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Passage : As Darkness Comes

Though all the pieces fit, Passage's long-overdue sophomore falls short of delivering something truly great.

Have you ever gone out to dinner somewhere new, and not really wanting to challenge yourself, got one of your favorite dishes and walked away feeling disappointed regardless of having just consumed something you usually love? That’s unfortunately how 'As Darkness Comes' leaves me feeling. Passage is a Melodic Death/Doom three piece formed from members of Sorcier Des Glaces and Moonlyght that after 12 years have finally released their sophomore effort and unfortunately may have left behind any momentum the debut would have created.

In a genre like this you really have to make damn sure that EVERYTHING gels properly to create that satisfying whole that you come to expect from Death/Doom. When you’re not relying on riffs or overt hooks to draw people in you have to make sure that every melody, chord, and vocal line contributes in some way. On first glance everything appears to be here in one form or another. But once you start listening closely things become much clearer. There are some nice melodies hidden here and there but nothing that grabs your attention. Nothing that REALLY make you feel that sadness and loss. Don’t get me wrong, it still sounds sad but doesn’t really pull you into any of the emotions, unfortunately. Just a downtrodden line because the genre demands it. There is one moment where a groove shows up during the title track to change things up but is promptly dropped making you wonder: why bother in the first place?

There is no building on most of the tracks. No ebb and flow of climax and relaxation, rather it seems the band is grasping trying to bring themselves to that high point and instead of really working for it decides that right where they’re at is good enough. And that’s the story of most of what is presented here. Nothing is overtly bad but nothing really reaches beyond that point. The biggest offender here is, unfortunately, the vocals. As far as I can tell there are 5 vocal types that exist here. You have the standard clean vocals, spoken verse, a shouted singing type, a death growl type and even a deeply sung type that shows up briefly. Most of the clean types are fine but are REALLY hampered by the lyrics. It becomes really hard to take some of it seriously when much of it sounds like it was written by someone who just wanted to write some sad lyrics to go to the music. Like it was written just because they are singing in a doom band rather than something they legit believe in. Thus it starts to become cheesy and dramatic rather than powerful and emotional. Which is exactly what the clean vocals need here. The death growls on the other hand are full of power and sound so much more full of conviction that you forget all about what is being said. Which works much better since the music is doing a better job of conveying sadness than any of the sung vocals are anyways. By the way, the shouted sung vocals shouldn’t be here. They are by far the weakest part of the entire album and could have just been replaced by the regular singing. Everytime they show up they add so much cheese that despite being by myself I still feel embarrassed. It shouldn’t surprise then that the highlight is undoubtedly the instrumental 'Grievance'. Here clean guitars create a dreamy soundscape full of laid back dreariness that imparts its message without saying a single word. Building and drawing you in without pulling back to make room for the vocals.

Ultimately everything here is nice… and that’s the problem, it’s just so content with being nice and filling all the check boxes that 'As Darkness Comes' forgets to push past and create something memorable. If Passage were to take what they did here and apply some daring to the formula they might actually find something that stands out. They never let loose or really bring you into a realm of loss and grievance. The music kinda just stands there, hoping you’ll keep listening. Which, by the way, seems like a long time when the album is just shy of an hour. Lets hope next time we hear from Passage that they decide to try and really push themselves to create something great. Until then, we will just have to settle for a standard dish.

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Reviewer's rating: 6/10


Tracklist :
1. Melancholy Under Darkened Skies
2. Dismal
3. The Sadness That Haunts Me
4. Grievance
5. As Darkness Comes
6. Degradation Of Deliverance
7. Passage

Duration : Approx. 58 minutes

Visit the Passage bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-10-31 by Eli Elliott
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