“Passages to Lunacy” is a split that brings together two Canadian thrashers. First up is the 4-piece Winnipeg-bred Solanum. From the intro of “Friendly Civil Servant”, it’s pretty clear that we’re looking at high-end demo/low-end EP quality production. Things are relatively clear, but they don’t really sound all that full. Of course, once the thrashing starts about a minute in, none of that really matters. The band serves up a crossover-inspired sound that would not be out of place on a Cryptic Slaughter or D.R.I. record. This feeling primarily comes from the vocals, which are shouted out at rapid speed, and have a punk flare to them. The band’s riffs tend to be a bit more inspired than most crossover groups, as they occasionally work their way into more standard thrash territory. It also doesn’t hurt that the band varies up the tempos and avoids playing hyper-fast all the time (this is particularly evident on “Welcome To Our Homemade Hell”). Sometimes it feels like you might have heard a riff before, but there are few albums released over 30 years since the inception of thrash that avoid this problem. The only real flaw of Solanum’s side of the split is that these songs don’t have a lot of staying power. They would be incredibly fun live, or as something to drive to, but it’s hard to remember much of what goes on during this release.
Side 2 brings in Epi-demic, a Canadian trio who also worships those who thrash. The production is definitely worse than Solanum’s was, and it is noticeably quieter. This isn’t an awful thing on its own, but in the context of a split, the bands really should ensure their volumes are similar. Once you crank up the sound however, Epi-demic actually bring the heat even better than Solanum did. They too suffer from somewhat forgettable tracks, but they will catch your attention while the music is playing. Nevertheless, the groovy bass intro that opens this side of the split, combined with the crunching guitars that follow set the tone for a short, but sweet thrashing. Epi-demic’s singer is incredibly raw. You wouldn’t really expect him to be Canadian based on his voice, as it can sound pretty German at times. Nevertheless, he is a great fit for the chaos of the music, which even includes blast beats at times. On the whole, both bands definitely show a lot of potential, and with a bit more innovative songwriting (and better production), both could definitely be major players in the thrash scene. If you’re always on the lookout for up and coming bands, “Passages to Lunacy” is a must-buy.
All of it
3.5/5 or 70%.
Written by Scott