Phoenix Reign Destination Unknown


Self Release

Website: Phoenix Reign

 

 

 

Although this review is about a debut album, we have to leap back to the year 1998 for the birth of the band Phoenix Reign. It was in this year that Greek guitarist Billy Chrissos and bassist Chris Pollatos decided to form a band. Together with guitarist Kostas Psarros and drummer Wayne Noon a demo was released in the United States, the guys still went under the name "Phoenix" back then. Many gigs in the underground scene followed and when singer Theresa Gaffney joined the band in 2002 the name was changed into "Phoenix Reign". Slowly but surely the band gained opportunities to play larger venues and in 2005 it was decided that the time had come to release an album. A number of songs from the demo were re-recorded along with new material, resulting in the 2007 release of a brand-new album entitled 'Destination Unknown'. Due to the absence of a record label, the album is mainly sold via the band's website. As the promotional activities are somewhat slow, it is taking some time for the band to get noticed by the European scene.

The opening track "The Gates of Bosphorus" is a traditional intro, track two "Transcendent" quickly gives us a taste of what Phoenix Reign is all about: reasonably up-tempo melodic powermetal with a thick layer of guitars and a capable vocalist. The fact that the band is fronted by a female singer may lead to initial jump-the -gun comparisons with the gothic genre but these will turn out to be groundless. All of Phoenix Reign's members have been inspired by rock/metal classic icons such as Zeppelin, Guns 'n Roses, Priest and Maiden. Although Phoenix Reign has chosen its own musical path, the Iron Maiden influences in particular are clearly audible. Mostly up-tempo guitar riffs are supported by speedy drumparts and swift basslines. Now and then these different elements are a little hard to distinguish, it seems like a relatively small budget for the production takes its toll here and there. "Masquerade Angel" is another uptempo track on which Theresa displays her warmer, softer vocal qualities, although we have a hunch that she prefers the more powerful songs where she can really open it up and show us what she's made of. Track 4 "Forgotten" starts off with an acoustic guitar part followed by an electric counterpart with a slightly predictable chorus. "Another Night Alone" has riffs and drumbreaks that remind us of numerous eighties albums. "Open Your Eyes" starts off in a mellow mood, when all of a sudden an unexpected twist in the guitar parts bursts into being, this kind of threw us. Phoenix reign is not at all a bad band but what they lack is originality.. "Run Now" is yet another song that doesn't sound bad, it just sounds a lot like the other tracks on this album. "Wherever You Are" brings a little variation although the slower parts in this song seem rather uninspired. The solid instrumental part in this song is definitely worth mentioning, let it be clear that, technically speaking, this band has got it together. The title track sounds more like an eighties track than any other song on this album. Did I mention Manowar, Malmsteen and Maiden? Musically it's first-rate but it's just kind of weird to hear Theresa belting instead of Bruce or Halford. Theresa has a very decent voice, it's just the combination with this music that raises a question mark. "Moving On " holds no surprises and "Constantinople 1453", with its slow intro and classical instruments, is a song that fits the tradition of including a long, epic track on a heavy metal album. However, with twelve minutes, this is too much of a good thing.

In case it wasn't clear yet: this debut album by Phoenix Reign clearly displays what the band is capable of: fine axework, solid drums and bass and a vocalist with volume and guts. Unfortunately the album sounds kind of frail production-wise. Tempo, riffs and vocal outbursts collide in the end. Although it's hard to enjoy this album to its fullest extent, I am convinced this band will rip it up live on stage. (Ben Holster)

 

Tracklist:

01. The Gates of Bosphorus

02. Transcendent

03. Masquerade Angel

04. Forgotten

05. Another Night Alone

06. Open Your Eyes

07. Run Now

08. Wherever You Are

09. Destination Unknown

10. Moving On

11. Constantinople 1453

 

Theresa Gaffney - Vocals

Billy Chrissochos Guitar

Kostas Psarros - Guitar

Chris Pollatos - Bass

Wayne Noon - Drums