After a wonderful debut in 2017 with “Wasteland” and landing a multi-album deal with Frontiers Music in 2019, PHANTOM ELITE are getting ready to release their sophomore effort, “Titanium.” Fronted by rising talent Marina La Torraca (EXIT EDEN), this Dutch/Brazilian metal band is also comprised of guitarist Max van Esch and drummer Joeri Warmerdam, and together they play symphonic metal with a modern metal twist. The album is expected to drop on January 22, 2021, on Frontiers Music.
Composed and produced together with Sander Gommans (known for his work with AFTER FOREVER), “Titanium” offers ten refreshing tracks, plus an interlude (“Haven”), that are heavy, fierce, and melodic. The best way to describe their music is to say that PHANTOM ELITE is at the crossroads of EPICA’s big, imposing sound and AMARANTHE’s energy and dynamism. As such, the riffs are heavy, the choruses are highly entertaining, the melodies are grand, and the electronic overlays (from Koen Stam) add dimension and vibrancy to the music. It’s so reinvigorating to see new talent like BEYOND THE BLACK, DARK SARAH, AD INFINITUM, DELAIN, or ILLUMISHADE create their own niche within the symphonic metal genre by twisting the rules and adding new sonic shades to the mix. You can now add PHANTOM ELITE to that list and watch out for them in the years to come. They might surprise you.
There are two sides to “Titanium” that make it a dynamic and engaging album from start to finish – a heavier and more guitar-driven part and a more cinematic and progressive part that complete and complement each other nicely. The first taste of the new music came with the release of symphonic power metal anthem “Diamonds and Dark,” which feature a nice combination of all the elements that are to be found, in varying degrees, on this album, from nasty riffs and pounding drums to some sick keyboards and impressive vocals. Opening track and album highlight “Conjure Rains” falls very much in line with this powerful sound by gripping the listener’s attention immediately and setting up a dark tone for the album to follow. The aggression factor is ramped up to eleven on “Worst Part of Me” as it features some growls from Stef Rikken (ANOTHER NOW) while the bass parts add gravity to the song and the guitar parts are monstrous, to say the least. Also, that breakdown is heavy and ferocious. Heaviness meets trance on “Glass Crown,” as the somewhat poppish and catchy vocal melody could easily be remixed by Tiësto or Armin van Buuren into a crowd-pleaser at their shows. However, the instrumental keeps it grounded and meaty.
Things change a bit with the lengthy title track as PHANTOM ELITE starts showing off their more progressive and cinematic side, thus making “Titanium” into an epic and dense piece of music with a groovy flow to it and impressive guitar work from Max van Esch. The second single, “The Race,” is another great example of their brand of prog metal with modern touches. On the mellower side of things, “Bravado,” with its 80’s feel, and “Silver Lining” are more atmospheric numbers where Marina La Torraca’s vocals seem to be the driving force of the music with the keyboard soundscapes enhancing the mood. Speaking of Marina La Torraca, she really showcases her potential and chops, as her vocal delivery is outstanding across the board, tying everything together and giving the album unity and fluidity. The wonderful Amanda Somerville makes a cameo on both “Silver Lining” and album closer “Eyes Wide Open,” and the combination of their vocals works marvelously. The recent single, “Deliverance,” is a fuller and richer track, with a poppy melody that should get listeners pumped and eager for more of what this album has to offer.
It is said that a band’s second studio effort is indicative of their craft and musicianship, and I am glad to report that “Titanium” is a step up or two above their very promising “Wasteland,” thus breaking the so-called “sophomore curse.” This album shows PHANTOM ELITE as a band with a solid grasp on their sound and enough confidence to dive into heavier territories and darker waters. “Titanium” delivers on all fronts, from addictive melodies to hefty guitar parts to a tight drumming section and lively keys, all capped off by a versatile vocal performance. What more can you ask for? Groovy album to jam to at the start of 2021.
Written by Andrea Crow
- Conjure Rains
- The Race
- Diamonds And Dark
- Worst Part Of Me
- Glass Crown
- Silver Lining
- Eyes Wide Open
Marina La Torraca – vocals
Max van Esch – guitars & bass
Joeri Warmerdam – drums
GALLERY: 3.3.2023 Amorphis @ Logomo, Turku
GALLERY: 7.3.2023 Emian & Faun @ Tavastia, Helsinki
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