Grace & Tony – ‘Phantasmagoric’ Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

Here I was thinking the term “Southern Gothic” was only to describe Literature. I never really had the vision or idea of knowing just what it would sound like. Well that all changed when I listened to Phantasmagoric. It’s an album characterized by dancing melodies and dark novel influences. Even the album name hints at the music’s ambiguity, letting us know that looks can be deceiving; just like a folk band can play with unnerving melodies in a classical manner. It’s all blended together by Grace & Tony in an oddly romantic fashion. The classical sound that overcoats murder seems to make it only more daunting. There is something about death that is so beautiful. 

‘Invitation To An Autopsy’ is a track name that bleeds out a creepy vibe. As the wound gets deeper the music struts without care with a calming folk presence. I imagine this song as a monologue from a killer, showing the audience just how devilish she is, backed by a haunting voice that helps the souls of the taken ascend. Grace’s vocal range is even more astounding, holding a note for 18 seconds as she rises over the rest of the band. ‘Adam Of Labour’ has clashes of strings weaving an orchestral blanket of heartbreak. ‘072713’ is a track that burns through that blanket with it’s constructed hope and slow paced coos. (Listen to the track here!)

‘The Marsten Prologue’ is characterized by a pulsating string section that most metalcore bands want to achieve with their breakdowns. It’s textured along with eerie instruments scraping along like nails on a chalkboard. ‘The 1’ has a beautiful melody augmented by a minor key that keeps it from orchestrating into a soft ballad and more like a murderous symphony. ‘The 2’ is more like a dance anthem, with two corpses waltzing in elegance between the great rhythm section. ‘A Fever on the Cthulu Queen’ is a spastic piece marked by instruments arpeggiating around the drum kit. If drowning was embodied by a piece of music this might be it, as charming as that sounds. Every instrument is almost in a struggle to find space to let the melody breathe, but constantly keeps being interrupted by bashing chords or swift progression changes. 

Closing song ‘This Is It…’ spends the beginning swelling into a vulnerable confession before leaving everything behind with statements such as, “So here we go and you will see, I’ve got so many friends I’m sure of it, someone will take me in. They’ll realize It’s not my fault so many things that I could blame, genetics, people, places, circumstances…you. I’m sure my name is still good somewhere.” That’s what else is notable, the lyrics are extremely biting. Here we find a relationship marked by the pain of each other in their life. It’s appropriate for a song that swallows a heart whole and spits it back up in shambles.

Phantasmagoric is marked by it’s individuality. I have not heard a record that combines literary elements as ominous as the Southern Gothic with pseudo-classical pieces of old. If this album was scored for a movie there is no doubt in my mind the film would be shot in that creepy amber texture, with the middle of nowhere taking us into it’s arms and showing us what really happens in the dark. Grace & Tony have executed a fun and original album to lose your head with, just make sure it stays attached through all 40 minutes. 

Score: 8.5/10

Phantasmagoric is out on September 25th.