By sheer coincidence, the first time I listened to Dark Passenger’s debut E.P, it was just past dusk one evening and I was walking through an unlit, wooded park. A breeze shook shadowy brush and bats_ no shit, bats_ darted overhead. The menacing tunes that earbuds pumped into my skull supplied the perfect soundtrack. “Bring on the zombies,” I thought.
Dark Passenger is a doom-laden, touch o’death project featuring guitarist and singer Dan Robinson and drummer Kevin Royer from Shroud of Bereavement, guitarist and singer Brian Kelley from Hell’s Infinite 6 and Valasyrka, and bassist Dave Starratt. The band hails from the Haverhill/Amesbury area.
Dark Passenger has a CD-release show on tap Thursday, July 19, at Ralph’s Diner, 148 Grove St., Worcester. The Metal Thursday bill also features Faces of Bayon, Obsidian Tongue, and Barren Oak. First band goes on at 9 p.m.
“Serpents of Time” opens Dark Passenger’s self-titled disc and sets both the pace and mood for the subsequent 30 minutes. The 8-minute track builds off of a slow grind, with Royer’s drumming holding down a steady funeral march. Robinson mainly puts out a dirgy, mournful vocal track, punctuated every so often by a “clean” refrain. The encroaching dread loosens at the finale for a burst of guitar shred, a biot of tension-and-release that pops up in spots throughout the disc.
“Lurker of the Brine” adds an acoustic guitar intro, and the song has more of an epic, dark fantasy narrative.
“The Door and the Dreamless Haunt" is the most straightforward song, clocking in at a tightly wound five minutes. A sinister message about death freeing the soul begins the nightmare scenario of being in a torturous stage between life and death. The tempos pick up, the grooves are more limber, but Dark Passenger still keeps the song moving to doom dynamics.
The disc ends with the epic “Sentences of Servitude,” a smoldering 10 minutes of encroaching dread that swings from personal torment to broader decay occurring all around.
Dark Passenger forgoes proggy twists and turns instead carrying listeners across the long haul with steely, mesmerizing craft wedged between Type O Negative and Opeth. It’s a slow-burn brutality that serves the tunes well rather than worrying about conforming to a certain pattern.
The Dark Passenger E.P. is a promising harbinger for the band’s full-length album in the works.
In other news, Fate Worse Than Death, Murdoc, Western Massacre, Confrontation, and Escapeway are at The Palladium, 261 main St., Worcester, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 20.
Boarcorpse, Das Muerte, and Rozamov are at O’Brien’s, 3 Harvard Ave., Allston, on Thursday, July 26.
Also on the 26th, Mausoleum, Engorged, Blessed Offal, and Untombed are at Ralph’s in Worcester.
And Cape Cod gets brutal on Friday, July 27, when Led to the Grave, Livver, Drysocket, and Aborted Decency are at Chatham Village Hall, 2567 Main St., Chatham. Show time is 7 p.m.