Phantoms - As Above, So Below (CD) Comprised of former members of Sydney darlings Rex Banner and Jack Napier, Phantoms completed a great deal in their first 12 months as a band, hitting the road numerous times to showcase their brand of metallic influenced hardcore, which lead to the eventual signing with the almighty Trial And Error Records, and the band unleashing their punishing debut, "As Above, So Below".
Kicking things off is the heavy and haunting intro, fittingly titled "The Ghost", which leads into "Bad Vibrations", which is a pretty good summary of what Phantoms are all about. Front man Caed Francis has completely changed his vocal style since his days in Jack Napier, and is sounding better than ever while being backed up by the two man riff attack of guitarists Kelly and Red. The fan favourite "The Death Of..." is one of the strong points of the album, and after the first listen you will be able to judge why many consider this to be one of the best songs the band has written to date.
"And The Way Was Paved With Dirt" sees the band trading in their hard riffs for guitar solos, which is backed up by one of the heaviest tracks on the record, the title track "As Above, So Below". The track is unrelenting from start to finish, with all elements of the band sounding tough as nails. The mosh part towards the end of the song is sure to get some fists swinging and some heads nodding. The re-recorded version of "Eye Of The Storm" has been given a new breath of fresh air and sounds fantastic with the better recording and production. Relentless bass master and all round guru Dcold (@Mr_Dcold) lends his vocals to the track "Cursed Earth", during one of the most memorable parts of the record. The guitar harmonies in this section of the record are superb; something that will stick with you even after the track has finished.
One of the great things Phantoms have managed to do with this record is give it a bit of a variety through the instrumental track "The Darkness", and the intro to "Born Under A Bad Sign," which add a good contrast to hard hitting riffs that the other tracks are stocked with. Some of the riffs in "Of Plague And Pestilence" remind me of a heavier Blkout, one of the best bands playing the NYHC sound in Australia at the moment. One of the most noticeable parts of "Born Under A Bad Sign" is the James Hetfield-esque throaty vocals from Francis, something that has been dabbled into numerous times throughout the record, but this is where they are at their peak.
Closing out the album is the longest and most melodic track on the record, "Bottom Of The Harbour". The track reminds me of "Heavier Than Heaven" era Blacklisted at times, especially in the vocal delivery. The track is a perfect way to send out the record as it shows that Phantoms have a few more tricks up their already packed sleeves, highlighting that they are a step above majority of the other bands in this hard riffs craze at the moment. CONCLUSION. The band's very intoxicated guitarist told me a few months ago that this record is one of the "best Australian hardcore releases of the last five years," and after hearing it, his claim isn't as silly as I thought it was at the time. Phantoms have released a full-length of absolute quality, a definite contender for Australian hardcore record of the year.
Tracklisting: 1. The Ghost 2. The Death Of 3. Bad Vibrations 4. And The Way Was Paved With Dirt 5. As Above, So Below 6. Eye Of The Storm 7. Cursed Earth 8. The Darkness 9. Of Plague And Pestilence 10. Born Under A Bad Sign 11. The Horse Latitudes 12. Bottom Of The Harbour
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