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Joining Neuhauser, Philips and Wessels is none other than Evergrey’s Tom Englund, Dennis Schunke (Van Canto) and Cloe Lowery (TransSiberian Orchestra) on vocals as well as drummer Jason Gianni (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Neal Morse Band), Randy George (Neal Morse Band) on bass and guitarist Tom Buchberger (ex-Serenity). As line-ups go, it’s a pretty heavyweight affair and one that, on paper, promises much. As I downloaded the promo, I wondered whether it may have something to do with a lack of quality within the music itself. I therefore pressed play with slight trepidation. Within the space of a few songs however, this hypothesis was blown out of the water; the music is of a standard you’d readily expect from the personnel involved and has provided me with much enjoyment to put it mildly. ‘The Deviant Hearts’ is a slick and professional 12-track album that’s grandiose, ambitious and suitably varied throughout. Those familiar with the artists involved will immediately notice strong accents of their day jobs within the album. The big key/guitar walls of sound that dominate Everon’s output make several appearances as do the familiar chord progressions and Philipps’ thickly accented vocals. The melodic power metal sensibilities of Serenity play an active role, as do Neuhauser’s unique and powerful vocals, whilst Wessel’s contribution will have Delain fans purring thanks to another strong and committed performance. However, for all the echoes and similarities, Phantasma offers something different to all three. From all-out metallic bombast to subtle ballads, to more modern touches, ‘The Deviant Hearts’ features it all whilst managing to maintain the feeling that this is a proper rock opera with all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies such a thing. 5

The album kicks off with ‘Incomplete’ a piano and vocal ballad featuring Philipps and Wessels behind the mic. If I’m honest, it isn’t the strongest of beginnings but I understand its inclusion in terms of the concept. Following hot on its heels however, is the title track and it’s here that the magic begins. The keys create a hugely opulent introduction before the drums and guitars add a sense of drama. It all drops away and an acoustic guitar is joined by the soulful and utterly beguiling vocals of Tom Englund as he makes the first of two guest appearances on the record. And then there’s the chorus which is, frankly, enormous and hook-laden.

‘Runaway Gray’ produces another bombastic chorus within a quieter, more ballad-like number dominated by Wessels’ heartfelt vocals. ‘Try’ is another ballad that features Cloe Lowery on lead vocals and is one of my favourites on the record. I love the way it grows and in true Everon style packs a huge melodic punch, although Lowery’s voice at the beginning and end of the song is what draws me I for repeated listens, such is her fragile and absolutely beautiful delivery.

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Metal Bulletin Zine 63  

RAM Grave Ritual Phantasma Fight the Demiurge (free) Police State Stars Eat Worlds (free) Conceived by Hate Isenblåst (free) news & up...

Metal Bulletin Zine 63  

RAM Grave Ritual Phantasma Fight the Demiurge (free) Police State Stars Eat Worlds (free) Conceived by Hate Isenblåst (free) news & up...

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