The Passage

Enflame

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The final Passage album, featuring the return of Joe McKechnie on drums, is definitely the best out-and-out summary of the band's four full-length releases; but it's all a matter of context, and there's still enough dark shades and unexpected twists to captivate the band's followers, as well as newcomers. Dick Witts' vision of romance and power looked at through gimlet eyes still remains paramount, and if he's more suave than ever, the clattering rush of songs like "Clear as Crystal" and "Horseplay" show Passage had hardly decided to mellow. Then there's the two-part "The Half of It," originally split between the album's two sides: subtitled "Twats" and "Sissies," they both keep up a quick intensity but allow Witts a chance to explore two different but equally tightly wound states of mind. If anything, many compositions on Enflame suggest the demented big-band jazz derivations of Foetus -- there's a brassy swing to a number of the songs, such as "Dogstar," in which McKechnie really shines with his contributions. Hints of the band's appreciation for the Fall also surface, as on the brief "Man of War," which is somewhat thrashy but definitely to the point, while "Drugface" has nervous synth bass beats and sweeping keyboards set against Witts' typically cryptic but cutting vision of human interaction. In keeping with the rest of the LTM reissue series, a number of bonus tracks appear on the CD version, including two single cuts, the aggressive yet twinkly "Wave," the darker drive of "Angleland," and various demos from near the end of the band's life. Besides alternate versions of "Drugface" and "Man of War," there's a real winner in "Song to Dance," an at once rich, lush, and abstractly rough vision.

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