Amoriello – Phantom Sounds (Shredguy Records)Wednesday, 23rd March 2022
Thomas Amoriello is a guitarist, producer, and songwriter who under his namesake assembles metal talent from across the globe to execute this latest set of material Phantom Sounds. Under the neoclassical hard rock/metal banner, listeners can expect a comfortable diversity that drives from a solid mechanics perspective first and foremost – eschewing necessarily technical prowess to savor memorable hooks, melodies, and riffs.
The epic nature to many arrangements along with keyboard / organ flourishes evident right away for “Villain” (featuring Avantasia/Firewind singer Herbie Langhans) gives off a Tony Martin-period Black Sabbath vibe, Thomas methodical in his tasteful, slower lead breaks, Herbie hitting some bird-call screams that send shivers. The extra attention to narrative/crowd sequences provides additional dynamic ambiance – keyboard/guitar neoclassical twists for the power metal offering “Unruly King” showcases a fierce, almost Riot-like performance from Jim Rutherford on vocals, while the calmer, outer universe nature to “Medieval Warrior” contains that European-like finesse and comfort where Piet Sielck can convey his lyrics and voice in that unmistakable gritty, metal to the bone manner. Calmer, acoustic strains and distant keyboards/ operatic vocal accents make “Candelabra” an ideal concluding number at under two minutes. The main bass, keyboard, and drum duties possess the right balance between supporting Thomas’ axe play while also taking on occasional spotlight glory – “Funhouse Opus 13” ideal for those who love that Shrapnel / instrumental action full of exciting breaks and transitions.
Some may have a bit of an issue with specific tones and sounds present (the drum sound, especially in the snare department, has a bit more of a digital sprinkler nature versus a sturdy snap), but the quality of musicianship, songwriting, and performances cannot be taken for granted. With Phantom Sounds, Amoriello continues to excel at taking influences from the 70’s and 80’s to put them into a heavy, progressive metal context that is highly engaging for most listeners to digest and enjoy.