Chowder - _Passion Rift_
(I, Voidhanger Records, 2012)
by: Chaim Drishner (7 out of 10)
There's almost nothing more pretentious in the realm of modern music than to record an all-instrumental album. Nowadays, the attention span of the habitual listener is so short that one has to record something virtually mind-blowing in order to make a human actually listen carefully. The problem only amplifies when it comes to heavy metal music and its end consumers, who are, more often than not, people of younger ages; the technologically obsessed, brain-washed, hollow-eyed, stimulation-addicted people of today's iGeneration.

I'm not sure how much an album such as _Passion Rift_ would appeal to the above mentioned humanoids, but if you're not affiliated with them, chances are you're going to love it. That is, of course, if slow-paced, aggression-free, stoner metal is your cup of poison. Chowder strips down stoner rock/metal, freeing it from any charade or costume, and focuses on powerful, hazy, southern-drenched redneck doom metal with an abundance of interesting ideas.

At times almost improvisational, jazz-oriented structureless structures, the music is surprisingly dynamic. The keyboards add a certain mystique to the rhythm guitar oriented body of music and the drums are monstrously loud and vivid.

_Passion Rift_ is a fine album to listen to either as background music or as a contemplative tool of sorts. It does offer some odd, fresh and bold melodies that are a welcome addition to the stagnating pool of conservative -- if not orthodox -- world of underground metal. This bold album offers a daring, exceptional and rewarding listening experience. Alien and unique, even dark at times, _Passion Rift_ has its own color and its very own, singular voice. Bolder still is I, Voidhanger Records, a label with big enough a pair of balls to dare and release an album that, according to today's standards, is virtually a commercial suicide.

Think of Rush playing sort of progressive, instrumental stoner doom metal with an inherently mysterious, wretched vibe, and it would not be too far removed from the truth. Or better yet, think of Earth's _The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull_; if you liked that album, there's a good chance you would love _Passion Rift_.

Anyone seeking something good yet different in the current state of affairs, underground or otherwise: I'd strongly suggest you give this album a try. It's at least as good, if not much better, than the plethora of drone/sludge/stoner mumbo jumbo offered by too many clueless musicians. If you have ever thought stoner/doom metal has nothing more to offer to the world, _Passion Rift_ will most likely change your mind.


(article published 27/11/2012)

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