Phantasmal is an American blackened thrash metal band whose first demo just came out in late 2014. On “The Reaper’s Forge”, the band shows incredible attention to detail in terms of what makes this style of music so great. Sure, at its core, the demo is filled with relatively standard early Destruction and Witchtrap sounding riffs, but the release also shows some unique elements. Even the opening of the title track, for example, shows homage to the NWOBHM with its harmonized guitars. Though this section does not last long, and is something seen very minimally on the demo, it shows how Phantasmal is willing to spice up its sound a little bit by doing something different. The song later goes on to tastefully incorporate blast beats in a way that wouldn’t alienate anyone stuck in the 80s before blast beats became commonplace. Additionally, on “Queen Nightshade”, Phantasmal’s singer throws in an awesome high-pitched shriek. Again, this is the only place you’ll hear this on the demo, but it works magnificently.
Of course, the majority of this demo is witching black/thrash the way it was meant to sound. The riffs are pretty simplistic, but they’re energetic and exciting. Even on “The Eternal Campaign”, where the tempo is occasionally more plodding, these riffs manage to be enticing. The vocal approach on this demo doesn’t throw in many surprises. The singer is understandable, and throws some pretty disgusting venom into his bark. From a production standpoint, “The Reaper’s Forge” hits the mark perfectly. It isn’t crystal clear production, but nobody is fighting to be heard against one another, and everything is easy to understand. For this style of music, there is no better way to go about it.
On the whole, “The Reaper’s Forge” is a very satisfying release. The only real complaint you can hold against it is that it’s too short. Nevertheless, it is clear that Phantasmal is a band to watch, as they will almost assuredly blow everyone away with any future work. The key to their sound is an excellent execution of black/thrash with hints of other outside influences to keep things interesting. For that reason, “The Reaper’s Forge” is highly recommended to all thrash fans.
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4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott