Might be a short review this one. Not due to any negative connotations but because Passion Rift, if you were to describe it to somebody who may not know what Chowder are all about, is basically an instrumental, stoner/doom album and when you’ve got no lyrical or vocal content to comment on then that’s pretty much half of your usual output missing.
Like previously stated, that isn’t meant to be a negative comment or any way to water-down what Chowder have done here because this really is an album that speaks in other ways. Thriving on dynamics and atmospherics the album opens with the relatively short ‘Mysteroid’, a trippy, spaced-out voyage through… something. But whatever it’s supposed to mean the vibe is one of Hawkwind-style atmospherics before the crushing guitars of ‘The Innsmouth Look’ rev up and take you somewhere else. Those electronic phaser pulses are still there but relegated to background noise as the chugging main riff and clattering drums contrast against the other effects going on as the track builds in dynamic layers.
But this is nothing compared to the gargantuan title track. 18 minutes of instrumental doom riffage that veers from other-worldly ambience to full-on metal intensity that seems to glide by on a flurry of perfectly executed time-changes that don’t ever take you out from the moment.
Not really an album for the uninitiated, Passion Rift is the perfect blend of technique and feel. The raw and fuzzy production gives the impression of a garage-jam but once you get past that the progressive-style playing hooks you in even further, mixing loose psychedelics with some truly impressive technical flurries that bring to mind a myriad of modern quasi-prog metal such as Mastodon or latter-day Iron Maiden.
So, instrumental stoner/doom – you’ll either know by that description whether it’s for you or not. But even if it doesn’t sound like your thing, at least give it a try because you might find something within its expansive soundscapes that makes your ears perk up.