Phenomena – Awakening


Review by Woody

This is one of those albums filled to the brim with guest musicians from the world of melodic rock. The band itself was the brainchild of Cannock born Tom Galley way back in the 80’s and Phenomena completed a concept album trilogy ( Nice to see Geoff at The Tackeroo get a mention in the album credits, I presume Tom still lives up the road from me!). This is actually the band’s third album since 2006 for Escape Music, and it features all songs written by Tom and various co-writers including Black Country hero Glenn Hughes!

So performing the songs we have *deep breath*, Lee Small, Toby Hitchcock, Rob Moratti, James Christian, Ralf Scheepers, Mike DiMeo, Terry Brock, Niklas Swedentorp and Chris Antblad on Vocals. Martin Kronlund, Tom Harlan, Magnus Karlsson, Mike Slamer, Tommy Denander, Christian Wolff, Steve Newman and Carl Anthony Wright on guitars. Fredrik Bergh and Per Aronson-Andersson on Keyboards. Henrik Thomsen and Mat Sinner on Bass and Drums by Imre Daun!

Awakening has a very British melodic rock feel to it, harder, edgier and with blues overtones. It’s a pretty solid album and sometimes albums with so many musicians involved can create very hit and miss affair. Here I think the quality of Tom’s songs shine through. Whoever decided which singer was to sing which track did a great job, every vocalist seems ideal for the sound and style of their track, and either that or the all did a bang on job of making the songs their own!

‘Smash It Up’ features a stellar vocal performance from the Black Country’s Lee Small and his blues tinged voice is perfect for this song. I love Fred Bergh’s (Street Talk) keyboard contribution to this song which compliments Karlsson’s big chunky riff. A thunderous rocking beast of a song with a shout it out loud chorus. ‘Reality’ is a pounding rocker with a driving riff which Hitchcock’s vocals sit along perfectly with. It has a smooth atmospheric chorus which offsets the songs feel a little bit but it works. Hats off to Brummie guitar legend Mike Slamer for giving us the best solo on the entire album, good stuff! ‘Homeland’ is a song Tom wrote with Glenn Hughes and is a stand out track for me! I love the lyrics and it’s a song with a beautiful lilt to it and a wonderful instant melodic chorus. I can imagine Hughesy singing this track, but Moratti does a fantastic job and his voice is well suited to bring out the best in the song!

‘Going Away’ features James Christian (House Of Lords) and although there is some nice vocal and guitar riff touches it’s a song that fails to make impact. ‘Gotta Move’ is a high energy rocker with a metallic riff so no surprise this features Ralf Scheepers (Primal Scream) on vocals. Another track that features keyboard wizard Bergh’s wonderfully addictive keys, top draw tinkling! It’s a good song but really needs a more in your face chorus to have a real impact. ‘How Long’ see’s Lee Small back it’s a very bluesy mid tempo rocker with a stellar soulful performance from Lee, quite a powerful track.

‘Shake’ another mid-tempo rocker with a chugging riff, a very bluesy song with metallic tinges especially on the chorus. Another stand out track is ‘Fighter’ which features the ever popular Terry Brock on vocals and personal favourite Steve Newman on guitars! This song has a wonderfully rousing chorus and Brock sounds amazing. It’s a highly melodic, hard edged rocker and Newman does a top notch job of giving the guitar riffs the needed punch to make the song shine.

‘Dancing Days’ is performed by fellow label mates Coldspell and the track is very much them. The track doesn’t really jump out but it does have a good drive to it. ‘If You Believe’ is an almost pure AOR track and is perfect for Chris Antblad who sings this one. It’s a beautiful song overflowing with lush harmonies and a delightful chorus; I love the positive atmosphere this song evokes!

Awakening is definitely an album worth checking out if you like your melodic rock with a bit of a bite and an air of the blues. Some outstanding musicianship coupled with some killer tracks so you can’t go wrong giving this one a spin!

Rated 7 out of 10