PHANTOM 5 – Play To Win (2017)
Frontiers Music will release the second studio album by PHANTOM 5, “Play To Win“, tomorrow October 13. After the really good self-titled debut album, the brainchild of musician Michael Voss (Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock, Mad Max) and vocalist Claus Lessmann (ex Bonfire) has returned with yet another incredible outing of impeccable German Melodic Hard Rock.
But there’s some news as well: now they have added to music a nice, welcomed AOR touch.
Ex-Scorp Francis Buchholz on bass is gone – Voss deputises on bass, in addition to manning the desk – but the rest remain intact: drummer Axel Kruse wich has Jaded Heart / Mad Max on his resume, while guitarist / keyboardist Robby Boebel’s includes Evidence One, Sanction-X, Talon and Frontline.
“Play To Win” is a perfect showcase for their talents, and draws on the musical styles of all their respective previous bands as well. It’s safe to say that if you like a band that one of the members have played in, you’re going to like this album.
To me it’s the album I’ve wanted from Bonfire in the last few years. This really is German Melodic Hard Rock at its finest here.
My personal highlights include “The Change In You”, “Crossfire”, “Baptised” and the AORish “Read Your Mind”, all of which sound like they belong on a particularly good album by Scorpions or Bonfire, complete as they are with great riffs and killer hooks.
Seriously, these choruses are going to stick in your head for a long time.
“Do You Believe In Love” and “Phantom Child” are also very worthy of a mention here, as is the album closer “Reach Out”, which is a fine ballad to end the album with. All three of those songs change the pace and tempo of the album in different ways, and it benefits from that variety as it allows the band to show different sides of their talent.
“Phantom Child” in particular allows the rhythm section of the band to shine, while midtempo ”Reach Out”, along with the more power ballad styled “Do You Believe In Love” allow Lessman’s voice come to the fore.
From the first bites of “Play To Win” you can tell gone Phantom 5 have taken huge steps forward in terms of sound, stronger songwriting and catchiness.
It represents classic German melodic hard rock at its absolute finest, with Claus Lessmann on top form and Voss as conductor orchestrating everything with clinical precision.
I really liked the more prominent keyboard presence than on the previous album, creating an AORish atmosphere and providing to the album with an ’80s flavor.
01 – The Change in You
02 – Crossfire
03 – Baptised
04 – Read Your Mind
05 – Play to Win
06 – Child Soldiers
07 – Do You Believe in Love
08 – Phantom Child
09 – Had Enuff
10 – Shadows Dance
11 – Reach Out
Claus Lessmann – Lead Vocals
Michael Voss – Guitars, Bass and Backing Vocals
Robert Boebel – Guitars and Keyboards
Axel Kruse – Drums & Xplosions