Let´s put in reverse and return to 1983. Tom Galley conjured up a couple of transcendental stories backed by the record label Bronze. The finalized product, the self-titled album, appeared in 1985. Nothing much you may say, but the project engaged such luminaries as Glenn Hughes (ex. DEEP PURPLE, BLACK COUNTY COMMUNION), Cozy Powell (RAINBOW, WHITESNAKE etc. (R.I.P.), Don Airey of just about every major band, Neil Murray, likewise, and the elite force tag was there. The second outing, “Phenomena II – Dream Runner” came out in 1987, and was also well-received. Slight musical changes had taken place, but there was new breed like Ray Gillen (BADLANDS, BLACK SABBATH (R.I.P) , Scott Gorham of THIN LIZZY fame and the almost totally impeccable voice of Max Bacon (BRONZ, GTR). Third time around, 1991, “Phenomena III – Inner Visions”, there were further changes, but still Mel gathered the likes of Brian May (QUEEN), Keith Murrell (AIRRACE, MAMA´S BOYS), and Scott Gorham returned. In 2006 the project was brought back to life. Glenn Hughes returned, but the rest were new but hardly inexperienced, and included Tony Martin, ex. BLACK SABBATH. It seems the project got new lease cause in 2010 “Blind Faith” appeared, this time with new blood like Rob Moratti (ex SAGA) and Terry Brock of STRANGEWAYS. So now it´s time for number five, this time around there has been injected a host of Swedish musicians. Can the idea hold for so many influences and musicians?
Opener “Smash It Up” boasts SHY starlet Lee Small, who featured on “Psycho Fantasy” back in 2006. Guitarist Magnus Karlsson is a rising Swede and all seems well, but there will be even classier moments. Toby “Pride of Lions” Hitchcock barely escapes “Reality”, which, to me, is too close to the poppier third installment for comfort. The same overly lightweight surprise comes from Ralf Scheepers of all people. The ending of “Dancing Days” sung by Niklas Swedentorp, backed by COLDSPELL has a more Swedish ring to it, maybe too much for an English project? And the gospel choir spiced up final track “Stand Up for Love” spearheaded by Chris Antblad, a Swedish AOR personality and multi-instrumentalist, is not bad but feels slightly off the point here. But fear not, the likes of James Christian, slightly doctored in the studio perhaps, Lee Small (again), and Mike DiMeo (RIOT, ex. MASTERPLAN) sure raises everybody´s blood pressure with their efforts. The style is mostly in the vein of the gentler but still excellent second installment. We all know that the winner takes it all, and so does Terry Brock! Eight track “Fighter” has a distinct ring of the heyday of PHENOMENA, paired with the typical action movie score that lifted so many careers back then. That song alone is enough reason to buy this album. But all in all, the mark 4/5 is barely reached, and next time around I hope for a more unison effort with clear British roots.
Smash It Up
Stand Up for Love