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Album Review : The Gems: Phoenix

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Review by Pete Finn for MPM

New Swedish power rock trio The Gems, were formed after vocalist Guernica Mancini, drummer Emlee Johansson and guitarist/bassist Mona “Demona” Lindgren departed Thundermother in February 2023.

Inspired by legends such as Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden, they started writing and touring shortly afterwards, receiving positive reviews from the start. Their first single ‘Like a Phoenix’ was released in June 2023. The single immediately reached No. 2 on the German Rock Radio Airplay Charts, and spiked the interest of rock fans straight away.

‘Phoenix’ will be their debut album, set to be released on 26th January 2024, via Napalm Records. The track listing names 16-tracks with a combined running time of just over 45-minutes, although a few of the tracks are listed with an ‘Interlude’ postscript, and there is an acoustic version of a track too.

The album opens with the short ‘Aurora – Interlude’, a steady drum-beat accompanied by chanted lyrics, the lyrics explaining the formation of the band. The riffs start and it’s straight into ‘Queens’, quick and punchy vocals co-existing with matching beats and riffs. Lindgren’s guitars providing a spellbinding mix of sounds. The bluesy vocal of Mancini mixes cleverly with the high-energy rock ‘n’ roll tempo. A blast of an opener.

The rapping vocal of ‘Send Me To The Wolves’, blends well with Johansson’s powerful beats. Lindgren’s guitar is tuned down at the dirty end, the vocal is strong and emotional, it takes you back to the hard rock sounds of the 70’s.

‘Domino’ has “play me live, and play me loud” all over it. It’s raw, heavy and full of energy. Lindgren is pounding the bass strings. Mancini’s lyrics are quick and angry, fist pump inducing. Johansson’s hard beats propel the track forward at a rapid rate. It’s impossible not to be drawn in and carried along.

The rapid and punky ‘Silver Tongue’ is next. Short bursts of guitar riffs mixed with a ferocious drum beat are at the heart of this track. It’s full of angst, the guitar hooks drag you over the coals, it’s a hard-edged rocker of a track.

‘Undiscovered Paths’ is packed with heavy riffs and emotion. The tempo changes and distorted guitar combine with vocal harmonies effortlessly. Mancini is demonstrating a great vocal range. The old skool 80’s vibe will bring a smile to your face and pleasure to your ears.

Another short combining piece is ‘Maria’s Song – Interlude’, an instrumental of orchestral violin strings, which leads us into ‘Ease Your Pain’, Mancini’s vocal is accompanied by acoustic strumming. The lyrics strong and passionate. The band join in, keeping a respectful tempo, the track builds to a full-strength power ballad.

‘Running’ by name, and running by nature, fast beats and fast lyrics. Johansson fires a salvo of drums and Lindgren adds soaring guitar riffs. Mancini’s vocal keeps the pace high as she screams the words. A quick, LA Rock style track, and good fun.

‘Renaissance – Interlude’ is the short prequel to ‘Like A Phoenix’, this was the bands first single, it’s about the rebirth of the band. A classic 80’s rocker, quick vocals and drum-beats, crushing riffs and squealing guitars. A real banger, a superb showcase of the bands talents and intentions.

The Heavy Metal influences are apparent in ‘P.S.Y.C.H.O’, with the Priest-esque riff. The tempo is quick and vocals direct. Lindgren has the bass shaking everything in it’s path, she adds a clever layer of charging guitars over the top. The melodies and hooks grab the attention and you’re nodding along straight away.

‘Kiss it Goodbye’ is slower and grungy, but it still packs a hard punch. The reverberating bass provides a backdrop for chugging riffs and chanted harmonies. This is a real fist pumper of a track. ‘Force Of Nature’ is next, a charging pace, rapid riffs and quick-fire lyrics add to the tempo. You are swept along by a wave of guitars and crashing drums.

Depending how you look at it, ‘Fruits Of My Labor’ is either the penultimate track of the album or the final one, if you don’t count the following acoustic remix of ‘Like A Phoenix’. It’s slower and moody, a song sung with the heart on the sleeve. It’s tempo, rises and falls with the emotion, matched by the wonderful guitar work of Lindgren. These ladies are giving everything.

‘Like A Phoenix (Acoustic Version)’ has a country vibe, gentle strumming on the acoustic guitar by producer Johan Randén and a steady beat. Mancini is in control as she fires out a strong vocal. This smooth and calming track brings the album to a close.

‘Phoenix’ is a strong, powerful and intelligent album put together by a band who know what they want, and how to deliver it. The result is an album that the band can be proud of, and anyone who enjoys the legendary heavy sounds of the 80’s, infused with the great sounds of today, should be adding The Gems’ ‘Phoenix’ to their collection.

Phoenix Tracklisting:
1    Aurora – Interlude    
2    Queens    
3    Send Me To The Wolves    
4    Domino    
5    Silver Tongue    
6    Undiscovered Paths    
7    Maria’s Song – Interlude    
8    Ease Your Pain    
9    Running    
10    Renaissance – Interlude    
11    Like A Phoenix    
12    P.S.Y.C.H.O    
13    Kiss it Goodbye    
14    Force Of Nature    
15    Fruits Of My Labor    
16    Like A Phoenix    (Acoustic Version)

Guernica Mancini – Vocals
Mona “Demona” Lindgren – Guitar, Bass
Emlee Johansson – Drums

THE GEMS online:

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