Reviewed: [November 2022]
Released [2022 Willowtip Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
If you were expecting loads of doom and gloom from the second album by Lamentations – and why wouldn’t you given the band’s name and the album’s title – you’ll be in for quite a surprise as Passion Of Depression plays itself out. What you’ll end up getting is a sprawl of epic, occasionally symphonic tech-death that packs nearly an hour of music into seven songs and features guest musicians galore – with the only doom and gloom rearing its head occasionally in the storyline about “the pain, pleasure, joy and sorrow that encompass one’s life journey” that anchors the lyrical narrative here.
And that may explain the six years between the band’s 2016 full-length debut Echoes In The Wind and the follow up. But during that time, Singaporean frontman Danny “Jungle” Jacob frontman fleshed out a full band -rounded out by three members of Florida’s Monothiest, guitarist Michael “Prophet” Moore, drummer Chris Stropoli and Puerto Rico-born bassist Jose Figueroa – while writing the magnum opus and getting connected with the myriad guests here, including several ex-Cynic members, Ethan Mckenna of Black Crown Initiate and Norwegian guitarist Ole Borud of Extol.
It has certainly been an ambitious undertaking that is the very definition of “world music,” given the contributors hail from four continents. And while long-winded in extremis, it is a well-executed, at times quite engaging effort that manages to hang together despite the numerous cooks in the kitchen and the seemingly disparate elements that get sewn into it. It just demands some patience.
As the album’s centerpiece, the 11-minute long “Sombre” captures all that in a nutshell with its shape-shifting mix of orchestration, Spanish guitar interludes, Beach Boys-like harmonizing and dizzying, Obscura-like tech death dalliances. It is a veritable study in contrasts, yet all of the parts seem to belong even if the song itself probably could have been honed down to seven or eight minutes while maintaining its various components.
Same goes for the even more expansive finale “Nurture,” which cracks 14 minutes as it incorporates hints of jazz, Voivod-like industrial shimmer, an emo-like piano/clean vocal passage, and loads of progressive ostentation. And though “Nurture” ultimately closes with a majestic flourish, it takes forever to get there and then overstays its welcome.
The more streamlined, though still plenty turbulent, “Ire” and “Obeisance” that lead up to “Nurture” are more effective and satisfying at just under five minutes each, offering more smash and less flash while still sounding epic in their own right. The longer opening tracks, “Prodigal” at 5:48 and “Anew” at 6:40, also manage to keep their progressive aspirations relatively in check – or at least within reason – as they build to the 9:38 “Shiver” that then gives way to “Sombre,” which do not and largely stifle the initial momentum and, along with the finale, turn the album into something of an endurance test.
Still, given everything that went into Passion Of Depression, it could have easily been a disjointed mess. And I guess, if given the choice, I’d take too long over that. Especially if it’s too much of a good thing, which is largely the case here.