(Tooth & Nail Records)
Progressive rockers Artifex Pereo have taken the melodic tranquility of Time In Place, and backed it with a sharper edge for their sophomore release, Passengers. Think of “Hands of Penance” from their debut, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what direction Passengers takes. The increased focus on being grounded and grittier works wonderfully, though the heavier sections are used sparingly. “Paper Ruled All” is the first to showcase the stronger writing of the record; the structures often swim smoothly before erupting into a more frantic chaos of beautiful emotion. “Enterprise of Empire” does something similar in the way it plays lightly and soothingly until its finale, at which point things seem to crumble into destruction. While these two tracks are probably the finest, both “Age of Loneliness” and “The Coefficient of Inefficiency” come close with their well balanced, middle-of-the-road styles of appeal. “The Coefficient of Inefficiency” is especially memorable and warm; it’s in these moments that Artifex Pereo shine the brightest.
Compared to Time In Place, Passengers takes the best and makes it better. This is not a sophomore slump, but rather a step forward for an already impressive group.