Lamentations – Passion of Depression Review

In 2015, Singapore’s Lamentations demonstrated real potential with a debut entitled Echoes in the Wind. I’d always kept a weather eye on the Lamentations social media, but it took nearly 7 years for the sequel entitled Passion of Depression. 2022 sees the frontman Danny Jacob now collaborating with the members of his sister band Monotheist, and boasting a host of guest musicians including members and ex-members of Cynic, Extol, and Black Crown Initiate. Their Bandcamp page suggests that the band may now be based in the US, and I remained excited to hear how things had progressed with such a long period of gestation. The one sheet promised “a cinematic concept album that portrays pain, pleasure, joy, and sorrow” but how does that stack against reality?

Passion demonstrates a clear overall alignment with death metal but it’s executed with strong melodic and progressive, almost technical, tendencies. The instrumentation is overblown and intricate but the robust song structures and disciplined pauses keep things on the right side of masturbatory. Its propulsive energy and surprising variety make this one of the more expressive and engaging death metal releases you’ll hear this year. “Sombre”1 opens with a fairy-tale fusion of synth strings and a xylophone, then breaks out some neoclassical shred-work before progressing through a deathlier tremolo-picked passage. “Obeisance,” especially, offers a masterclass in how to be technical without sacrificing proper melody or songwriting. Its grand opening layers raw shredding guitars over rolling drums before moving through one of the record’s most excellent percussive transitions. The core melodic motif is prefaced with powerful roars and head-banging grooves. In all, Passion never forgets its sense of fun.

Lamentations’ guitars are the lynchpin of the album’s energy and fun. They’re constantly shifting and surprisingly dense, revolving through deathly grooves, chugging rhythms and heroic shredding; sometimes all at once. “Shiver” exhibits all across its first few minutes, conveying energy through an urgent opening riff, heaping on the fun with neoclassical shredding and recalling the burliest death metal bands with its grooves. The guitars are almost closer to the melodic expression of a voice than the vocals. The frequent harsh vocals offer deep roars which have initial impact but are one-dimensional, while the occasional clean vocals diversify the experience but lack oomph. They accentuate the guitars but don’t do much melodic heavy lifting themselves, with the exception of “Shiver” and its harmonized vocal hook. The acrobatic drumming and satisfying bass presence round out the package, both underpinning the creative axe work.

Passion runs for just 7 tracks across 57 minutes, indicating that Lamentations boast progressive songwriting to match their technical instrumentation. Considering how maximalist the record is, with 3 tracks approaching or exceeding 10 minutes, there’s shockingly little fluff. These durations necessitate some level of repetition and a few lengthier interludes, but all is written deliberately and only a few passages on “Shiver” and “Sombre” outstay their welcome. The ambitious songwriting generally thrives through the uniformly-excellent transitions. There’s a lot of change but it’s all connected in a sensible and compelling fashion. My notes were littered with stand-out transitions, including at 2:55 on “Anew” as the chugging guitars continue through a brief pause in the other instrumentation, and at 2:55 on “Ire” when the technical grooves bridge 2 different passages2. If I have a minor criticism, it’s that the music is so detailed and shifts so much that it’s difficult without very concerted listening to pick out the 2 or 3 core melodies which demarcate one track from another. Those melodies are embellished and layered so it’s not the “easiest” album to appreciate and break down on first listen.

Nonetheless, Passion finds Lamentations executing on the talent and potential of the debut album nearly 7 years ago. It’s an intricate, melodic, and progressive affair, but retains the ripping guitars and pummelling rhythms that one would expect of their favorite death metal band too. It perhaps lacks a little songwriting tightness given the occasionally-excessive song lengths, but there haven’t been many better releases in this sub-genre this year. Come for the guitar theatrics; stay for the well-conceived songwriting.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Willowtip Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Note the correct spelling.
  2. It seems that 2:55 is Lamentations’ favorite moment.
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