Thrusting us back into 80s style melodic rock Phantom 5 return with their sophomore album ‘Play to Win’ due for release on the 13th October, 2017 on Frontiers Music Srl.
Fronted by ex-Bonfire vocalist Claus Lessmann, Phantom 5’s debut album met with some very mixed reviews, most of which pointed out the similarities to the Bonfire tracks prior to Lessmann’s departure, and which on the whole seemed too dated for my liking. With the release of this new album; and departure of bassist Francis Buchholz (ex-Scorpions) from the line-up, I was hoping to find a more modern Phantom 5, a better overall sound and maybe a new injection of rock. What I found was an album that left me feeling like I’d been robbed.
For me the tracks seemed to vary very little in their technical detail, drum tracks were repetitive and somewhat flat at times. ‘The Change in You’, ‘Crossfire’, and ‘Read Your Mind’ contain bass-lines that seemed basic and uninspiring with nothing that really stood out for me or grabbed my attention. I could easily have listened to the whole album (bar the two tracks ‘Reach out’ and ‘Do You Believe in Love’ which I’ll come back to shortly), and if I had removed the break between songs I would think I was listening to the same song throughout. The tracks lacked any major hooks, and although there are a plethora of riffs I felt as a whole the album lacked certain energy and excitement. Choruses were too similar to each other and for me this album is a safe album that feels like a time warp of 80s style rock that will no doubt attract the European and Japanese audiences, but I feel it would gain less traction in the UK and US.
However, vocally Claus Lessmann as always delivers some very strong vocals, especially in ‘Shadows Dance’ which for me this is probably the strongest track on the album. ‘Baptised’ begins with the lyrics ‘Take me back to 1980, music was alive and we were young’, which really just sums up for me that this album is firmly lodged in the past.
‘Do You Believe in Love’ begins with a really nice atmospheric intro, the drums are heavy the bass has depth and the vocals are rich and mature. The lyrics are well written, but again for me the track lacked any real hook. Robert Boebel and Michale Voss deliver some good riffs throughout the track and the drums have more variety any other track on the album.
So let’s go back to the track ‘Reach Out’, the final track on the album that is an attempt at a ballad that for me just doesn’t work. Vocally I found it emotionless and Lessmann really seemed to struggle with the vocals, for me his voice just isn’t made for this type of song.
If you love Bonfire (before the departure of Lessmann) then you’re going to love this album. It’s an ok album but it’s not something that’s going to be hitting the top 10 in the rock charts. But that’s my opinion, go listen to it and decide for yourself.
Claus Lessmann - Vocals
Michael Voss - Guitar, bass, backing vocals
Robert Boebel - Guitars and keyboards
Axel Knise - Drums and Xplosions
The Change in You
Read Your mind
Play to Win
Do You Believe in Love
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