DGM - The PassageItaly’s litany of exports are unmistakably intertwined with the country’s culture; one look at a Fiat or an Armani suit and my intuition immediately tips me off that it’s a product of pizza-pasta land, even if I can’t quite place what makes the item in question distinctly Italian. The same applies to DGM. Though well into their third decade, these power-progsters are still honing their sound with unprecedented diligence, pairing Symphony X levels of aggression with a distinctly Italian melodicism reminiscent of countrymen like Vision Divine and Secret Sphere. The Passage doesn’t change this formula much, but thanks to some minor tweaks, it may just be the band’s most solid release yet. Plus, it comes pre-loaded with their homeland’s hottest new export: RIFFS.

The Passage may not carry the year’s most devastatingly crushing or head-spinningly complex guitar work, but its riffs come by the aircraft carrier-load, and every single one of them hits home. Indeed, DGM owes much of its identity to sole guitarist Simone Mularoni; his hammer-on and pull-off heavy fretwork thrashes and grooves in equal measure, making blistering runs that feel as deeply rooted in blues as they are in metal. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as the guitar work would be naught but empty showmanship if the songwriting wasn’t up to snuff. In this area, too, DGM is at the height of their craft. Their prior album Momentum was a fantastic step forward for the band in terms of energy and experimentation, and while The Passage can’t quite match its adventurous nature, it’s a superior record thanks to a more consistent atmosphere that’s a touch darker while maintaining the band’s trademark levity.

The weakest element of the last few DGM albums has been the mastering, and unfortunately, The Passage continues the trend. Ironically, Mularoni is responsible for both my favorite and least favorite parts of the record, as he not only handles the guitars but also every aspect of the production. The whole thing has been crushed to fucking death, and bassist Andrea Arcangeli proves himself yet again to be as undetectable as bigfoot thanks to a mix where the guitars overpower. Loud mastering aside, I can’t help but crank my stereo’s volume every time I spin The Passage; singer Mark Basile has never sung with more conviction, Fabio Constantino’s blistering drumming proves more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the frantic riffing, and the guest performances from Tom Englund (Evergrey) and Michael Romeo (Symphony X) add more layers of talent to an already impressive field.

DGM 2016DGM’s melodies admittedly act as a cheese barrier to deter more sophisticated palettes, so despite the excellent talent on display, you might find yourself turned away if you’re an enemy of all things power metal. If you can appreciate the goofiness on offer, however, a warm welcome awaits you — namely, a dump truck of fantastic riffs being unloaded directly onto your goddamn face. It’s not exactly sophisticated, but I was hard-pressed to find a record in 2016 that had as much fun with itself as The Passage. Now quit doing that DGM, before y’all go blind!

Tracks to Check Out: “The Secret,” “Fallen,” and “Portrait”

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  • Thatguy

    I am ‘an enemy of all things power metal’ but I don’t hate this. Well played and the vocals are not too annoying.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Oh shit, that’s cool to hear. It’s hard to gauge sometimes where the cheese line is drawn for non-fans.

    • You should go listen to the entire Grave Digger catalog.

      • Thatguy

        I’d rather have a cello rammed up…no, wait.

        No, thanks.

        • That can be arranged.

          • Thatguy

            Not the cello!

          • Try to relax.

          • Eldritch Elitist

            That should be on our header.

          • With all the creepy doctors around here, you’re totally right.

          • sir_c

            First wrap it in cellophane

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I wonder why/how Apocalyptica hadn’t come up with the “Cello up your ass” line before.

      • flipper2gv

        And Pagan’s Mind maybe?

  • Westpaceagle

    Cheese barrier…too much…
    These guys shred, but ugh those vocals. Trying to like power metal, I really am

    • Thatguy

      Don’t try too hard.

      It’s the vocals that kill power metal for me.

  • It looks like the guy from Disturbed wandered out of the wilderness and onto the video set.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I’m trying to figure out why he slapped the ooh-wa-ah-ah-ater.

      • Owlswald

        I’m trying to figure out why he’s in the water in the first place.

    • Reese Burns

      Anything that keeps him away from the rest of Simon and Garfunkle’s discography is fine with me.

    • lel

      Thanks, dude! Just spilled coke on my new Macbook’s keyboard. “…wandered out of the wilderness”

  • metalcasket

    Hold up, you guys are still doing TYMHM 2016 stuff?

    Demon Bitch – Hellfriends

    DO IT! (Trust me Steel, this has you written ALL over it)

    • Hmm, I best investigate this Demon Bitch and her Hellriends.

    • PS-RagE

      I think it might have been good if it didn’t sound like a single take AAD recording in someone’s garage

      • metalcasket

        Well, to each his own. I think it adds to the old school charm, right down to the album being a whopping 11 on the DR scale.

  • Diego Molero

    I hate power metal, every single band that has ever existed, and this is no exception. I keep trying to like it, but I just can’t.

    • Thatguy

      Nurture the hate.

      I’m with you despite SD’s threats.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Diego, my friend… you should try getting drunk and listening to Manowar’s “Hail To England” on headphones with the lyrics booklet.

      • Diego Molero

        Hahah alright, I will…
        Btw, I got robbed a couple of weeks ago. They took my phone, so now I’m uncommunicated, just so you know.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          No wonder I hadn’t heard from you lately. Let me know when you get a new phone.

          • Diego Molero

            Yeah, I will. It might take a while though.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Unfortunately I can’t listen to this because of the band photo

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Is it because they’re olde?

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        No, I don’t think they look old at all. My problem was the up noseyness of the shot, the haughty arms crossing and silly lining up behind.
        No, I’m not having it!

        • Eldritch Elitist

          That’s how Steel looks while he’s monitoring us to make sure we meet our deadlines. You get used to it.

          • That’s my confrontational management style.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Do you get alll the newbies to line up behind you V style too

          • No, that would be weird.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            You may need some modern management training… Italian style

        • some dude

          Thank you. I almost listened to the embedded track. Now I don’t have to

  • Akerblogger

    If this album wasn’t an album and it was just the one song – “The Secret” – It would be incredible, 5.5/5 in my book: transcendent. That song is a prog-metal wonderment, the bass transition from Pt.1 into Pt.2 is just beautiful. It was all downhill from there.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Woah, 5.5/5? I think that The Secret is one of their best songs, but not so great that it’s a physical impossibility! I personally think the rest of the album is great, but that’s definitely the highlight.

  • Jozo90

    Sounds great, thanks for the tips.

    Also, why do all PM-haters constantly have to comment about how much they hate PM? We get it, you like more heavy stuff…

  • Edmund Sackbauer

    I really cannot see the Problem with the production here. Sounds pretty fine to me.

  • flipper2gv

    Riffing is very Pagan’s Mind like in the track.