Released: 2007, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: J. Campbell
To paraphrase Peter Gibbons, Mnemic are everything that is soulless and wrong.
This band is clearly influenced by a trio of revered mid-90s albums: Meshuggah’s DESTROY ERASE IMPROVE, Fear Factory’s DEMANUFACTURE, and the masterpiece that is Strapping Young Lad’s CITY. However, instead of paying homage to the brilliance of these modern metal cornerstones, Mnemic trickles out tepid, diluted, MTV-tailored rip-offs of superior ideas. Even their ultra-catchy, sugar-coated choruses sound like scraps from Speed Strid’s cutting-room floor. Most copycat metal bands compensate for their unoriginality with conviction and zeal; Mnemic has neither. PASSENGER is a case study in rock ‘n roll swindling.
Admittedly, I’ve disliked this band for years, but have always been open to the possibility that they could deliver on their hype and craft an impressive metal album. Their aforementioned influences are personal favorites; it’d be nice to have another respectable, young squad on the block. So, with earnest optimism, I found myself nodding along to “In The Nothingness Black”, even though it made me feel a little dirty. Suckerpunched by the infectious chorus and thick groove, I was dazed and confused…could PASSENGER be the album I was hoping for?
No. Those frail hopes were dashed when “Meaningless” excreted itself out from the track 3 slot, cementing Mnemic into a mallcore rut for the remainder of the album. Forget the DEMANUFACTURE reference. The sterile “jumpdafuckup” drum/guitar sync recalls the nadir of DIGIMORTAL. Vocalist Guillaume Bideau’s grating harsh vocals dissolve into indiscriminate, nu-metallish scatting. I officially want to die.
Some SYL Lite chunkiness peeks out from the muck as the album progresses, but Mnemic simply doesn’t have the chops (nor the intensity) required to pull this stuff off. Or hold a metalhead's interest. Not a second ticked by during the course of my listening experience where I didn’t want to rip this coaster from my CD player and crank “Far Beyond Metal” as loud as humanly possible.
I’d delve deeper, but this album gave me an uncomfortable urge to dive brain-first into an empty pool, and so does writing about it. That’s not to say it won’t attract a large share of fans. Truthfully, a handful of these clean vocal melodies are winners, making PASSENGER ideally lightweight stereo fare for the passive. Christian Olde Wolbers and Tue Madsen’s tandem production is beyond pristine, and, to the unchallenging listener, it will mask the album’s many shortcomings, most glaring of which being the wholesale lack of an identity. I mean, even the freaking COVER was lifted from Turbonegro, and the album title itself has been jacked from Anders Frieden and Niclas Engelin’s like-minded mallcore side-project. The title is fitting though, as this band is indeed a “passenger”, hitching a free ride while letting the top-tier bands handle all of the navigation and steering.
What’s that old saying? Something about “…no one rides for free”?