Never, ever cease to look for those mutineers. For those bands that step outside the proverbial boundaries that somehow appeared. Invisible borders, not necessarily decreed by law, but more often by elitist popularism.
Driven by few to imprint their beliefs onto the masses that oftentimes gladly submit to the yoke of unified thought control and overcooked political correctness. A very Orwellian world, but one that we do see emerging more and more these days.
In music, ‘specialists’ will categorize everything that sounds into genres. And it seems that more is better and less truly sucks. Funny enough, they frown severely on anybody daring to defy their rulez and just – well – make music the way they see fit.
So, the RMR deck crew always has a lookout up on the mainmast, so that we may spot those rebels once they appear. Bands like Neoheresy, for instance. Not always successfully, though. The rock and metal multiverse is vast, and they are few and far between. In this light, methinks that I just found a sibling of the bass maniacs of Vvon Dogma I, at least in complexity.
And I am intrigued.
Black Passage‘s tune sounds as if Steven Wilson finally found the path of trve and very dark metal and bought himself some real instruments. And enjoyed too much dope with the likes of Nirvana in the process. Or a much better version of things that The Vicious Head Society never quite achieved.
That is how otherworldly and deliciously weird the new record The Veil of Black Passage blasts off our mighty sound machine these days. At last, we have a band that just steps all over those established metal genres and their little brothers and sisters. So much so that you end up in some sort of primeval mush that forces you to sit back and start to really listen to the record. This is definitely not your typical background music.
The record hits brutally hard with an extreme mix of prog, grungy Punk, Tech Metal, some Deathcore with a lot of melodic and not-so-melodic Death Metal straight in the mix. To tear this asunder some more, there’s this pretty tasty progressive flavor, complete with clear vocals. As if Haken finally found the 10th circle of hell, and went there, too.
Black Passage is a new band, yet made up of members from the likes of Fallujah, Behold the Desecration, and Anisoptera. This is also why the avid listener can detect a certain closeness to Fallujah at times.
So, talent we have galore, but do we also have quality?
And that’s a difficult one. As I understand it, Black Passage seek to convey instances of the darkest hours in human life. A theme of sorts, which should provide some sort of guidance and calm down these turbulent waters the band constantly churns up.
But sometimes The Veil sounds as if the band did not quite know where to head next. Other Extreme Metal bands – by comparison – will still get you some fil rouge, even in circumstances of atrocious dissonance.
Yet here, I find myself in a sea of sometimes confusing elements that refuse cohesion in a larger sense. If you are just looking for noise, then – yeah – it will talk to you. But if you look at The Veil with mastery and excellence in mind, we have issues.
The whole production also appears rough and often slightly frazzled around the edges. As if they had a cut-and-paste party with the mix. And the master forgot to smoothen out the rough parts. On the other hand, Black Passage put out a compelling piece of real metal. I continue to be fascinated by the prowess these guys muster. Even if the clear voice vocals do sound a bit watery at times. And you really need to search for the bass, it is so buried in the mix.
Then again, the record is full of pockets of exquisite excellence. Lamenting Ghost or the progressively tainted Left to Waste – for instance – really got quite some air time in the RMR office suite.
But there’s better still. Tables Turn – the jewel of the piece – comes across as so punk, it could have originated from a darker, Death Metal-infused version of the aforementioned Nirvana. If The Veil was supposed to ooze blackness and grief, then this one gets the prize.
In the end, Black Passage just lit a beacon. One that gives us hope that more of the post-progressive Extreme Metal could head our way. Despite all its shortcomings, The Veil gets us a taste of what this band can do. Yet, their style is so avant-garde, they will certainly lose many a potential fan.
But that does not take away from the undisputed value this band brought to our sound machine. We much enjoyed this blazing hot jambalaya of sometimes seemingly miscellaneous sound bytes. Which – in the end – do make some weird, yet limited sense.
In a very geeky kind of way.
Record Rating: 6/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook
Release date: 26 July 2019