PassCode – Groundswell (Universal)

Monday, 2nd October 2023
Rating: 9/10

Still riding a bit high from the band’s US debut shows in early September, it felt right to give PassCode’s most recent EP Groundswell a chance to shine on it’s own. A four song release, their second EP since screamer Emily Arima (ex-Ladybaby) joined the ranks following Yuna Imada’s departure in 2021, continues to see the band swirl around their hybrid mixture of metalcore, EDM, trance, jpop, and much more. While long time fans more or less know the drill by now, the band’s unique and pulsating sound continues to raise the flags high and it never ceases to bring copious amounts of energy.

For those who haven’t heard the idol-esque metal act before, these four songs serve as a frenetic introduction. Opener “Lord of Light” instantly explodes into a slurry of intense EDM beats and frantic riffs. The contrast between the more melodic, jpop moments and urgent electronically laced metalcore sections seems to be built up even more, in comparison to some of their earlier works, and it really shines on “Lord of Light.” Pounding synths, frequent jumps into aggressive moments with Arima’s bark at the front makes for an addictive listen as it soars to an impressive and hook-driven chorus. “Melody from the Bumbling Crash” serves as subjectively the strongest track of the bunch, again due to Arima’s growls (she could easily start fronting a death metal band if she chose to) being at the forefront of the track as the band’s other three vocalists rapidly exchanging bits with her as the synths delightfully swirl around them. There’s no mistaking the impressively high amount of energy in this track, it will make you move (which can be confirmed to all but ooze out in the live setting).

“Myth” serves as the most melodic of the four cuts, with a driving chorus and effective melodic break later in the track with the four vocalists injecting an almost soothing feeling into the track. Though it rarely slows it’s tempo outside of that stretch, it’s a welcome reprieve from an otherwise unrelenting barrage of riffs, electronically-augmented vocals, and perpetually moving synthwork.  The title track brings things to a close with plenty of flash, with a strong breakdown and fiery vocals meshed together with one of the EPs strongest clean choruses – effectively showcasing all the bright spots in a single track.

With PassCode seemingly more poised to hit international waters with their thoroughly energetic fusion of electronics and metal rolled into one, Groundswell serves as some of the most balanced and strongest cuts the band has provided to date. No one creates a slurry of chaotic beauty quite like PassCode. Dance a bit, mosh around, whatever you’d like – this band gives you total freedom to immerse yourself into their sound.

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