Release DetailsLABEL Earache
RELEASED ON 2/20/2007
What We See When We Shut Our Eyes
posted on 2/2007 By:
After two years and a major line-up overhaul With Passion have finally followed up their promising debut EP, In the Midst of Bloodied Soil, with their debut LP for Earache Records What We See When We Shut Our Eyes. Despite different musicians at drums, vocals and both guitars, the core of With Passion's sound remains intact. Eccentric technicality still rules the day and the band continues to cram as many licks, fills, and sweeps as they can into their six-minute-plus riff-o-ramas. The result of their efforts is an album that at its best offers virtuosic, fantastical escapism and at its worst belabored and tangential wankery. At both points, this is probably something that fans of guitar for the sake of guitar should check out.
No matter how good any one song is it will struggle to stand out if surrounded by nine others that sound just like it. That's the biggest drawback of this album. Despite cycling through an endless array of riffs and leads in their often lengthy songs, the band allows these songs to exist in a static space rather than composing them in a way that tells a captivating story. The trio of “Pale Horse Ride,” “Through the Smoke Lies a Path,” and “What We See When We Close Our Eyes” begin the album with a downright pornographic amount of shredding. What's evident from these songs is that the band has evolved from their first EP as metalcore's answer to Children of Bodom, to the neoclassically obsessed love child of The Number 12 Looks Like You and Electro Quarterstaff. So, while the band is certainly offering more in the riff department, these first few songs see the band dropping off the map in terms of coherency. With Passion also have a positively dainty production job working against them, as the recently stellar Erik Rutan provides an uncharacteristically spineless render of What We See When We Shut Our Eyes. However, fans who wish to hear guitar and nothing but guitar soaring to painfully high frequencies may enjoy the knob turning on this one.
Evidence of the band's potential does throughout the album. Despite the alarming lack of character to some of these songs, their unabashed display of talent is almost endearing at times. These guys really know how to play and they seem dead-set on proving it to anybody who will listen. I can respect that. There are even times when their cavalier fretsmanship results in rewarding songs – especially toward the tail end of WWSWWSOE. “Vengeance in Departure,” and “A Road For the Worthy” are slightly more subdued and well paced numbers that, while still rife with finger cramping guitar work, allow the listener to more reasonably process the flurry of riffs they offer.
Judging by their Myspace page, With Passion are a band that seems aware and unperturbed by the negative press their style of play has earned them. If they truly are committed to turning impossibly complex and technically bent melodic metalcore, then they've succeeded. Good for them. However, my critique is that while they're talented they're also at risk of getting lost in a scene that's a lot more populated than it was when they released their debut EP. While their die hard fans may eat this up, With Passion are going to have to do more than just write a ton of riffs to excel.
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