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Where sorrow and anger meet. - 77%

hells_unicorn, January 24th, 2012

There’s been a couple of really odd hybrid offshoots over the past decade or so, bridging the lines between mainline and extreme versions of metal, but there are few that could be qualified as the equivalent of hearing a cat bark or a dog meow. But this is what sums up the experience that is Passion For Sorrow, an offering from the Czech underground that sports a genre hybrid that is not outright unheard of, but offers an approach that is a bit of a trip. Any bridge between melancholy and vileness would have to be a massive one, and this little demo somehow manages to cross the chasm and bring forth an entirely different beast altogether.

At first glance, this sounds like a Goth rock band with louder guitars and a death barking vocalist that sounds fairly similar to Morten Veland. But when listening to the smatterings of melodeath riffs and heavily hard rock oriented grooves, painted over by a thick texture of keyboards, there is almost no comparison to Tristania, Sirenia, or any other band that I would normally associate with this style. “The Phantom” sounds like a rather even mixture of Dead Can Dance and early Arch Enemy, not really having a majority on the former’s tranquil ambiance or the latter’s pummeling riffs meshed with heavily melodic sensibilities, but a perfectly equal balance of both.

Basically it’s all a straight line barrage of catchiness that somehow manages to embody death metal yet otherwise sound almost nothing like it. At times this thing almost wants to be a Gothenburg album, such as at the beginning of “Day When Dead Left The Grave”, but when the church organ chimes in and that distant sounding piano theme that sort of comes and goes makes its presence known, it sounds more akin to early Nightwish. Pile on top of this the heavy use of straight rock beats that give an air of raven hair Goths with their pale faces and black lip gloss dancing about while staring at the floor, but with a vocalist leading the band that looks more like a towering 6 ft. tall barbarian.

Innovation is something that can be rightly railed against when it churns out truly random and unintelligible drivel, but this is possessed of more charm than it is bewilderment and makes for an interesting alternative to the usual collection of Theater Of Tragedy and Type O Negative albums that most who would like this album likely own. This is a well put together album by a trio of musicians with a flair for putting together solid songs with a healthy variety of stylistic contrasts and apt musicianship. Definitely to be checked out for putting forth a unique compromise between rage and despair, two unlikely yet suitable companion emotions.