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DGM - "The Passage" (CD)

DGM - "The Passage" CD cover image

"The Passage" track listing:

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

Reviewed by on September 13, 2016

"It's just that hope and uplifting feel that sets DGM apart from almost every progressive metal band."

The seeds were likely planted long ago, but flourished that weekend in Atlanta. ProgPower USA has the ability to make so many connections that go well beyond the musician-fan. The musician-musician connections are the ones that the world gets to enjoy....eventually. I watched that bond form right before my eyes one night at The Courtyard. DGM's Simone Mularoni sat down with me for what would become a 3 hour discussion about music. He was frequently interrupted by Evergrey's Tom Englund, but the forging and/or strengthening of the relationship between the two would shine on DGM's next album, which we now know is called "The Passage." It turns out that the best can learn from the best, as the album is one of the finest editions to the DGM discography.

If you've read anything from your author, it frequently comes up how Mularoni's perfection in production and sound of so many albums released these days have reduced descriptions on album's he's worked to just "The Simone Effect." However, that keen ear can only come from being a gifted musician and songwriter. Mularoni penned much of what is "The Passage," and the beauty shines. Some of the strongest compositions to date exist here, littered with some of Simone's best guitar work (Michael Romeo's guest appearance on "Dogma" notwithstanding).

The Evergrey paradox is so strong on "The Passage," that the perfect description to someone who hasn't heard it is: imagine an uplifting Evergrey - one where the pain and despair is replaced with hope, happiness and elation. Keep all the progressive and power chords and wonderful arrangements and the end result is DGM. It's too obvious to point to "Ghosts of Insanity," as it features Tom Englund - but the rest of the description hits it right out of the park.

It's just that feel of uplifting hope and elation that sets DGM apart from nearly every other progressive metal band. It is a subgenre that is too often saturated in pain, sadness and melancholy which can sometime hit you far too personally. For DGM, it's inspiring even when the subject matter isn't particularly positive. "The Secret, Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2" are perfect openers and perfect compliments, one upbeat and the second with a little more complexity to it. "Animal" and "Daydreamer" offer that punchy power DGM is famous for and they are nearly danceable in their respective rhythms. The album's heaviest - "Fallen" - features some of the best guitar work I've ever heard on a DGM album. The soaring melody of the chorus of "Portrait" is cradled in flashy blistering riffs. The album just never disappoints.

It's may be shocking after reading the above, but DGM does have more than one stellar musician with winning performances. Marco Basile's voice continues to be one of the best in progressive metal. Check out his brilliant work on the title track as well as the stunning ballads "Disguise" and "In Sorrow." As for production, the Mularoni Effect is in full force.

If you haven't been too familiar with DGM's history, it is filled with diversity and amazing music. Neither the "D" the "G" nor the "M" have been in the band for years, and the lineup is so much better for it. In fact, the current incarnation of DGM couldn't be better, hitting on all cylinders and writing the best music in this, "The Passage" of the band's career.

Highs: Stellar songwriting and uplifting nature that sets this band apart from so many.

Lows: Nothing here for extreme metal fans or even melodic progressive death.

Bottom line: If this album is where "The Passage" has led, then DGM is the cream of the crop.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)