning being a good indicator that pure metal is about to come. It’s another lesson in heavy music, with highlights to its great chorus and to the incredible synergy among all band members.

How not to headbang like a motherfuckin’ bastard to something that sounds even like old school Anthrax due to its heavier approach? Well, that’s the case in The Devil In Me, with its ressonating bass lines guiding the music while J.J. Blade pounds his drum kit. And lastly, the band offers us Beyond the Sun, a song that will leave us eager for more of Phantom’s heavy music without a shadow of a doubt. This is like Iron Maiden with Paul Di’Anno on vocals, with all its shredding, solos and insane speed making it truly outstanding.

The band will release …Of Gods and Men on December 6 at Toronto’s own legendary rock bar, the Bovine Sex Club, and if you live in Toronto or will be around the city on that day or weekend, do not miss the chance to witness one of the most powerful and exciting indie bands in Canada. There will be plenty of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire for all fans that attend their concert, and even more to tame the entire world with the release of such an epic album. This is Heavy Metal, period.

Best moments of the album: Children of the Stars, Blood & Iron and Beyond the Sun.

Worst moments of the album: Nothing in …Of Gods and Men is bad or boring at all.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Megalith 2:24
2. Children of the Stars 4:18
3. Too Young to Die 3:57
4. Blood & Iron 4:04
5. The Kings Road 8:20
6. Trinity 1:11
7. Of Gods and Men 5:28
8. The Devil In Me 5:08
9. Beyond the Sun 5:38

Band members
D.D. Murley – lead vocals and guitar
Necro Hippie – bass guitar
J.J. Blade – drums*

* Currently J.J. Blade has left the band to pursue other career goals.

Advertisements

Concert Review – Blaze Bayley (Hard Rock Café, Toronto, ON, 10/17/2014)

The Messiah blessed his loyal fans with pure Heavy Metal at Indie Week Canada 2014 in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Laugh At The Fakes, The Blackcloud Syndicate, Spewgore and Phantom

blaze bayley torontoOn a very pleasant not-so-cold night in the heart of Toronto during Indie Week Canada, from October 15 to October 19, Hard Rock Café was invaded on October 17 by around 150 metalheads to support four amazing local bands, with the icing on the cake being an electrifying performance by the “Messiah” Blaze Bayley, as part of the festival’s Metal Showcase.

I can’t say I was expecting more or less people than that, probably a little more due to the presence of such a great musician as Blaze, but one thing that I loved about the festival was the sense of family among all bands and fans at the venue, including Blaze himself who spent a lot of time talking to fans, taking pictures and signing stuff, as well as being able to put some faces to names like Jon Asher, from Asher Media Relations. You will read more about this great guy from Montreal, his business and the bands he works with here at The Headbanging Moose for sure.

IMG_2993The first attraction to hit the stage was Rock/Metal band LAUGH AT THE FAKES, from Toronto, Ontario. Those guys play a nice mix of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, very old school but with a more polished sounding, and they surely entertained everyone already at Hard Rock Café before 9pm. Although it was impossible to get or memorize the setlists of any of the opening bands, I know Laugh At The Fakes played a pretty cool song called Killing Time, from their debut album Dethrone the Crown, which will  be released pretty soon and, of course, reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose.

Band members
Everett Mason – guitar, vocals
Kevin Daliri – guitar
Galen Weir – bass
Chris Avalos – drums

IMG_2997After some Rock N’ Roll and a short beer break, it was time for Thrash Metal/Hardcore band THE BLACKCLOUD SYNDICATE, also from Toronto, Ontario, to speed things up with their visceral music, with highlights to the wicked performance by lead singer Miko Zolefrapanidis. The guy was on fire, probably inspired by Blaze’s usual performance. In regards to the songs, I truly enjoyed a song named Protest the Riot and their cover version for Billy Idol’s classic Rebel Yell, both from their 2013 release called Rage in Common.

Band members
Miko Zolefrapanidis – vocals
Giuseppe D’Angelo – guitar
Graham Scott Anthony – guitar
Shawn Davidson – bass
Glenn Novak – drums

IMG_3003And there was more violence to come with the third indie band of the night, Thrash Metal/Hardcore veterans SPEWGORE, from Brampton, Ontario. Led by vocalist Bill Brown, the band took the proverbial phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” seriously, as they were able to deliver an almost full setlist in a very limited amount of time. If you enjoy fast, short and brutal hardcore songs, go after the music by this Canadian band. They truly delivered a nonstop energetic concert at the festival.

Band members
Bill Brown – vocals
Steve Macpherson – guitars
Ken Gibson – bass
Mark Macpherson – drums

IMG_3004The last attraction before the Messiah was Heavy Metal band PHANTOM, from Toronto, Ontario, and let me tell you those guys make the expression “New Wave Of Canadian Heavy Metal” more real than ever! What an amazing band, with powerful songs such as their new single Blood & Iron being the perfect warm-up for Blaze Bayley. Kudos to D.D. Murley, Necro Hippie and J.J. Blade for keeping the fire of Heavy Metal burning, and for reminding us why the 80’s were the best decade in the history of music by far.

Band members
D.D. Murley – lead vocals and guitar
Necro Hippie – bass guitar
J.J. Blade – drums and backing vocals

BLAZE BAYLEY

IMG_3015Coincidence or not, when the clock hit two minutes to midnight, BLAZE BAYLEY began his flaming performance at Hard Rock Café, accompanied by the extremely competent Iron Maiden tribute band MAIDEN QUÉBEC, from Montreal, Quebec, who were by the way supporting Blaze in all of his Canadian dates.

Celebrating 20 years of the controversial, obscure and awesome album The X Factor, Blaze and Maiden Québec presented a very interesting mix of his first solo albums (when his band was called only BLAZE) and Iron Maiden songs. And it wasn’t a perfect mix, just an interesting one, because unfortunately there were absolutely no songs from his best solo albums, the masterpieces The Man Who Would Not Die and Promise and Terror, which I can understand based on the fact Blaze is a 100% solo artist now, relying on local bands to build his setlist wherever he goes. I know it might be hard for any band to learn too many “new” songs in a short period of time, and so adding songs Maiden Québec are used to play like Running Free, Whathchild and Wasted Years was the most viable solution for all musicians involved.

IMG_3024Anyway, despite those minor limitations, it was indeed a great performance by “the man who will not die”, with highlights to songs such as The Brave, Silicon Messiah and Kill and Destroy, together with his Maiden-years songs When Two Words Collide (which I saw live only once, during the Virtual XI World Tour in 1998), Lord of the Flies, the all-time classics Futureal and Man on the Edge, and the more-than-perfect The Clansman. How can a normal person not get all fired up with this epic song, especially after Blaze’s inspiring words about living our lives, about feeling the sense of true freedom? This song always makes me want to be Scottish, I just love it!

IMG_2998

The Messiah is among us!

But the most important detail of the whole concert was, of course, Blaze Bayley himself. There’s an expression in Brazilian Portuguese that summarizes the state of a person when he is fearless, brave, lionhearted, and 100% ready for war: we say that person has “sangue nos olhos”, or blood in his eyes in English (not in a surgical way, of course), and that’s exactly how I see Blaze Bayley every single time he’s on stage. He gives it all, no matter if he’s playing for 50 or 50,000 people, and he literally demands each and every motherfucker from the crowd to join him in an incredible metal music havoc. You cannot hide from Blaze, he will see you standing still and kindly ask you “Hey, you, motherfucker! Come on!”, it doesn’t matter if you worked for over eight hours, if you’re fuckin’ exhausted nor if it’s already 1:30am. And that’s how true independent Heavy Metal is done.

Setlist
1. Lord of the Flies
2. When Two Worlds Collide
3. The Brave
4. Ghost in the Machine
5. Silicon Messiah
6. Ten Seconds
7. The Clansman
8. Futureal
9. The Launch
10. Soundtrack of My Life
11. Kill and Destroy
12. Man on the Edge
13. Running Free
14. Wrathchild
15. Iron Maiden
16. Wasted Years

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals

Maiden Québec (Canadian tour support band)
Pat Lalonde – vocals
Steven Bergeron – lead guitars
Leandro Alves – lead guitars
Math Gagnon – bass
Jef Rastoldo – drums