Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Phandrom – Victims of the Sea

Norway’s Phandrom are firmly rooted in the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal of the 70’s and 80’s, spiced up, so they say, with traces of Baroque music, opera and raw elements of jazz. Leader and guitar player, Hallgeir Pedersen, co-founded Phandrom along with drummer Bjørn Ivar Aslaksen, bass player Odd Erling Simensen and vocalist Terje Storvig.

Their 6-track album, Victim of the Sea is now on release and the opening title track begins with rainfall and thunder. Then a slow picked opening wrong foots anyone expecting Black Sabbath because when the riff kicks in it’s very Rainbow but with Geoff Tate singing. Despite a strong vocal and riff it doesn’t actually go anywhere and you’re left waiting for a solo that doesn’t arrive.

Next up is ‘Stay’, this is a 7-minute workout, where we get a very Malmsteenesque solo wrapped around by another Rainbow style build and execution. The time changes break the song up nicely even when they seem to stumble in getting back together.

‘Spark in the Dark’ maintains the JLT (Bent Out of Shape) era Rainbow in its riffing, with the best vocals on the album. Storvig stays in his register and the multi-tracked vocals give a better depth than on most of the songs.

‘The Gift’ comes across as Dio era Sabbath and has another Yngwie solo but with a brilliantly discordant section in the middle. ‘Enlightenment‘ is a fast-paced rocker, which for some reason, reminds me most of early Blitzkreig, but not quite as good.

Final track, ‘They All Had (Something For You)‘ is a nigh on 9-minute epic which again is Rainbow/Sabbath influenced. This is a missed opportunity: it has potential to be truly epic but the chorus is almost poppy and yet when the time change comes in at around the 5 minute mark, we are treated to another Yngwie with a different moment.

Summarising this isn’t easy: there is evidence of skill and originality but unless the band can inject a bit more of their own identity into the writing, they may become one amongst many for, on this evidence, they are unlikely to ‘hit the big time’. That is not to say that they aren’t worth listening to they most certainly are.

Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon
North East born, South West domiciled music lover - mainly heavy rock & blues but not averse to other genres. I'm fortunate to have retired early & I can now take full advantage of the 40+ years I have spent collecting, listening, watching & playing (badly) & have enjoyed researching how blues in particular has shaped the music we know & love today. Now if only I could get my Strat & Musicman to sound in reality how they do in my head!

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