Monday, August 29, 2016

DGM - The Passage (2016)

Many might see the Italians in the progressive metal band DGM as mere Dream Theater copy, but those people have only scratched the surface, not taking the needed time to understand what makes DGM so special. Because since their induction in 1994, the band has developed a fantastic style of progressive metal with small hints of bombastic power metal and classic hard rock into it, creating an infectious sound that is sure to leave a mark on you. And yes, the resemblance to Dream Theater is there (mostly because DT are the fore fathers of the genre), but the fact of the matter is that DGM has out played them several times in the last years, and they do it once again with their new album "The Passage".

This album is more or less a progressive lover's wet dream, containing a pumped up band that is playing like they were possessed. "The Passage" is filled to the brim with catchy melodies, fast paced riffs, and soaring vocal arrangements. It is an album that takes you on a hell of a ride, both physically and emotionally, discovering many unknown corners of the musical spectre. DGM keeps their core sound, but also shows some great versatility throughout the album, making it really dynamic. It is really hard to become bored of "The Passage", that is for sure.

The album opens up with a really strong 1, 2 punch, in "The Secret", a 15 and a half minute song that has been split into two parts. I normally do not like it when bands split up songs (especially if they are lined up right next to each other in the setlist), but DGM is making a smart decision here, because the two parts are completely different from each other. The first part is classic DGM, catchy and epic, with some incredible riffing and some really interesting song structures. The vocalist Mark Basile also shines, expressing some great emotions with his voice, and he does it even better in the second part, which is slower and moodier, but still fantastic. I personally like the first half better, but both songs help in giving "The Passage" a flying start.

The great songs keeps on coming, and the band is truly showing off their whole arsenal. While "Animal" starts with a riff that would be more suited for 90's Blaze Bayley, it eventually transforms into a really playful song, where the energy is flowing freely, infecting everything that it touches. We also have "Fallen", a heavier and darker song that still has the typical DGM groove, but the lyrics and the heavy riffing by Simone Mularoni makes it stand out among the rest. The band also takes some inspirations from such bands as Scar Symmetry and Symphony X in songs like "Portrait" and the title track, showing off a more futuristic sound that still holds to the formula really well.

The biggest strength with "The Passage" is its consistency. Every song here is sharp as a needle, threading through your ears with ease, never missing its goal. It is high quality craft at its finest here, and it gets an extra touch of excellence when Evergrey singer Tom Englund and Symphony X guitarist Michael Romeo helps out on one track each ("Ghost of Insanity" and "Dogma"). Both their additions are brilliantly executed, adding just enough to contribute, but not taking over. I especially like Tom's addition, and that is saying something since I always have been a little negative over him and Evergrey in general, but he is really nailing it all in "Ghosts of Insanity", which is one of the clear highlights of the album.

There is no mistaking that DGM has delivered another fantastic record to us, but I am wondering if the Italians have over exceeded the expectations, because I cannot find many wrongs in "The Passage". This album is exactly how progressive metal should be. It is immersive, exciting, technical, and overall amazing. The consistent quality that this album holds is astounding, never loosing the grip for too long (only real slip up is "Disguise", and that song is not even 2 minutes long), and it keeps a powerful momentum that is sure to take the band far. Most certainly one of the top progressive metal releases of 2016.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Secret Pt. 1, Ghosts of Insanity, Fallen, Portrait, Dogma

Rating: 9/10 Disguises

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