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Album Review

Fantasma is a real throwback to a place in time where hard death rock thrashed with style and menace. But Bakersfield, CA's Burning Image aren't some newcomer copycats. Moe Adame, Tony Bonanno, and company were around in the glory days of goth rock. Burning Image partied and split bills with the likes of Christian Death and Sex Gang Children. Their first release in 20 years bears similarity to those acts, but the wailing guitar atmosphere and crunchy dynamics bear striking resemblance to Killing Joke. And that's a very good thing indeed, because while the guys are definitely mimicking Killing Joke's awesome schtick, it's a joy to behold how much they get it right without seeming like a ripoff act. They've got the weird, dark vibes of Jaz Coleman down pat, and the guitars scream and mesh and distort just as hypnotically as those of Geordie Walker's Gibson. It's probably good that Burning Image's vocals sound more like Jello Biafra than Coleman, because it takes their music even a step further away from being derivative. The crew got back together inspired by the "gloom and doom of wartime and global economic meltdown" to offer "10 songs birthed in this new world of pain." And they fulfill their mission and then some. Tribal drums, jagged guitars, and menacing hum inform every track. Walls of guitar noises waft in the air; rhythms start and stop and waft in on themselves. Only the final track, a Spanish-language version of "Duende," feels frivolous. Otherwise, the immense artful guitar squall of Fantasma is must-listen material for fans of death or goth rock or whatever a listener wants to call it. Killing Joke fans in particular should be seeking this out post-haste, while hoping that Burning Image don't wait another 20 years to release their next album.

Fantasma, Burning Image
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