Band: Phantom Fire
Album: Return of the Goat
Label: Edged Circle Productions
Genre: Black Speed Metal
Release Date: April 23rd, 2021
For Fans Of: Motörhead, Venom, Exciter
How much can you learn about a band’s essence in 5 and a half minutes?
Phantom Fire do their damnedest to answer that question on Return of the Goat, a 2-song EP (read: glorified single) intended to whet your appetite for the band’s debut fell-length release, The Bust of Beelzebub, set to drop in September via Edged Circle. The Bergen, Norway-based Phantom Fire is a collection of musicians from the black metal outfit Gaahls Wyrd and the experimental, post rock troop Krakow. Together, they deliver a blackened brew of rock ‘n’ roll with not-so-subtle hints of Motorhead, Venom, and The Misfits.
Return of the Goat’s title track is a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase, black ‘n’ roll ripper. A flurry of tremolo picking and raw, chunky power chords lurch wildly over bass and drums that fit inside a pocket tighter than your skinny jeans. Though the vocals deliver a familiar harsh rasp, they feel far more like “shout it out loud” rock than “sulk in the graveyard” black metal. There’s not much originality here, but what ”Return of the Goat” lacks in innovation, it makes up for 100-fold with rusty, retro firepower that is everything many black metal fans most fear: fun.
Phantom Fire’s second offering, “Mara,” kicks off with thundering drums that are quickly awash in murky, lo-fi black metal vocals, traces of the band’s Gaahl and Gorgoroth DNA. These vocals are dark, they’re mysterious, but they beg the question: Which of these sounds define the essence of this band: the supercharged snarl of “Return of the Goat,” or the dark dinge of “Mara”? With only 2 songs on the EP, it’s hard to identify patterns. Yes, it’s clear the bass is the driving force of this band. Sure, these guys have more chops than a Texas Roadhouse. But at their core, are they blackened speed metallers, or black metallers who put the pedal to the metal after one-too-many whiskeys?
Unfortunately, Return of the Goat leaves you with more questions than answers. It’s rough, it’s wild, but without a third song, it falls short of clearly defining Phantom Fire’s sonic identity. You’ll have to wait for The Bust of Beelzebub for that. In the meantime, add these tracks to your shuffle and enjoy the filthy, diesel-fueled fun!
1. Return of the Goat
Total Playing Time: 5:43