As you know, Seven Sisters have a place of honour in the Epic Metal Blog Hall of Fame. If you are wondering why this is so, you should simply read our detailed discography check. Just last year I gave Shadow of a Fallen Star Pt. I full marks – and I would still do so now. It is all the more noteworthy that Kyle McNeill is once again spoiling the ears of his fans with brilliant material – this time in the form of his solo project Phantom Spell.
With Immortal’s Requiem, the Brit ventures into classic prog rock and hard rock realms, which at the same time represents an exciting journey back in time to the glorious 70s. If you don’t know much about these genres but like Seven Sisters, you won’t go wrong here, as Kyle’s singing and guitar playing inevitably remind you of his regular band.
The opening title track already leaves me speechless: Kyle’s unmistakable voice has rarely been used to such wonderful effect as in this short, intense number, which is a magnificent prelude to the following “Dawn of Mind“. Here my speechlessness intensifies (does that actually make sense?), as the protagonist serves up vocal lines and guitar melodies to die for, which in terms of beauty outshine anything that has been released this year. ANYTHING! The eight and a half minutes fly by thanks to the multifaceted nature of this composition, where the skilfully interspersed female choirs add an extra goosebump factor. In other words: songwriting on Champions League level!
“Seven Sided Mirror“ not only convinces with a decidedly catchy chorus, but also with wonderful sounding synthesizers that, in combination with Kyle’s guitar magic, remind me how huge music can be. Even though the promo text mentions bands like Kansas and Yes as a reference, I promptly think of Rainbow in this song, at least as an old Dio disciple. But, and this is the crucial point, Immortal’s Requiem nevertheless sounds completely unique at all times.
By “Up the Tower“, the fourth song, I am already completely happy as a listener and enjoy every minute that this album has to offer – even if this tune is, in my opinion, the most unspectacular on the first few listens. The latter cannot be said about the following instrumental “Black Spire Curse“, because it has a great arc of tension and really strong, rocking riffs. For all I care, the number could have been twice as long!
You can already guess that I will give a buy recommendation at the end of this review. However, I haven’t written a word about Kyle’s masterpiece yet: “Blood Becomes Sand“! My attempt not to sound too pathetic will fail grandiosely, but frankly I don’t care. This atmospheric, majestic song has everything, really everything, that I love about MUSIC. Kyle sings so soulfully that once again I get goosebumps after goosebumps. This lad is – I already wrote it once – by far the best singer of his generation! But that’s not all: countless terrific riffs and solos follow that take my breath away. Here every note comes from the heart, here an artist opens his soul to connect with those who are willing to engage with him. “Blood Becomes Sand“ is a monument – and almost certainly my song of the year.
Basically, the album consequently ends at this point. But Kyle still has two bouncers in the form of bonus tracks: The Rory Gallagher cover “Moonchild“ deserves to be called awesome – a perfect bow to the Irish blues rock legend who died much too early. Immortal’s Requiem ends with an alternative version of the first musical sign of life that Phantom Spell gave last year: “Keep On Running“ once again bundles all the strengths that I listed in this review.
Finally, the fantastic production of this debut is worth mentioning: Kyle has also done a superb job on this level in his Wizard Tower Studios – there is no better way to stage such music, which is a contrast to soulless plastic stuff in every respect. The same goes for the artwork, for which Jack Welch is responsible – as he has been several times before with Seven Sisters.
Conclusion: Kyle McNeill is an artist who seems to be bursting with skill and creativity. Immortal’s Requiem is a precious gift for all those who do not consume music but live it. Although we are essentially dealing with a perfect album here, I am sure that Phantom Spell‘s journey will take us to even higher peaks in the future. May Kyle get the recognition he deserves! My hat is off to him.