Having one full-length to their name, the Portuguese act Burn Damage followed up with an EP titled Downward Passage. Described as a combination of death, thrash, and groove metal blasted away in four tracks, it piqued my interest. Though it immediately reeked of overproduction, things start on a stronger and bombastic note with “Vortex.” A doomier opener gives way to melodic death metal riffage that cuts the atmosphere, right through the noisy vocals.
But from there, Downward Passage became a downward spiral and a let-down. You might assume by the genre tag that it turns into modernized Pantera worship with death metal growls over-top, but it’s actually even less than that. “Fire Walk” almost feels like a shot at metalcore, straying far away from what came previously. The riffs here are drawn-out, slow chugs that lack any kind of hook, and the vocals just get throatier than before. This drones on for almost six minutes, rendering itself useless, even with the effects added to the awkward soundscapes tossed to the background of the ongoing chugs.
I can’t say that the back two tracks really get much better, either. Though “Inception” is a far quicker and punchier song, it’s still made up of the same lifeless corpse of what preceded it. And that sampled part added to the end? Pointless. All that’s left is “They Live,” one that brings nothing to the table, and builds itself off of whining strums and continuous throaty outbursts. Do you see the constant here? One-sidedness taken to the extreme with overly glossy production doesn’t make for a long-lasting treat.
I guess at least the first of the four tracks was alright. But really, this wasn’t what I was expecting when venturing into a death/thrash release, even if the intent was to add some groove. For interest purposes, go ahead and give it a shot, but don’t get too excited.
Downward Passage was released on April 5th, 2020.