It's been nearly seven years since progressive death metallers Lamentations unleashed their brutal yet beautiful debut LP, 2016's Echoes in the Wind. Channeling the classical and/or folk embellishments of Opeth, Aletheian, Ne Obliviscaris, and Wilderun, it was a really impressive introduction. As a result, the wait for its successor has been difficult, to say the least, which is why the final result—Passion of Depression—is enormously satisfying. A tad tighter and heavier than its predecessor, it retains virtually everything that made that initial sequence amazing; thus, it further showcases why Lamentations should be your next big metal discovery.
Curiously, Passion of Depression sees returning frontman/multi-instrumentalist Danny "Jungle" Jacob working with an entirely new line-up. Specifically, several members (drummer Chris Stropoli, bassist Jose Figueroa, and guitarist Mike "Prophet" Moore) come from "sister band" Monotheist. Plus, guests such as former Cynic contributors Jason Gobel, Santiago Dobles, and Max Phelps—as well as Extol's Ole Børud and Black Crown Initiate's Ethan McKenna—add to the LP's decorative viciousness.
Opener "Prodigal" explodes with entwined guitar riffs that are as epic as they are poignant; complemented by dynamically fiendish rhythms and guttural verses, it's an entrancingly hellish way to begin. Actually, it would be thoroughly gripping even if it remained purely hectic, yet a lovely mid-section detour into acoustic strums and cleanly sung melodies reveals a wholly new side to Lamentations' artistry. While a ton of metal bands alternate between harsh and heavenly temperaments, few do it as richly and skillfully as this.
Basically, the same could be said about the remaining six compositions, as each one strikes a comparably smooth and dense balance between the group's two opposing personas. In particular, the closing section of "Anew" is calmingly frisky; both "Sombre" and "Shiver" incorporate warm block harmonies, mournful guitar arpeggios, and various orchestral timbres; and "Ire" counteracts its prevailing belligerence with faint synths and bells.
Just as Echoes in the Wind kicked off 2016 with an extraordinary progressive death metal journey, Passion of Depression concludes 2022 with an equally consummate excursion. Regardless of which one is superior—it's hard to say—there's no denying that both demonstrate Lamentations' top-tier craftsmanship and adventurousness. (That Jacob is able to sustain the magic of his debut with a brand-new set of musicians makes Passion of Depression even more commendable.)
It's truly an experience worth exalting.