Black Phantom – Zero Hour Is Now
Label: Punishment 18 Records
Although I prefer physical releases, when the bands send even a digital album copy, actually full promo material, which means I don’t have to spend hours and hours searching online for an album cover, band pics or videos, lyrics, than the band has my full attention. One of those, I have to admit, rare bands, is Italian Black Phantom. When I saw their package, I just left all I was writing till that moment and said to myself: “Those guys deserve to be on the top of my priorities!”
The first impression: Iron Maiden post Brave New world era influenced band. Or even better: Bruce Dickinson’s solo career influenced album with accent on “Accident of Birth” and “The Chemical Wedding”. Manuel Malini’s vocal is something close to Dickinson’s and at some point pulls to the Tobias Sammet’s and Michael Kiske’s style. The album flows very well, it has the great melodies, outstanding solos, great bass lines, hypnotizing galloping rhythm, memorable choruses… Who needs more?
Since the band is a revelation for me, and I think our readers are not familiar with their opus, I feel I need to write some biography facts. The band comes from Milan (I miss this city so much). It started as a project of Andrea Tito, who has been in music business for almost 25 years as a bass guitar player and the main composer and songwriter of Mesmerize. By now, Black Phantom released one album, “Better Beware” (2017). the second, “Zero Hour Is Now” was released earlier this year. In the meantime, 2019 brought “Cosmic Rayz: An Underground Tribute To Gamma Ray”.
“Zero Hour Is Now” contains nine songs and already the first song, “Redemption”, clearly goes to Dickinson’s “Road To Hell” direction. The great starter and lead to, I have to write, if I didn’t already, revelation band and album for me. From Dickinson to Iron Maiden, the next song “Hordes Of Destruction” could easily be a bonus track on Maiden’s “Brave New World”. Chorus: Zero hour is now; Here they come, the hordes of destruction! with the clear message, easily occupies your mind weather you are gonna sing it or if you are so talented for singing that everyone runs away from you (as is my case), than simply whistle as Manuel Malini does in the grand finale.
At first, when I red track list, the song “Schattenjager” (Shadow Hunter) caught my attention. I was curious to see if Italians will be able to write lyrics in German and how that might sound. But, only German track title remained and British influenced sound. For now. What I have always liked in Heavy Metal is to hear bass clearly, and we have a plenty of it here. The chorus has a great fluent catchy melody, so band your head and scream: “Schattenjager!”
Here is another song where I have to wonder if Dickinson is the special guest star on this album or what? “The Road” is semi ballad (no idea why I wrote semi), maybe because of really strong galloping guitar rhythm that makes you bang your head, and there are rare ballads that allow you to do that. The song is around eight minutes long, which is enough that each band member can show their skills.
Roars, banging drums and galloping riffs are leading us to the “Aboard The Rattling Ark”, and here I will stop writing about the band influences cause if it isn’t obvious by now, it never will be! And somehow, these days, or better to say months, more than ever, lyrics like this stuck to my brain: Will the mankind ever learn or We just buy time, we fool ourselves; Denying we are already dead.
If I wrote we already have a semi ballad on this album, than”Either You Or Me” is a true one.
After the ballad, something has to shake your bones and that, for sure will be “Begone!” Besides strong rhythm, this song also has very infectious “call to battle” refrain.
Strange “Hands Of Time” overture scared me at the moment, cause I have thought now the album goes to a totally different direction that I am not gonna like. Wrong! Maybe the most dynamic, most powerful song will rock your world! Beware the hands of time!
And in the end, oh joy, oh joy! “Schattenjager”, German version! This is what I was waiting for, so, my friends, I am leaving you now, cause I can’t sit still. Tschüss!
In the sea of metal bands, after a long time, I have finally found something that caught my attention! Last time I was this thrilled when I discovered Visigoth. Epic! Timeless! Priceless!