This band is quite special to me. The last DGM album “Momentum” was incredible and the song “Trust” from it has become a personal anthem. So “The Passage” was easily one of my most highly anticipated albums of 2016. The band signed with Frontier Records which concerned me a little since Circus Maximus seems to have become an AOR band like most bands already signed to the label.
Fortunately, “The Passage” is quintessential DGM, kick ass prog metal with tons of melody and plenty of technicality. The only thing missing from the last album was a big epic track and DGM take care of that issue right from the start. The two part opening epic is called “The Secret” and it might be the definitive DGM track to date. It literally has everything that the band does well in it.
Part 1 is the fast paced, hook laden riff-o-rama that we want from DGM while Part 2 starts off more groove oriented before finishing in grand fashion. Any concerns about DGM mellowing out are quickly resolved. “Animal” is a powerhouse track with a cool, stuttered riff to start it out. It was the first single/video and deserved to be. The engine behind these tracks is drummer Fabio Costantino, the guy is one of the best drummers on the planet and deserves to be recognized as such.
“Ghost of Insanity” features guest vocalist Tom S. Englund of Evergrey singing along with DGM frontman Mark Basile. Basile is one of my favorite vocalists ever. He is THAT amazing. So while Englund is a solid vocalist, he just doesn’t have the same range or power that Basile does. I find myself wanting Basile to sing the whole song. Russell Allen of Symphony X sang on “Reason” from “Momentum,” so guest vocalists are nothing new. It’s just that Symphony X are clearly a major influence on DGM so Allen was a better fit stylistically than Englund. But it’s a great song and the two actually sound good when singing together.
Speaking of Symphony X, Michael Romeo adds a guitar solo to “Dogma.” But when you have a guitarist as incredible as Simone Mularoni, you actually don’t need Romeo! Mularoni is a riff machine and his solos are both memorable and insane at the same time. “Fallen” is the perfect example. This track fucking rips. The verses are blistering, the pre-chorus is massive and the chorus pounds. Classic DGM.
The only track that doesn’t quite grab me is the mellow closing track “In Sorrow.” It’s not a bad song by any means but I think I’d prefer the album to end with a final kick in the teeth versus a shorter, pensive moment. Plus, the album already has a little oasis with “Disguise” and I like that track more, plus the placement of it works well.
“The Passage” is exactly the album that I wanted from DGM. I suppose if you aren’t into classic prog metal like Dream Theater or Symphony X have done through the years, you’re probably going to have a bad time. But if you love great guitar/keyboard interplay with a singer that can actually SING, and a set of great songs that are arranged perfectly, “The Passage” is essential.
1. The Secret (Part 1)
2. The Secret (Part 2)
4. Ghosts Of Insanity
6. The Passage
11. In Sorrow