Phantom Blue

Built to Perform

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Boasting impressive performances and arrangements, Built to Perform could be the most instrumentally accomplished all-female melodic hard rock recording ever. After Phantom Blue caused quite a buzz with their 1989 eponymous debut, this follow-up was delayed years, causing the band to loose all commercial momentum as their '80s style had become a hopeless joke to many in the music industry. Vocalist Gigi Hangach is a near-virtuoso in her demanding genre; a technical master with command of raspy and clean phrases. Michelle Meldrum's guitar work is also first-rate, as her chops compare favorable to the monster guest soloists Marty Freidman and John Norum. Despite punchy production courtesy of Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Loudness), Kim Nielson's drumming comes off a little soft. While distracting, the average rhythm work isn't enough to sink Phantom Blue, but their limited writing abilities just about ruins things. Other than the remarkable "Time to Run," all the instrumental fire is suffocated by listless material. While Phantom Blue's vocal and guitar dexterity is impressive, the weak songwriting on Built to Perform leaves the record appropriate only for listeners deeply into obscure '80s melodic rock.

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