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PHANTOM’S OPERA ‘Act IV’ Escape Music ESM083(2003)

The fourth album by the band that first debuted back in 1995. The line-up this time around features mainman keyboard player Jack Young with Eric Walz (bass), Bob Nelson (drums) and Bob Gilmartin (guitars). The vocalist this time around is Terry Brock, who has previously sung with Strangeways, the Sign plus his own solo work and is highly regarded in melodic rock circles.

As the band’s name suggests the band play very theatrical music - a metal Andrew Lloyd Webber if you will! Opener ‘Etched In Stone’ rocks big time with some crunchy guitar and Terry Brock’s vocals holding-up well in a heavy environment. The infectious ‘By Reason Of Insanity’ follows with glorious keyboards and catchy chorus. ‘Hopeless Love’ is Queen! The multi-layered harmonies and Brian May guitar solo - simply superb. ‘In The Morning’ is a epic track that will have even Manowar fans in awe! Starting with the cries of a condemned man then leading into more spoken word before the guitars and keyboards kick in. Guitarist Bob Gilmartin earns his keep on this track with some quick fire soloing. ‘Christine’ is a piano led song with those backing vocals working well again and hints of Styx in there as well, plus those Brian May harmonic guitar parts are back!

Fans of Savatage and Queen will love the sounds on this album - pomp metal with the great vocal talents of Terry Brock. Special mention as well to Jack Young’s keyboards and lyrics, which create such fantastical visions in your head as you listen to this album. A very pleasurable listening experience!



Review by Jason Ritchie

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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