Friday, February 08, 2013

Chowder: Passion Rift (2012)

As Good as the Band Name Suggests

Let me paint you a picture: Three metal nerds sit around with a 2 liter bottle of Shasta, watch a few horror movies, smoke weed, and listen to Rush. They proceed to pick up their instruments, jam for a while, and maybe add some synthesizers in post. They call themselves Chowder--like the soup--because they obviously take themselves and their music quite seriously. The album they make, Passion Rift, is about as exciting and dangerous as that sounds. In all honesty, I could end the review right there. But I suppose there are those of you who think it might be fun to listen to an album of progressive doom metal created by Rush nerds who approach their craft in the same way as improvisational jazz musicians approach theirs (that is, as a social event rather than a musical one).

Allow me to dissuade you.

Opener “Mysterioid” is a bunch of sci-fi sound effects and synthesizers. It’s not terrible, but also not terribly enticing. The rest of the record combines this bad horror/sci-fi soundtrack vibe with milquetoast doom, aimless prog noodling, and faux psychedelia, sans vocals. They step outside of this to explore the wildly different realm of Western soundtracks on the title track, but otherwise that description is complete.

The doom riffs are all quite boring, not especially heavy, and very same-sounding. Compare the riffs of “Insidious” to those of the title track, and try to tell them apart. The main riff on the mercifully short “Head Full of Rats” is the one that stands out the most. Because it’s not just dull, it’s got a horrible start/stop bounce that reeks of the worst kind of Rush worship. The drums are worthy of neither special praise nor special condemnation. And did I mention the lack of vocals? Instrumental music is tough enough to get into when it’s good. When it’s not, it’s some kind of Dante’s Inferno style punishment.

To tell the truth, they don’t do everything wrong. The clean, clear production is appropriate to the music. They change tempos on a sufficiently regular basis that it doesn’t quite lull you to sleep. And I could almost enjoy the fact that the bass is always doing something different from the guitars, if either one of them was doing anything worth mentioning.

If this still sounds like something you want to hear, then by all means crack open that bottle of Shasta.

The Verdict: 1 out of 5 stars

This review originally appeared on


  1. Indeed, I thought it would be fun. It wasn't.

    I'm sure there are Rush nerds out there making better music. I just know it.

  2. I'm sure there are. Rush is admittedly a good, probably great band. But they also know how to write actual songs.

  3. They were great in the 70's. Now? Eh....

  4. Never really got into Rush myself. Decent songs here and there, but Geddy Lee's voice really bothered me for a long time.

  5. Chowder? I loved that cartoon! This album? Not so much.

  6. You Obviously Don't know shit About Doom or Chowder.