Album review: PHIL VINCENT – Stigmata


Bandcamp [Release date 26.05.21]

Solo album number 23 from Phil Vincent and like last year’s ‘Yesterday, Tomorrow & Today’ he is joined by guitarist Vince O’Regan and Janne Stark guests on ‘So Tired’, with Jacob Hansen once again in the producer’s chair. One new name in the musical credits is drummer Max Piccolo.

Phil Vincent has delved into his main musical inspirations for this album, from the progressive leanings of ‘My Darkness’, through to the melodic rocker ‘Time’ and ‘My Life’, which is a tad more guitar led and metal in sound.

‘Hideaway’ is another good, solid rocker and would be a single, if such things had a chance to chart. The ballad ‘So Tired’ features a tasty guitar solo from Janne Stark.

The choice of cover of the Beatles classic ‘Eleanor Rigby’ is a good one, as not only are they the main musical heroes of Phil Vincent, but he creates an intriguing take on it. Building from a quite keys/vocal intro by the song’s end we’ve gone full kitchen sink and have guitars, drums and keys ensuring he gives the song his own personal stamp.

One of his best releases in recent times (which is no mean feat considering the amount of music he appears and works on!), focussing more on his melodic hard rock side and a little less metal.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

Phil Vincent took the time to update us on what he has planned next and the making of the ‘Stigmata’ album…

‘Stigmata’ is your 23rd solo album! What keeps you motivated composition wise?

Just look around Jason. There’s more than enough inspiration to write songs. :)

The new album showcases your more melodic hard rock side of your music. Was this a planned move or one that happened as you wrote and recorded the album?

My solo albums tend to drift toward the more melodic rock. Probably because I write on the piano for most of my solo albums. Occasionally I write on the guitar but the songs initial ideas were created on piano. They have more of a Boston, Foreigner and Styx influence as opposed to TRAGIK, and D’Ercole, which lean in the Judas Priest, Black Sabbath riff-dominated arena.

Once again you are working with Vince O’Regan. What is it that makes your musical partnership such a success do you think?

AVince and I connect on a musical level and he knows what I like and he plays for the song. He’s an unbelievable guitarist and songwriter in his own rite so he knows what sounds good in the context of the song. He also works very fast, like me. J

Great version of the Beatles classic ‘Eleanor Rigby’ on the album. It has a very poignant chorus given the lockdowns people have been under this past year or so. What made you want to cover this particular song?

That’s the answer to your first question :) Look around and you will see all the lonely people. It was an obvious choice for me. The video also captures the loneliness aspect of the song. It’s such a sad song. I wanted to make a rocking version but keep it as close to the original melody as possible. Jacob Hansen, who mastered the album, told me it was the best cover he’s ever heard so that relieved any doubts I had of putting it on the album.

The Beatles were/are the greatest band in the world so covering any of their vast catalogue is always a challenge because you will never create a better version of the original masterpiece. You’re only trying to make something that’s heard in a different way. In the past, I’ve covered “And I Love Her” and “Oh Darling!” Those are available as digital only singles. Those versions are completely different than the original songs but the melody is very faithful.

Are you tempted at all to revisit your early solo albums to give them a modern production make over? Would your current record label Rock Company possibly look to release a ‘best of’ of your work, both solo and in bands?

I don’t think “Best of” compilations are necessary in today’s Spotify/digital world. Everyone makes their own playlist. I do re-record some of my older songs and put them on various new releases. “Stigmata” includes a song called “My Life”, which was originally released on my solo album “Tragic” back in 2000. If you listen to the lyrics in the chorus, they’re VERY descriptive of today’s events and environment so I couldn’t resist re-recording it. Although I didn’t use any keyboards in this version, and I wrote different verses, “My Life” represents the life of anyone existing in today’s current climate. It’s amazing a song 21 years old could still be relevant today.

We’ve had a D’Ercole album already this year, now this rather good solo album, so what have you got planned musically for the rest of the year?

We’re 4 songs into the next TRAGIK album, which has the working title “Ultima Ratio” which is Latin for “last resort”.

Obviously there’s a darker tone to the Tragik albums whereas the D’Ercole releases are an amalgam of both my solo albums and Tragik. It should be very interesting.

Anything else to add and message for your fans…

This solo album is the first to include drummer Max Piccolo who has been a friend of mine since high school. He’s always been resisting my invitations to record together but when Dirk Phillips told me he wasn’t available I begged Max to help out and I’m so glad he did. I think he added a little fire to the songs :) I hope people enjoy the album and I want to thank you, Jason for all the support. This genre of music can only exist with that kind of support and it’s because of people like you that I exist musically. So thank you from the bottom of my heart :)

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