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Passenger Review

by Thom Jurek

"Mainly Neurotic Energy Modifying Instant Creation" (the acronym for Mnemic) is a pummeling and punching quintet of five Danes who've been hanging out on the fringes of the scene since 1998. They've quietly and persuasively won an international audience for themselves based on their original demos and their two previous albums -- 2004's Audio Injected Soul was universally acclaimed for its blend of speed, texture, genre-bending styles and sheer aggression. Passenger goes a step further, but with a twist: the band's new vocalist is Guillaume Bideau (ex- Scarve). Recorded in L.A. with Fear Factory's Christian Olde Wolbers at the helm, Passenger is a study in human entropy: the lack of involvement in one's life leads to not only the wrong kind of pacifism, but to the decay of the senses, of logic, and of the ability to make sense of emotions, psychological states and spiritual impulses; one can site inspirational sources from Jean-Paul Sartre to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are many inspirations for the themes in these songs, but what matters is that they rock like an unholy prophet assembling the masses for deprogramming. Drummer Brian Rasmussen is among the finest practicing the fine art of metal attack: he's the Keith Moon of metal; simultaneously all over the kit, sending out volcanic slabs of blast tempered only by his uncanny sense of time. He never misses -- all one needs is a listen to the intro of "Pigfuck" for evidence. As for the rest of this insanely musical crew, they can quick-change like Meshuggah and tear down the walls between death metal, industrial, and thrash without even trying. And they can write actual hooks: the beautiful, seamless four-part harmonic vocal break in "In the Nothingness Black," with its slippery keyboard lines is simply ingenious. The twin guitar attack in "Meaningless" adds a new, elliptical chapter in the evolution of the new metal. The powerful riffing in "Psykorgasm" contains within it a gorgeous melodic guitar line that flows throughout the piece, changing shapes and time signatures effortlessly. While there is nothing remotely civilized about Mnemic's Passenger, it is nonetheless as sophisticated musically and intellectually as it is completely emotionally and musically unhinged from what's come before. Passenger is the album that should put them on the map for good. They've earned it, and this feels like just the beginning.

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