Review Summary: One of early heavy metal’s greatest triumphs.
Another day, another underrated classic rock band. The band of the day is UFO, an influential early heavy metal/hard rock band. Formed in 1969, coming out around the time the great Black Sabbath started. Whereas Sabbath took a doomy, dark, depressive approach to their music, UFO infused their music with the party spirit of rock n’ roll, but with more aggression and speed than most bands of the time. Think of The Scorpions, and you’re on the right track. Another reason to compare UFO to The Scorpions is that they shared a guitarist, Michael Schenker, who joined UFO on this album. UFO is:
Phil Mogg- Vocals
Andy Parker- Drums
Michael Schenker- Guitar
Pete Way- Bass
And UFO is launched into the outer atmosphere with the inclusion of Michael Schenker. Before, they were kinda spacey, a little bit blues, but here, on Phenomenon, they are pure heavy metal. Michael Schenker’s guitar work really helps UFO, with some great melodies, and these really help turn some of these songs into hits. Listen to “Doctor, Doctor” or “Rock Bottom,” can you really imagine these songs being nearly as good if not for the guitar playing? Michael’s melodic guitar work really shines on the closer of the album though, “Queen of the Deep.” This slow paced song has a fantastic guitar solo, which manages to be energizing and disturbing at the same time.
The vocals on this album are hit and miss. Phil Mogg’s delivery is standard most of the time and sometimes stellar, like on the aforementioned “Queen of the Deep” and “Doctor, Doctor.” While he services well, never really detracting from the song, I really wish his delivery shined out more often, like on the tracks I mentioned.
The rhythm section does its job, with Pete Way rumbling along on bass, and Andy Parker hitting the drums in time with the song, and has some fairly cool drum parts along the way. But I really like Pete Way’s bass. It is consistently heard, and sometimes, it is more prominent that the guitar, which is pretty cool. Any fan of great bass lines should check this album out just for Pete Way’s bass playing.
While an overall pretty awesome album, there are just a few rough spots that I wish could have been worked on a little more. Phil Mogg can clearly be a great vocalist, as he displays on several songs. However, most of the time, he just seems like a standard classic hard rock vocalist. Also, the pacing is a little off on the album. It starts out with several hard hitting, pump-your-fist hard rock tracks, but abruptly slows down to “Space Child” with almost no transition. It then goes back into the hard rock arena, but then transitions (well) into the slow closing track “Queen of the Deep.” The transition to “Space Child” is rather jarring, and takes away from an excellent song, and I wish they maybe could have transitioned it a little better.
Overall, this is a great album, worthy of any early heavy metal fans collections. While there are a few problems, the greatness of several songs easily outweighs these few issues.
-Great guitar playing
-Awesome bass lines
-Jarring transition to “Space Child.”
-Some fairly standard vocals on most tracks
Queen of the Deep