Monday, April 23, 2012

PHENOMENA :Awakening"

Rating: 6/10

Label: Escape 2012

Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

There's a popular tv series in Sweden about our language (accents) where the main theme song is "Dance With The Devil" from the first Phenomena (1985). Perhaps not that strange considering the wacky tv-host, original and very much former Crystal Pride drummer, Fredrik "Bongo" Lindström. However, what once started out as an ambitious concept album brought to life by Tom Galley (the brother of Mel - Whitesnake, Trapeze, etc.) and based around short stories revolving around a theme of supernatural phenomena, nowadays, just another AOR project with little or any reference whatsoever to the supernatural.

I have no idea if Tom Galley has any major part in Awakening (besides co-producer), but there's a couple of blasts from the past here. For instance, the song, Homeland, written by Galley and Glenn Hughes and originally found on the latters 1994 solo album "From Now on" is now performed by Rob "Mickey Mouse" Moratti (Saga, Final Frontier). Otherwise, the overall style of the album is at times similar to the 2nd and 3rd album in the Phenomena series, rather than their debut. Clearly not quite as impressive, but it's at least proper craftmanship and a decent cast of singers/musicians.

The opening two tracks, Smash It Up (Lee Small on Vocals, Mat Sinner Bass, Magnus Karlsson Lead Guitars) and Reality (Toby Hitchcock on vocals and Mike Slamer on Lead Guitars), had me constantly thinking about 'Dreamrunner'. Old skool melodic rock like in the mid eighties (1987 actually). Close your eyes and you can almost imagine it being John Wetton and Ray Gillen (R.I.P.) and the days of Dreamrunner. Well, not quite (heh!), but it's darn good anyhow. "Going Away" (James Christian vocals and Tommy Denander on Guitars) doesn't work out as well as the fore-mentioned ones. The same goes for "Gotta Move" (Ralf Scheepers on vocals) and I always tend to skip this track (plodding stuff).

How Long (Lee Small on vocals and Martin Kronlund on Guitars) dates back to the traditional Phenomena sound. Neat! Fighter (Terry Brock on vocals and Steve Newman on Guitars) is wacky and uncommerical with an excellent performance by Brock. Dancing Days (Niklas Swedentorp on Lead Vocals with all Coldspell members), is not pleasing to these ears and better off leaving alone. Stand Up For Love (Chris Antblad with JAVA Gospel Choir) has absolutely nothing to do with Phenomena as it's a rather typical Antbland pop/rock/gospel song. Which makes ya' wonder really, what exactly did Mr.Galley do other than letting them use and record an album under the Phenomena banner/monicker?

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