Phenomena - Phenomena
The idea of super projects in metal is not by far a new innovation. In the middle of the 80's a bunch of talented musicians gathered to further evolve their musical ideas outside of their band's borders and named their project Phenomena. It consisted of masterminds and musicians involved in genre-forming classic bands like Rainbow, Deep Purple, Gary Moore, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Michael Schenker Group, Thin Lizzy to mention a few and the members penned on the line up list are actually not the entirety of people involved. In addition to those aforementioned there where also Tom Galley (founder of the project), John Thomas (guitarist from another 80's band called Budgie) and Ted McKenna (drummer in Sensational Alex Harvey Band), all recognized and reputed musicians in those days. The sonical signature of Phenomena is pure melodic metal/hard rock with a pop-ish approach, and even though unique there's no doubt which decade it originated from. The keyboard/synthesizer has been given much room in the compositions and the more electrified/synthesized sounding drumming from master Cozy Powell makes the album sound a little nicer and more "modern" than what the member's other bands sounded like. There are hints of Whitesnake, touches of Rainbow, small portions of Gary Moore, Thin Lizzy details and virtually influences from all these leading bands but the sonical results are a sound solely and exclusively Phenomena's very own. It's very easy to digest and you get the hang of it instantly but it possesses a certain grace and an elegance I've seldom come across on other releases over the years.
This album brings up very special emotions for me since it actually was one of the very first hard rock sounding albums I really listened to. I clearly remember my friends talking about it very often and the astounded feeling it produced for a kid around 12 years old but the album still evokes the same pleasurable feelings only experienced from different view-points. The album contains many memorable melodic rockers with very unique touches and especially Rick Sanders fiddle-work on Dance With the Devil is the album top notch performance as is the entire song. The hypnotic electric fiddle theme really sticks, runs through the entire song and even though it's very repetitive it works fantastically well. A true classic! Other real stand-out tracks are the opener Kiss of Fire that leans towards Whitesnake's legendary Gambler from their Slide it In album, the more epic Believe and the emotional little faster Hell on Wings, that reminds quite much of Dance With the Devil only without the violin. Phoenix Rising is a very beautiful ballad and once again a quite simple formula is taken to new levels with Glenn Hughes awesome vocal delivery.
His soaring part is as usual pure top notch and on this release he's better than I've ever heard him. In an interview though he states that he only spent a few sessions during a couple of days in the studio for the entire album but the people in the control room were actually crying when they listened. That's usually a tell-tell sign that you actually move people with your abilities! I don't exactly react quite that strongly but Hughes delivers the goods very emotionally and soulfully and really highlights already great compositions the way only a true master of his craft can accomplish. In the same interview Hughes also states that the Phenomena project is something he'd rather forget and the relationships in the band were so frosty on certain aspects that he obviously never got paid for the job
Curiosa laid to rest though; I really think that this
classic Phenomena album still stands as one of the better melodic metal/hard
rock albums ever recorded together with some of Magnum's best work.
It's got a very rich, delicate, and ambient feel with a very unique
atmosphere and an aura rarely equalled or surpassed in melodic hard
rock environments. Two more Phenomena albums have been released (Phenomena
II: Dreamrunner and Phenomena III: Inner Vision with among others Brian
May) but neither of those can match this first metal gem. Absolutely
check this album out if the genre and above all Glen Hughes appeal to
you and you want to explore some great 80's melodic hard rock again.
There's also a particular edition of the vinyl release with a special
illustrated booklet and if you'll get your hands on that one you'd better
hold on very tight because it was already back then considered a rare