Escape Music (2012)
Originating in 1983 from the mind of Tom Galley, Phenomena released a series of albums throughout the 80’s and early 90’s featuring some of the best hard rock players in the business- Cozy Powell, Glenn Hughes, Scott Gorham, and Brian May among others appeared on their first three releases. After a 15 year break, the concept stories continued with newer collaborating musicians and we have the sixth release under the Phenomena banner, “Awakening”.
Some of the singers on this 10 song release are the potent melodic vocalists you’ve come to know and love through the years - Lee Small, Toby Hitchcock, Rob Moratti, James Christian, Ralf Scheepers, and Mike Dimeo are the names that strike me as fulfilling Tom’s stories to an ardent, active audience. Put to the task where they excel, Ralf for instance uses his metal strength on the heavier “Gotta Move”, while the more theatrical nature of “Reality” is right up Toby’s upper range zone. Guitarists like Mike Slammer, Tommy Denander, Martin Kronlund, and Steve Newman also get the chance to showcase their range and versatility, depending on the nature of the song. The AOR-ish “Homeland” for instance pulsates with bright electric riffs against the comfortable helium Moratti highs- while “Shake” is a slower, bluesy number with an older Zeppelin/ Whitesnake motif.
A lot of people may grow weary of yet another ‘concept’ album executed by all these professional musicians who record their parts separately in the hope that the final product works. Tom Galley understands that all the great performances don’t mean a hill of beans if you can’t deliver dynamic, active and engaging songwriting- and “Awakening” delivers on all three fronts. If you are a follower of mid-70’s to mid-80’s based European hard rock with a slew of highly motivated musicians giving their all, Phenomena and “Awakening” will not disappoint in the slightest.
Rating: 4.5 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe