I've been waiting for this one! Seeing the broadcast in '89 is what introduced me to drum corps, and Regiment hooked me immediately.
Spartacus (2008) - I give this one the edge over Defiant Heart because of the story. Defiant Heart generated its GE through music, Spartacus did perhaps the best job ever in DCI in adapting an honest-to-goodness narrative story into a 12 minute show. Past that, the music was incredibly sophisticated - being honest, the brass book was much more technically demanding than Phantom typically does - and they pulled it off with a bang. This year was my first and only live Finals weekend, and one thing that stood out was how they kept cranking the tempos up ever so slightly each show. On the last night it felt like they must be on the edge of it just falling apart, but it never even came close. And yes, the crowd reaction on video - it was that crazy live.
Defiant Heart (1996 2006) - One of the more unconventional - but most effective - music books they've ever done. Not many corps are brave enough to start with the ballad (such as it was), but the payoff was well worth it. The poles in the drum feature were awesome live (less so on video), and of course the closer brought the house down. Not much else I can say about it - just brilliant. And the black on black was a masterstroke.
Harmonic Journey (2003) - yes, yes, yes, Libera's Sanctus and the reprise. But the rest of the show is mega-awesome, too. They managed to make some pretty complex modern pieces work with a very traditional-sounding ballad. Musically, this show had a little bit of everything, and it totally should have been a blueprint for what they could have done moving forward. Honestly, if they're looking for inspiration now, they could do worse than maybe watching this show again.
1989 - scores were <a bit> inflated that Finals, and I don't think it was actually a 98.4, but Phantom did a brilliant job of adapting a pretty lengthy work, with a lot of great melodies, into a fighting-trim package. I don't care what Jeff Ream says, the drum riff in the ballad was fine. The corps had a very mature, very dark sound, and some amazing drill moves in there as well. All in all, it felt like a group comfortably at the top of their game.
Phantom Voices (1991) - Not the cleanest show ever, but one of my favorites because it wears its heart on its sleeve. No needing to deconstruct what they're going for - it's pretty much front and center. Absolutely brilliant musical choices that all fit together nicely, and I would love to see them figuratively let their hair down like they did with Pagliacci, which is still one of my all time favorite charts. Their second stab at Bacchanale was much tighter, and the battery much improved from the year before. All in call, it's "classic" Phantom, and if you had to show a new fan one show that represents all that Phantom Regiment is, this one wouldn't be a bad choice!
Songs from the Eternal City (1998) - After the title in '96 and such a strong brass program in '97, this show kind of felt like falling off a cliff. It was a musical and visual mess. I blame the staff - there was an obvious lack of clarity as to what they were going for here.
The Red Violin (2009) - I get what they were going for, but it didn't connect. The story wasn't as interesting, and the music was... well... boring. And the new uniform jackets were awful.
Swan Lake (2014) - Felt like another corps trying to program like Phantom Regiment. And the uniforms... yeah.
Phantasm (2017) - I'm not sure where this one came from, but they should have put it back. The voiceovers added nothing, and distracted greatly, and for all of the years waiting on Finlandia to appear in a show, they sure didn't do much with it.