Every now and then you come across some really incredible releases from unique bands, whose music is so compelling that you click with them immediately. Passion Rift by the American trio Chowder is, for me, one of those releases.
Essentially, Chowder is a doom metal band with what seems to be a very clear inspiration from Pentagram and Saint Vitus. However, rather than just reproducing the doom metal of their predecessors (not that there is anything wrong with that), Chowder have their very own quite unique take on doom metal, as they include elements from progressive rock and jazz rock into their style. Central to their sound are well defined hard rocking riffs, which appear just as frequently – if not more frequently – as the droning notes that otherwise characterize doom metal.
Each track on the album is an entity unto its own, and the compositions are very dynamic and, for the most part, quite complex with the straight-up metal-rocker 'Head full of Rats' being the exception. Building on the heaviness of doom metal, Passion rift is nonetheless very varied in tempo, and never gets boring. Moreover, the listener is treated to several changes, twists and turns in most of the songs on this album, and a couple of songs are even truly epic.
So yes, this is a cerebrally oriented type of doom metal with a lot of thinking behind it, but, at the same time, the eight tracks on the album are incredibly expressive and offer a variety of different moods throughout the album. Fans of all things cult will also be happy to know that in addition to standard rock instrumentation, the album also features mellotrons, theremins, cellos and taurus pedals, which means that there are several really spacy moments to look forward to.
The level of musicianship is impeccable, and the listener is treated to rock steady riffage and Yes-like guitar leads as well as organic and jazzy drumming combines with a driving and energetic bass. Even if one does not like metal, the album is worth checking out just for the sake of admiring the skills of these musicians.
If you are in the mood for some groovy riff-driven, yet progressive and challenging doom metal, then do not hesitate to invest in this brilliant album.
2. The Innsmouth Look
3. Salt Creep
4. Passion Rift
6. Head Full of Rats