Head full of riffs...
Genre: progressive doom metal
I have been introduced to a bunch of really interesting progressive doom metal bands this year, and especially Memory Driven, Sorrows Path and Barren Earth made a big impression on me. To this group I can now add the American trio Chowder, whose debut album "Passion Rift" is something else.
Central to their sound are the heavy beats of more traditional doom metal along the lines of Saint Vitus and Pentagram, which means heavy rocking, but not ultra slow, tempos and more defined riffs rather than a reliance on droning notes. But the eight instrumental tracks in this album reach far beyond the already very flexible boundaries of modern day doom metal, and the album features elements from both alternative rock and progressive rock with a slight touch of jazz and sludge as well.
Thus, many of the tracks on the album contain numerous shifts and changes, and you can also expect spaced out intermezzos featuring mellotrons and theremins (actually, the very first track - the aptly titled 'Mysteroid' is a pretty spacey affair which immediately hints that this is going to be a different doom metal experience). Some of the tracks are more uptempo and more straight ahead with 'Head Full of Rats' being more straight ahead and 'Salt Creep' and 'Insidious' being more quirky. The title track and 'Custody' are both epic in song length and feature a number of different sections and changes and impressions (but with the heavy riffs being the most compelling ones), and, while shorter, 'The Innsmouth Look' is no less heavy and feature perhaps some of the most crushing riffage on the entire album. To this, we can add the atmospheric and darkly mellow 'Mazuku'.
There is no doubt that the trio's level of musicianship is superb. The drumming style is energetic and has a jazz-like organicness to it, while the bass is rock solid and has a nice fat and round sound to it. The guitar work is pretty interesting. Riffwise, it has a Tony Iommi-like heaviness and groove to it, while, leadwise, it captures the same type of dynamism that trademarks Steve Howe's characteristic style of playing.
Heavy and doom-laden, yet organic and progressive, Chowder's 'Passion Rift' is a musical experience any fan of progressive doom and sludge metal shouldnot miss out on.