Denmark's MNEMIC turned quite a few heads with its futuristic thrash, MESHUGGAH-like rhythms and shades of FEAR FACTORY/STRAPPING YOUNG LAD songwriting on 2003's "Mechanical Spin Phenomena" and 2004's "The Audio Injected Soul". While the soon-to-be-released "Passenger" may not reach the heights achieved by the 2004 release, those same elements are present and several of the songs possess melodies that are quite memorable. This time the album's theme is one that deals with a philosophy of existentialism. In keeping with what seems to be a trend of guest musician appearances, Shane Embury (NAPALM DEATH) and Jeff Walker (CARCASS) assist with vocals, while Roy Z (BRUCE DICKINSON, HALFORD, JUDAS PRIEST) contributes a guitar solo.
Gone is singer Michael Bøgballe, replaced by ex-SCARVE vocalist Guillaume Bideau who brings a somewhat more spastic approach to usually above-average results. Bideau's style is not a major departure, but does take some getting used to, at least when he is not in melodic singing mode. His command of the tuneful, even SOILWORK-like, choruses on songs such as "In the Nothingness Black", "Meaningless" (co-written and featuring a guitar solo by Roy Z) and "In Control" demonstrate that he is a good fit for the band. In all three cases, the choruses are powerful and sweetly melodic. Though not quite as melodically captivating (but close), similar plaudits should be given to "Psykorgasm", one with a pronounced FEAR FACTORY/SYL vibe, "Shape of the Formless", and album-closer "The Eye on your Back", the latter accented nicely with bits of piano. Speaking of piano, the electronic/keyboard effects remain as well, but are used more for atmospheric nuance.
Even on the aforementioned tracks, the delivery continues to be characterized by aggression and disorienting rhythms, strengthened by those rubbery, seven-string guitar lines and chunky rhythmic style. With Christian Olde Wolbers (FEAR FACTORY) holding down production duties, Warren Riker (DOWN) doing the engineering, and the consistently strong mixing of Tue Madsen, it goes without saying that the "Passenger" sound is big, bright, and bouncy.
"Passenger" is certain to please many fans of this bombastic and technically accomplished brand of modern metal. My guess is that some will find it to be a work of sheer brilliance and others a solid album that offers a now familiar approach with pretty decent songwriting. I happen to fall into the latter category.