In the realm of Teutonic melodic hard rock, few names other than the Scorpions carry as much weight as Claus Lessmann, lead vocalist with Bonfire during that band’s glory years, and Michael Voss, guitarist of Mad Max, Casanova, Demon Drive and Silver.
Lessmann and Voss pooled forces in 2015, the same year Claus exited Bonfire. Featuring ex-Scorp Francis Buchholz on bass, the first Phantom 5 album suffered for comparisons to Bonfire and lacked consistency, though it did enough to suggest the partnership could yet ignite.
This time, with Buchholz gone (Voss deputises on bass, in addition to manning the desk), Phantom 5 have taken huge steps towards fulfilling their potential. Play II Win isn’t perfect, but there’s more of a band chemistry and the music’s direction is better defined. The likes of Crossfire, Play To Win, Had Enuff and Baptise pack weighty right hooks, but once again, things wane a smidgen at the death. Still, for the most part, their choruses leave a satisfying aftertaste.