Two things I know about Greece: awesome doner kebabs (otherwise known as gyros) and crap economy. As of this week, I’m adding a third factoid: home of the power trio Phase Reverse. The self-titled album from Phase Reverse was originally released in 2009 but was only available in Greek and online via Amazon. In late 2011, Aural Music re-released the album, which is now widely available today.
Phase Reverse is heavy rock band out of Athens, Greece. I had no idea there was even a genre called ‘heavy rock’ until my itunes told me. I mean, there’s heavy metal and hard rock, but heavy rock? How about hard metal? Anywho, heavy rock seems befitting. Phase Reverse isn’t consistently heavy enough to be metal, but they’re too aggressive to be just plain ol’ rock. So, yeah, heavy rock does it.
Since we’re on the topic of classification, I’ve seen descriptions of Phase Reverse as southern rock. As the token American reviewer for CackBlabbath, and one who has lived half of his life in the southern United States, I’m pretty firm on the notion that Phase Reverse is not a southern rock band. Not a ZZ Top, not a Molly Hatchet, not a Lynyrd Skynyrd. This isn’t a criticism, just a fact. Some of their songs are slow and ponderous, which might lead listeners to guess the band is taking a stab at some kind of heavy country blues thing, but, no, those slow ponderous songs are that, slow and ponderous, not southern rock.
Like so many power trios, the front man, Anastasios (Tas) Ioannidis, doubles on bass and vocals. I think it was Dee Snider who said a lot of bassists write lyrics because they have so much time on their hands. Under that theory, I guess they have time to sing as well. At any rate, Tas has a gravelly, raw sound—sometimes recalling Lemmy, sometimes Cornell, but distinctly his own. John (Chief) Stergiou is on guitar. He does some incredible work and is a confident riff master. I wouldn’t say Alexandros (Alex) Alexiou is a standout drummer, but he does provide a solid backbone. Hard rocking tracks like “Cross to Bear” and “Road Fever” owe their drive to his drum work.
Phase Reverse has a down home, gritty perspective on life. Considering the state of the Greek economy, that perspective seems right. Lines like
“The years gone by been rough it’s true
wondering how we made it through
been to hell and back”
from “I Got Your Back” make me think how difficult life must be in Greece. Austerity measures come to mind when I hear Tas’s raspy voice grinding out, “So blinded by the greed / Not guided by the need” (“Death Ride”). For me, labels and genres aside, that’s what’s really interesting about this band. Through their music they are providing a living chronicle of the struggles of a nation. I can’t think of a richer, nobler tradition for a band to follow, and Phase Reverse does it well.
If you’re not up to spending ten Euro’s on a CD, but are looking for one or two tracks to download, try “Cross to Bear”, “I Go Your Back”, or “Road Fever”. That’ll give you a good taste and may bring you back for more.