Album Review: BLACK PASSAGE The Veil
Black Passage is a Bay area progressive metal band featuring members of Wolf King and Fallujah. The group uses their debut record, The Veil, to craft telling narratives around the human condition. Their mix of sounds—-atmospheric magic of prog metal to more hard-hitting touches of brutal death metal or black metal—-come together as a tastefully executed whole.
Showing a clarity of vision that is fairly rare for new bands in the genre, Black Passage meld a wellspring of ideas effortlessly. It’s rare to find a group who embrace this level of diversity with such aplomb. Yet, as tracks like "The Broken Hand" show, Black Passage can execute on a range of sonic notions easily. It speaks to the raw talent in this band. Of course, not every idea is where it needs to be yet, for instance, it’s hard to be fully sold on "Trapped," where the interplay of cleans and growls leaves a little something to be desired, but that’s part of starting life as a new band.
What is really striking, generally speaking, when a band tries to embrace a sort of ‘everything metal’ approach, they typically lose sight of having their own sound. Usually, the bands who bring in too many influences lose track of the greater whole it becomes a waste. Black Passage, however, use the broad scope of progressive metal to craft something that owes just as much to California alt-rockers as it does to Norwegian church burners. Their sound is defined by a vibe more than anything else and Black Passage showcase it in their burly riffs, well-developed song structures and Cynic-inspired melodies that put them squarely ahead of the pack.
The thing that makes this all work is high-quality production. If the mix was anything less than perfect so much of this record would feel hackneyed. This is an issue that many bands who embrace a variety of styles run into, but again, not Black Passage. Instead, the group perfectly flow from the angular riffs of “Bringer Of Light” to the dreamy intro of “Bleed For You.” The way that this record unfolds ensures that no matter what stylistic choices the group makes they make sense as a part of a grander whole. That’s why a track like “Tables Turn” with its conventional rock touches can sit nicely next to “The Broken Hand,” a black metal-inspired rager. Everything about this record feels like it was put together with a clear, and at times transcendent intent.
The Veil is a fascinating listen through and through. It’s a record that touches on diverse and deeply relevant elements in the modern metal sphere. In terms of raw talent, Black Passage may be among the top in the business. As is, the emotional heft of “In Place Of Us” shows that not only can these guys play their faces off but they can tug at the heartstrings as well. With dynamic interplay at the fore of The Veil, the band routinely impress. While there is still some development that needs to happen, this is certainly a metal band to watch, and this debut is absolutely worth multiple listens.