PHANTASMA is a project sprung from the collective energy of Georg Neuhauser (Serenity), Oliver Philipps (Everon) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain). The release features memorable songs and intense arrangements centered around included novella ‘The Deviant Hearts’. Add to that a notable cast of guest musicians and haunting visuals, and you get a pretty good idea of what to expect when picking up the record, which will see its release in November this year.
PHANTASMA was born from the longstanding ambition to create a story driven concept record of Georg Neuhauser, vocal force behind Tirolian symphonic metallers SERENITY. Seeing that the musical-esque approach of this project and the many vocalists it would require to pull it off would not fit the format of his main band, he set out on a different path, inspired in his songwriting by those records that sparked his own wonderlust. He found his partner in crime with multi-instrumentalist composer, producer and vocalist Oliver Philipps (EVERON), who gladly embarked on this new mission that allowed him to reconnect with being a musician in the first place, as a welcome change from working for other bands, which he has done extensively over the years, providing the rich sound connoisseurs of the genre have come to expect from him. As Oliver worked with Delain since their debuting record, a request at Charlotte’s address was made to complete the dynamic trio of PHANTASMA.
To introduce Charlotte Wessels to any connoisseur of symphonic metal would be like carrying coals to Newcastle – she is, after all, since 2005 the vocal figurehead of Dutch grandees DELAIN, who celebrated a spectacular debut with Napalm Records in 2014 with their latest and fourth album “The Human Contradiction”. It is therefore not only surprising, but also gratifying that Charlotte now even found some leisure time, to lend not only her voice to PHANTASMA but also her debut novella that was written especially for the project. ‘The Deviant Hearts’ is the title which you can see as the thematic thread, a silk fiber with which she sensitively weaves the equally comforting and grief stricken story included with the album.
Giving a face to several characters in the story are noted guest vocalists Tom Englund (EVERGREY), who performs on tracks such as “Enter Dreamscape” and “The Deviant Hearts”. Cloe Lowery (Transsiberian Orchestra) shines on the heart-wrenching ballad “Try” alongside Dennis Schunke (VAN CANTO) who can be heard also on “Carry Me Home”. Georg, Oliver, and Charlotte themselves finish the vocal palette while the sound is completed by Jason Gianni (Daredevil Squadron/ Neal Morse Band/ Transsiberian Orchestra) on drums, Randy George (Neal Morse Band/Ajalon) on bass and Tom Buchberger (ex-Serenity) guesting two songs on guitar. Milan-based artist Marco Mazzoni provides the haunting cover art and illustrations to the story, creating an eerie visual world with his elaborate style.
All in all, whether you opt for the limited earbook that includes the the story on audiobook, or the exclusive 100 page mediabook, or the jewelcase; PHANTASMA’s ‘The Deviant Hearts’ will have its listeners transported to another place, and work its’ way into their hearts, for sure.