Published Dec 01, 2002Black Phantom Crusades is a huge step forward for Red Animal War. Their previous releases have always felt fairly uninspired and generic, and while they havent totally rid themselves of that blandness, this is a glimmer of hope for where the band is headed. Crisply produced and strongly played, the record is actually a fairly intense listen. Admittedly, only about half of the songs really catch fire, with a few Jawbox-tinged rock numbers naturally showing up the songs with a pop-punk soft spot. Lead vocalist Justin Wilson sings a whole lot like Page Hamilton, but whereas the Helmet singers shouting was sometimes too abrasive to really enjoy, Wilson tears at his vocal chords without wearing the listeners tolerance thin. This isnt a record that I can say I wont forget about when its put away, but its good enough that it may make it into the player if ever I stumble across it again.