Phantom X is a Melodic Power Metal band from Dallas, Texas, USA. Their beginnings date back to 2003 as a Ronnie James Dio tribute band called Stargazer. Once they began writing some original material, their debut album was released in 2005. Their latest effort, The Opera Of The Phantom, is the bands fourth full-length album. Phantom X gains a large part of their musical influence from the main Classic Metal bands of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Dio. Lead singer Kevin Goocher has openly stated they make a very conscious decision to remain true to Classic Metal sounds.
The Opera Of The Phantom is actually somewhat of concept album. There is some very Yoda-like narration featured in-between many of the tracks to help tell a sorted story. Additionally, many of the tracks are re-recorded songs from previous Phantom X albums.
The most noticeable element of Phantom X is the eccentric vocal talents of Kevin Goocher. Goocher first appeared as lead vocalist for the legendary American band Omen on their 2003 comeback album, Eternal Black Dawn. His vocal style is a high-pitched, rugged tone, similar to that of Metal Church vocalists David Wayne and Mike Howe. Goocher’s vocals define the sound of Phantom X and essentially carry each track. His overall range may not have much depth; however, his diverse style is what makes him special. He has the ability to sing in a low, sinister growl as well as very smoothly and melodically.
Guitarist Bill Engfer does a great job of putting forth some great standard Power Metal riffs and formidable solos. However, Engfer guitars are not the vanguard of each track, and almost seems as if they are in the background during most of the songs. All of the power and emotion in each track is derived mostly from Goocher’s vocals. If the band had a second guitarist, and the production favored the guitar sound more predominantly, then Phantom X would certainly be a more dominant Power Metal force.
Essentially, Phantom X doesn’t offer much to set them apart from other contemporary Power Metal bands. The musicianship is seemingly average at best. One thing the band does have going for them are strong and unified compositions. The songs on The Opera Of The Phantom are generally well-written and arranged. Some of the highlights include the track “Holy Hell”, which features a driving fast riff and some nicely placed Rob Halford-like vocal lines. Another great song is the ballad “A Strange World” featuring a slower, melancholy tone and some great, smooth vocals.
The Opera Of The Phantom does not have a great deal to offer as an effective Power Metal album. The overall presentation is slightly dated and the aforementioned technical issues cause this album to be rather run of the mill. Sixteen tracks and 67 minutes of music are way too much to take in given the shortcomings. In a nutshell, there are great songs with poor execution and too many improvements necessary to make this one a classic.
Official Phantom X Website
Pure Steel Records