First album from this Danish band and odd things are afoot. Upfront I need to say that Phantom are seriously, highly promising (which only makes sense as I, Voidhanger know their stuff): They are brimming over with more ideas than a Japanese games studio on acid and do their damnedest to crush them all into each and every song. Which, of course, is not how you do it but, shit, you wish more bands would try as it is definitely the best place to start.
Phantom (a name that considering how many other bands there are with that sobriquet, is not their best idea) play something that I think will end up being an intriguing blend of funeral doom, black and death metal with an accent on the spooky and an ear for the melodic. It’s kind of a half, less hammer horror, cousin to The Vision Bleak in a way. On tracks like ‘The Sickening Sermon’ they have that wonderful touch that Sargeist have allying a thundering, driving song with a treble melody to absolutely die for, but then on songs like opener ‘Ghostly’ they plink plonk away on an out of tune piano searching for the spooky but sounding more like A Forest Of Stars or Ebony Lake falling asleep. Something they do far better on the final song, the excellent ‘The Night Spectre’.
So yes, at the moment they often veer into the slightly ill-judged or the fractured composition, but for every slight misstep like the death metal plodding bits in ‘Solar’, there are three or four more of prospective true greatness (often in the same song!) and the more you listen to Incendiary Serum the more you just go with the huge atmosphere and melodic grasp amidst the riffing and the truly excellent, expressive vocals. And I really need to commend them on keeping things to a sensible length throughout too: Nine songs and forty five minutes is spot on and sidesteps the usual urge to keep grinding out long songs and stupidly long albums that don’t warrant it. So yeah, they know their stuff too.
Favourite pieces? Closer ‘The Night Spectre’ with a piano bubbling under the riff and a style like an old Opeth but way more direct and even clean vocals. ‘Erratum’ and its classic black metal stylings with a mournful melody and fine vocal variations. The aforementioned ‘The Sickening Sermon’ which plunges into pitch black prayers on gloriously unholy wings. The vision of ‘Judge Them ‘ reaching from soft, insulator funeral doom past an outbreak of beautifully judged heavy metal lead breaks and into rolling, progressive black metal. My favourite song. Probably.
So there it is: Far from perfect but already more than just listenable, Phantom are hauling around a great sack of atmospheric potential and if they keep this broad sub-genre crossing sound they can’t go wrong. Tighten up the songwriting with better flow between the passages and they will be there. Tantalisingly close already I seriously look forward to their next move.
Really, give them a good, long, solid listen. There is true magick here and they will prove it.