Despite having the sort of cut-price logo that reminds me of countless support-level bands I might have seen at Cardiff’s Bogiez night club back in the day, German duo Midnight Phantom actually have quite a bit going for them…
Christian Heimbucher does all the grunt work instrumentally, with Stephan Wsintek putting the vocal cherries on top, and together the pair have come up with an album that will immediately transport you back to the eighties. Opening track Forbidden Land crashes out of the speakers in a hail of wah-wahed guitar that would have made Matthias Jabs a bit nervous in his heyday, and this sets the scene perfectly for what’s to come.
On the whole, the rockers are more convincing than the ballads, with tracks like Where I Belong not sitting quite so comfortably with the modern ear as pounding, straight forward singalong songs such as Children of the 80s or the slow-building epic Heroes Never Die. The latter track has a real air of class about it – you could easily imagine it appearance on an Avantasia album – and it features Wsintek’s most commanding performance on the album. The Savatage-styled multi vocalled end to the song is a particular highlight.
Elsewhere Silent Hunter is a nice piece of early eighties radio metal, whilst the superb Order 666 is heavier, featuring jagged riffage and great vocals which will prompt happy memories of the first couple of Mad Max albums. Heibucher plays a great solo on this track, with the overall feeling being that this is possibly the style of music that works best for Midnight Phantom.
Enjoyable stuff, then, even if the inevitably derivative nature of the some of the material on offer is going to stop some listeners from fully committing to the album. For those who don’t mind a bit of nostalgia, however, there’s enough to enjoy here to make this a worthwhile purchase.
Hollywood Dreams is out now.