DGM - The Passage

(CD 2016, 59:59, Frontiers records FR CD 746 )

The tracks:
  1- The Secret (Part 1)
  2- The Secret (Part 2)
  3- Animal
  4- Ghosts Of Insanity (Feat. Tom Englund)
  5- Fallen
  6- The Passage
  7- Disguise
  8- Portrait
  9- Daydreamer
10- Dogma (Feat. Michael Romeo)
11- In Sorrow

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Italian progressive metal band DGM is one of the occasional bands that has started with one particular line-up in 1994; guitarist Diego Reali, keyboardist Maurizio Pariotti and drummer Gianfranco Tassella. But due to multiple changes in the band, the 2016 version of DGM has none of the name givers left in the band. However, since the addition of vocalist Mark Basile and the release of the album Frame in 2009, DGM's line-up has stabilised and the music has been lifted to a new high. The Synthesis album saw, besides live DVD recordings from their show in Rome, re-recordings of previous songs, presenting their new settled line-up. The 2013 follow up Momentum settled their status and 2016's release The Passage could be the start of ascending to the next level. Besides vocalist Mark Basile, DGM is guitarist extraordinaire and producer Simone Mularoni, keyboard player Emanuele Casali, bass player Andrea Arcangeli and drummer Fabio Constantino; the latter one serves the band the longest now; since 1999.

Since the switch of guitarists; Mularoni for founder Reali in 2006, the songwriting has gotten a positive boost and taken the band's musical style towards a style in the vein of Symphony X and Pagan's Mind. These influences were celebrated on the Momentum album with guest appearances of Russell Allen and Jorn Viggo Lofstad, both members of the bands mentioned above respectively. The Passage also sees two guests participating; Evergrey's Tom Englund features on Ghosts Of Insanity, an incredible powerful progressive power metal song where two voices meet. Tom's more darker approach leaves a positive mark on the track, both vocalists sound amazing together, dark meets light so to say. The other guest is Michael Romeo; mastermind and guitarist of Symphony X. During the up tempo double bass laden Dogma he adds his trademark shredding style of soloing to the heavily Symphony X influenced sounding track. The two parts of The Secret form the perfect opener for this 2016 album, the first part represents the powerful, though melodic part of DGM. Mark Basile's voice adds a melodic and even bluesy touch to DGM's progressive metal; I guess even David Coverdale must be one of his inspirations. The Secret Part One is filled with fine guitar solos and also the nice keyboard versus guitar part sounds amazing. The Secret Part Two has a short, smooth almost spoken part that really suits the composition, cool integrated background vocals and again incredible solos. The first single of the album is Animal; a song that can be seen as the bridge between the previous album and The Passage; accessible, catchy and memorable. The perfect song to play live that also could appeal to the more melodic fans. Note; the increasingly use or abuse of grunts and growls on progressive metal albums; something I personally enjoy very much, has passed this album. So, no fear for the aficionados, who go green when a grunt appears, The Passage has no grunts, just amazing vocals acrobatics of an immense voice. Back to the review; Fallen starts as a rock solid power metal composition, but the vocal style of Mark totally creates an individual and recognizable DGM sound. Yes, influenced by both bands mentioned above, but still a true DGM sound. When you were still not convinced by Mark's vocals, Disguise will. This short piano ballad is a beautiful track highlighting both Casali as well the Voice. Both Portrait as well as Daydreamer are recognizable, solid songs, filled with several solo parts, lots of double bass drums and a roaring bass underneath. The final track on the album; In Sorrow starts almost acoustically and shows this band does not only produce high speed, full power compositions. The intensity of this track shows the other side, a side that I personally like very much. Listen to the discrete vocal/guitar part on the end of the song; goosebumps.

For me, I loved DGM's previous album very much and the album still gets regular spins. The Passage easily equals Momentum in my perspective and shows perhaps a larger variety in their music, which should enlarge their audience. My results; fantastic music, wonderfully played, maximum points.

***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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