"The Opera of the Phantom"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Sharp readers may recall the name of Kevin Goocher. He was lead singer for the abortive attempt at an Omen comeback in the early 2000's. That never really got anywhere and Goocher is no longer associated with Omen, but he still has his own band Phantom-X to keep him busy. To be honest, he sounds better here than he did with Omen and while Phantom-X is kind of a cheesy band in some ways, they are damn entertaining to listen to, especially if you are a fan of classic American power metal like Attacker, Helstar and...of course...Omen.

"The Opera of the Phantom" consists of 16 tracks and thereby hangs its biggest problem. Four tunes could have trimmed off this mammoth with no harm whatsoever. 13 out of the 16 tracks are devoted to a concept tale having to do with the usual crazy stuff like Nostradamus, cloning, time travel and what-not. There are lots of silly voice-overs and evil laughter throughout, but when Phantom-X puts their nose to the grindstone, they can really kick ass. They are especially potent with fast and heavy killers such as "The Mask", "Storm Riders" and the very intense "Deep Six Down". Goocher has a voice like a cross between Saxon's Biff Byford and a more nasal Dio...good for this material but not what you'd call a "blowaway" voice. The drumming is really powerful and the guy knows his stuff.

The band also tries its hand at more introspective and moody metal, in the realm of Queensryche and Fates Warning. These songs, such as "A Strange World" and "Everspell", are not as pleasing to me as the more upfront tunes like "The Cloning of Christ", but fans of that style will enjoy them. None of the songs are really bad (although the segues and voiceovers are as corny as hell) but the last three songs that are unaffiliated with the main concept could have easily been left off.

A pretty enjoyable pure metal album from Phantom-X and Mr. Goocher.