Dutch band Fantosh started out as a two-man project comprised of Steff and TimQ who toured across a good bit of Europe playing unplugged shows and longing for the intensity of being a fully amplified rock band. In 2014 Leo joined as a bassist turned drummer and the band was complete. Pulling out all the stops, the band began working with Travis Wyrick (POD, Pillar, Nice Lashes) who had encouraged the band to put everything into their performances and pushed them each near to their breaking points in order to get the best performances. The end result is the band’s debut, On the Verge…
Ok, so I admit, I watched the video for “Dirty Stars” first and I was thinking Fantosh was kind of a cross between Europop and someone like Skillet, then I was able to hear the first track “The Bullet”. It does start out similar with some keyboards/sound effects but then this dirty, raucous guitar riff comes in and my first impression is blown. Shouted, gruff vocals do take a bit of the front part of the mix but they work within the context of the song. The guitar riff punctuated by the keyboard accents works very well in this song and now they remind me a bit of Blindside but not to the point that anyone would confuse the two bands.
Ironically, “The End” strikes me as a Linkin Park- type song. Slower, moody, with somewhat agonized sounding vocals during the verses and a gang vocal style chorus. Bits and pieces of the song remind me of bands like Disturbed and others in that radio-friendly hard rock and there may even be a bit of Corey Taylor coming through in the vocals.
So now I’m into “Walk Away” and here again is another catchy riff and melody. Guitars unfortunately go away for the verses sections but do come roaring back to drown out the electronics. Musically, this is not the most complex or difficult to play material, but Fantosh have managed to craft all of the various elements into some really catchy songs. I will say that I’m not the biggest fan of “Dirty Stars” and I find it a bit unfortunate that they chose that song for their first video. In contrast to the preceding songs on the album, “Dirty Stars” relies more on electronica than the guitars they have used so well in the previous songs.
Fortunately, that was short-lived as the guitars come back to take a dominant role again in “My Own Prison”, which inexplicably veers into Nine Inch Nails territory, while “Broken turns into a nearly acoustic ballad, which does seem a bit out of place until you get to “Haven” where there is another of the quiet tracks that just don’t work for me. Adding to those is “Fantouche” which seems to me to jump around a bit too much as if they wanted to mash up several styles into one track. Knowing producer Travis Wyrick’s background, one can hear bits and pieces of those bands in Fantosh and he has a knack for being able to get the most out of bands playing this style of music. The drums hit, the guitars drive and the vocals are quiet or loud as they need to be for these songs, which often jump around in intensity.
On the plus side, the last track ‘Immortal” sees the band returning back to a rollicking guitar-driven, pounding riff that veers off into Trent Reznor territory again with the whispered, distorted vocals and keyboards, but just when you think you have the song figured out, a soaring chorus comes in to drive away the darkness. That is one thing I can certainly appreciate with Fantosh. While I certainly am not a fan of all the songs, when they are good, they are very good…heavy but still approachable for those who are not true metalheads and heavy enough to keep the metalheads entertained.
Written by John Jackson
01 The Bullet
02 The End
03 Walk Away
04 Dirty Stars
05 My Own Prison
08 Losing It
10 Awake World
Steff – Vocals
TimQ – Guitars
Leo – Drums
Record Label: GunMan Records, March 2017
Lyric Video for ‘Dirty Stars’