An extraordinarily professional-sounding release, the second album from Swedish artist Phanatos combines the evocative nature of soundtrack music with the overwrought melancholy of neo-classical goth. While track titles like "The Drowning and Re-Emergence of a Lovelorn Heart" are alone enough to convey a sense of melodrama that in lesser hands could devolve into clownishness, Phanatos executes things with just enough subtlety to keep things sorrowful but not soppy. The aforementioned track, for example, features both male and female vocals in the foreground and distant hints of Gregorian chant in the background. Though the accompanying piano and harp are clear enough to make out the melody, the track is suffused with just enough fogginess to transport the listener into moodily mystic spaces. "Phantasm of Reality," despite its philosophical title, is the album's most sentimental offering, but the sweetly sad pianos evoke real emotion, as do the gentle flutes of "Goddess." "Voyage (Quest for the Shore of Afrodite)" is gloriously cinematic, with huge washes of synthesized strings gradually giving way to more intimate arrangements of harp and drum, then eventually delicate pianos. "Life Elusive, Death Intrusive" is likewise very much a soundtrack piece, full of cinematic string and woodwind patches. "Awe and Woe" even incorporates a hint of the exotic, its trilling flutes adding an Oriental undercurrent to the majestic orchestral sweeps. While the preponderance of synthesized harps, strings and pianos could have easily led this album astray, Phanatos neatly dodges the sort of over-produced tackiness often associated with this kind of music. One can only imagine what Phanatos could achieve with an orchestra of live musicians.
Visit www.phanatos.com for more information about this release.
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