Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Passengers - Where We Belong

I'm about to rock your world, boys and girls. I got the pleasure of seeing Passengers last summer with Dead In The Dirt, Torch Runner, and Eddie Brock, and they blew me away. Playing fast hardcore with elements of heavy and dark hardcore, respectively, they blend sub-genres in a way that is reminiscent of Have Heart (who they do a kick ass cover of), Converge, and they're better than your favorite band.

This is hardcore at its finest:

"Bound By Blood" - Beginning with a pleasantly dissonant riff, and fast punk drums, similar to Jane Doe-era Converge, vocalist Alissa rips into the verse with haunting, Sylvia Plath-esque lyrics, "Mother, how dare you?" Providing a more personal, literary style of lyrics than most hardcore bands out now (or ever, for that matter), Passengers rip through this song, alternating between faster, aggressive riffs and bone-shattering riffs akin to your favorite 90s hardcore bands.

"Heat Storm" - Like I said, previously, Passengers kicks immeasurable ass, and not just sonically. I think, honestly, one of the areas that shines the most is Alissa's ability to write lyrics that stray from traditional hardcore messages and themes, and even themes like relationships and hardship--that are prominent in hardcore--are dealt with in such a way that the term "cliche" or "boring" isn't even in my vocabulary. And, if you follow my reviews, you know that I get bored very easily with hardcore bands, after being in the scene for 8 years. And, yes, there's feedback in this song, so you know I'm into it. Beautifully picked bridges, similar to the best tracks on Have Heart's Songs To Scream At The Sun, scale up and down under Alissa's screams of, "Searching for myself; Searching for that feeling of winter."

"Father's Day" - I've never been so pumped for a slower, heavier riff in my life. Passengers offers us a slow, menacing bass line, accompanied by the ceaseless crashing of cymbals, providing a wall of sound while the guitars ring out and Alissa belts out one of the better narrative parts on the album. Just when they get into rhythm, the drums and guitar kick up to circle pit speeds, "It's this twitch in my face, it's a dead give away. My thoughts are never quiet." I can't explain in words the feeling I got when I heard the ending of this song the first time; immaculately timed feedback, heavy hitting drums, and Alissa yelling, "This isn't safe! No, this isn't a safe place!" Chills--for me, and for you.

"The Gold Price" - Very few bands have ever done critiques on commercialism and consumerism without being cheesy or cliche. Passengers is one of those very few bands, and thank god (whichever one you please). Like poetry, with realistic images in place of general statements, this song--the shortest on the album--rages through one minute and forty-four seconds of pure, aimed aggression. The guitars, bass, and drums work overtime to rip through the track, dueling Alissa as she spits gold venom. "We earn this living at the cost of living. This is the rest of your life. Mindless, hungry, starving, feed me."

"Where We Belong" - This intro; this is it. It's not very often that hardcore bands embrace true beauty at the sake of their "hardcore credibility," and it's even less often that bands embrace beauty without losing any credibility at all. This is controversial, but I think that, without a doubt, this song is more beautiful and effective as a hardcore song (not emotional hardcore or melodic hardcore) than any Verse or Have Heart song. There, I said it. That's all I'll say--go listen to it for yourself.

"Animal" - This is the most lyrically powerful song I've heard ever. Another controversial statement, but when you listen to it, I swear to god you'll agree. Coming from Alissa's personal experience with sexual abuse in the drunken party scene, this song is filled with more righteous anger and justified rage than 99% of songs in any genre, ever, and the music follows suit--crushing, angry, violent, pure; this song is true.

Passengers, since I saw them a year ago, has blown me away with every listen-through, and this time was no different. With pure rage, aggression, and a full harness of both instrumental proficiency and songwriting ability, Passengers is your new favorite band. Buy their album, see them live, bring them veggie burgers, and listen to them daily--it'll remind you why you loved hardcore in the first place.