Phantoms/I Exist – Bad Romance


Bad Romance


Common Bond Records




For Fans Of

No Warning, Sleep, Merauder, Cruel Hand


Two heads are better than one.


87 / 100

Inspiration is a deeply personal experience. For stepbrothers Phantoms and I Exist – despite Metallica, despite Sleep, despite heavy metal, despite blues, despite thug life, despite bongs and despite the rest that concocts their character – there is one influence the two hold the same. The Wet’n Wild theme park is the culprit; ‘Bad Romance’ is the crime. And whilst the details of their slippery experience remains a mystery, what’s certain is the result: this duo-collaboration has catalysed a four-track release that is two quarters heavy, two quarters hard and a whole leap forward towards positive progression.

Let’s get real; with only a pair of songs to each band’s name, there’s not a single riff to lie to waste. Canberra kings, I Exist drag us seatbelts-loose through ‘Terror Canyon’ and Mammoth Falls’, delivering their fair share of gloom-laden sludge and grime. One track in and they’ve stamped boots all over their territory: fast, bluesy, groove-filled chord progressions, heavy down-tempo passages, bass interludes and hallowing solos. Phantoms frontman, Caed Francis breaks up the pummel that is Jake Willoughby’s vocals with his own addition to track one, bringing new noise to the band’s mix. The potion this band has conjured is one of a perfect balance of ingredients; the two tracks spilt before us comprise just the right amount of every element they’ve brought to us in previous times.

Trust me on this one, strap up those goggles and fasten your speedos real tight before entering ‘The Blackhole and Kamikaze’. Resembling the traits of a concrete Pegasus, the double A-Bomb Phantoms drop wears every gene of their father: solid hard, chunky heavy, total muscle and pack full of punch. What we’re dealing with is two, two minute songs that wrench the juice of every second to the last hammer-filled riff. Whilst bearing the torch for Sydney hardcore, pin this group up amidst the wave of Six Feet Under/Reaper/Deathwish Records bands and it’s more clear that the game they play is not entirely and wholly earth-shattering. But what’s completely certain is that Phantoms absolutely know their sound and style and do it mercilessly. Both tracks testify to the cultured, assertive and often complex sound they have characterised themselves with over the last three releases. It’s the marriage between both the elaborate nature of their riffs and the one-of-a-kind build of Francis’ vocals that shine a sparkling beam of light upon this outfit.


There’s no denying that this is both Phantoms and I Exist as we’ve come to know them for the past two years, and it’s in this way that each track could easily have featured on each of their respective, previous albums. Whilst nothing entirely new for either, what’s presented are two satisfying tracks that boast a sound of the most refined and matured quality, culminating in what is some of the best song writing offered by both to this date. Bad Romance‘? Great love.


01.  Terror Canyon
02.  Mammoth Falls
03.  The Blackhole
04.  Kamikaze

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