DGM – The Passage – Album Review

dgm-tp-cover

Artist: DGM

Album Title: The Passage

Label: Frontiers Records

Date Of Release: 26 August 2016

This review comes a little after the release date but under the circumstances, I make no apologies for this. The reason for my tardiness is that I was not initially very struck by this, the ninth album from Italian melodic prog band DGM. This may have been down to the fact that it was vying for my attention alongside some other big hitting releases but actually, I just think it needed a touch more time in my ears to create the biggest impact upon me.

I’m still not saying it is blowing me away in the same manner as other records this year but I am enjoying the record a lot more than I did in the beginning and I feel better able to offer my considered and objective thoughts on it.

By way of background, it’s worth noting that the band has changed significantly over the years. No original members now remain with the founding trio of guitarist Diego Reali, keyboardist Maurizio Pariotti and drummer Gianfranco Tassella, after whom the band was named, all having departed. Regardless of this though, speaking as someone who somehow owns the entire back catalogue without ever calling myself much of a fan, I have to say that this is arguably DGM’s best recording to date. The fact that I didn’t realise I had the entire catalogue maybe speaks volumes as to how I generally regard the DGM discography to date.

‘The Passage’ is undeniably very slick and very professional, topped off with a muscular, clear production. The album contains some good performances all-round but for me, even now, there either needs to be a bit more of an overt prog feel throughout or alternatively, it needs to go all-out and provide melodies that more frequently give me the chills. As it is, my mind does wander occasionally as the disc develops.

But enough Of The criticism, let’s focus on the positives, of which there are a decent number to be fair.

dgm-band

To begin with, there’s ‘The Secret Part 1’. Unquestionably, it is one of the best tracks on the album, bursting into life with a groove heavy riff after a brief quiet intro. The riffs, courtesy of Simone Mularoni are great; fast and heavy, with plenty of chops as well, reminiscent a little bit of Symphony X. The chorus bridge is glorious with a melodic hard rock feel before a hook laden chorus kicks in to great effect. The composition also features a lovely quieter segment before the crunching riffs and melodies return powerfully. The keyboards of Emanuele Casali play a prominent part throughout, and the overall vibe of this track is instant and accessible prog metal meets AOR.

Coupled with ‘Part 2’, this opening salvo extends beyond 15 minutes in length, delivering the longer more epic composition that many fans have been wanting for some time. ‘The Secret Part 2’ takes up where ‘Part 1’ left off but with slightly more emphasis on atmospheres and the more progressive side of the band’s songwriting. As such, the keys are more overt, there are more pronounced dynamics and there’s a slightly darker vibe all round.

‘Animal’ is a wonderfully upbeat track that benefits from an unashamed swaggering hard rock vibe, complete with hook-laden chorus. Those flamboyant guitars are all over the song and it’s hard not to succumb to the feel-good flavour of this track.

With a guest appearance from one of my all-time favourite metal vocalists, Evergrey’s Tom Englund, ‘Ghost Of Insanity’ is an inspired track that pushes the opener all the way in terms of quality and enjoyment. The duo of regular vocalist Mark Basile with Englund works really well, both complimenting each other and adding different ingredients to the composition. However, with a dark prog feel, properly chunky riffs and a bruising menance, not to mention a cracking chorus, it was always going to be a winner regardless of who was behind the mic.

‘Daydreamer’ is slower-paced but soars thanks to a huge performance from Basile in the chorus. ‘Dogma’ on the other hand, is heavy and fast. It is perhaps the most aggressive song on the album, albeit not without the ubiquitous instrumental flamboyance and a great rhythmic spine thanks to drummer Fabio Costantino and bassist Andrea Arcangeli.

In direct contrast are ‘Disguise’ and ‘In Sorrow’. The former is a gorgeous 90 second interlude that features a rich piano melody and emotive vocals from Basile. The latter begins with a guitar tome that vaguely recalls Metallica’s ‘Fade To Black’, but is a closing ballad that once again showcases the talents of the vocalist, pushing his softer side to the fore.

In between these tracks are a few that still fail to raise much interest and don’t quite match the quality elsewhere. It’s a shame because ‘The Passage’ demonstrates that when they get it right, DGM are a force to be reckoned with. And, with a little more consistency, this could have been vying for a place in my end of year ‘best of’ list. As it is, I’m afraid it just misses out. Worth checking out nonetheless though, as I seem to be in the minority that’s not smitten…

The Score Of Much Metal: 7.75

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s