PASSENGER – Passenger

Please check your preconceived notions in with your flight attendant because PASSENGER will take you on a ride you had no idea you were taking. Of course whether you enjoy the ride is ultimately up to you and your ears. Stripped down and packaged for radio music may not be to your liking but PASSENGER‘s itinerary includes plenty of time for you to absorb their brand of metal. Heavy-ass, down-tuned guitars propel Passenger with a NEVERMORE-like heaviness but in an undeniably new-school-of-Swedish-metal attack (a la THE DEFACED, CONSTRUCDEAD, etc.) The presence of is clear but performed by guys that obviously honed their skills on the old, thereby not sounding all that . But nonetheless, PASSENGER succeed having writen songs that are awash with hooks and (gasp) feeling. Remember, your preconceived notions are nicely tucked away in the overhead compartment. It’s no secret that PASSENGER are fronted by IN FLAMESAnders Friden, but PASSENGER are far from IN FLAMES junior. While never having been noted for possessing a keen set of pipes, Friden has made vast improvements impressing even this snotty reviewer. His vocals occassionally rear its old horse-throat cackle (yes, hoarse throat too) but mostly manage to breathe naturally. Friden has obviously learned to sing with his lungs from deep inside his gut, which breaths life into the songs. Perhaps his greatest move ever has been surrounding himself with the solid musicians of PASSENGER. Guitarist Niclas Engelin (of GARDENIAN) is a tight guitarist with a killer tone who has no problem holding back when the music calls for it. In the case of Passenger, the songs have a lot of breathing room, and Engelin never overshadows any of the others. That sets the stage nicely for bassist Håkan Skoger, who is a real bass player who plays real basslines that actually accent the tunes. Just check out his handiwork in “For You” and (the album highlight) “I Die Slowly“. PASSENGER would be a significantly different (and less interesting entity) without Skoger‘s low frequency finger dancing. Ex-TRANSPORT LEAGUE drummer, Patrik J. Sten, is a talent who’s an essential part of the band’s chemistry, locking in tight grooves with Engelin and Skoger while leaving just enough room for a bit of showmanship (a la Henry Ranta). With solid musicianship intact, Passenger is musical journey that’s near complete and plenty inviting thanks to new-school ideas by some old-school heads. Enjoy the ride and feel free to leave behind your preconceived notions (and your IN FLAMES albums for that matter). Chances are you won’t even want them back. (Century Media)

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