passionplay pic (credit Ben Stas)
New Music

The civilizational decline made clear – Providence chaotic hardcore band PASSIONPLAY discuss the feeling of “Sinking”

passionplay, by Ben Stas
Providence, RI chaotic hardcore band PASSIONPLAY just released a new EP called “Sinking“, storming with a unique blend of chaotic hardcore, screamo, powerviolence and noisy mathcore. The band is equally adept with the finesse of technical predecessors of the progressive chaotic metalcore scene, the sheer visceralness of the real screamo and the passionate impact of emotional hardcore.

To celebrate the recent release of “Sinking“, we have teamed up with the band to dive deeper into its lyrical content and themes behind each and every song.

“Sinking” features the amazing art by Andrew Gomez IV, with lettering by Anthony Iwasczyszyn, and is available now on Bandcamp and Spotify.

Catch passionplay live on tour in July – scroll down to see the full itinerary.

“”Sinking” is our newest EP, and we had to overcome a couple serious hurdles to bring it to fruition.” – admits the band.

“We started writing some of these songs pre-Covid, and Alan (guitar) & Matt (drums) even tried practicing them over Zoom in the spring of 2020 (it failed hilariously). Eventually, the world opened back up, and we started playing shows in 2021, but our singer left the band in October. Joshua (bass) talked to Bryan (vocals) who stepped up like a knight in shining armor to fill the void in our lives, and we’ve been firing on all cylinders ever since.”

The band recorded and mixed “Sinking” themselves at Bryan and his wife Marina’s studio Roach Ranch Recordings last fall/winter and got them mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios this spring.

Asked about the general message of this striking record, the band explains: “The general theme of the EP is societal / civilizational decline and collapse on the macro level and the resulting “sinking” feeling that we’ve all been experiencing for years now on the micro level.”

“Inaction over climate change, the eroding of democratic norms in the U.S. (Roe vs. Wade was overturned 3 days ago at the time of this writing), the botched pandemic response, and the barbarism of late capitalism in general have all shown that we can’t trust existing institutions to change things for the better for working people.”

“Not that this is a recent development obviously, but we’re approaching the point of no return if we don’t get our shit together. These songs embody the dread and anger that we feel about these issues. Hopefully, listeners experiencing the same will feel less alone, and maybe we can foster a little solidarity and inspire folks to fight back. What other choice do we have?”

Track by track commentary

Pawn” – We wanted to set an ominous tone right at the start, as if you’re standing in the street of a decimated city. We tried to make that modular synth tone sound like a mix of an air raid siren and a Geiger counter, and once it creeped us out, we knew we had it. “Pawn” is about how the military/industrial complex sees working class kids as cannon fodder. We wanted to balance the ferocity of the first half of the song with a sparse, drum’n’bass-inspired bridge where Joshua and Matt really shine.

Poison” – A song about the horrors of domestic violence, which men especially need to step up and condemn. This is the most straightforward thrashy hardcore/punk song on the EP. The riff uses pretty dissonant, chaotic chords which fit the darkness of the subject matter. On a lighter note, we messed around with a massive bass drop when that breakdown hits. It sounded great, but we ultimately decided that that’s territory best left to and Turnstile.

Parasite” – Maybe the best songwriting we’ve achieved as a band so far, and a song that captures the sound we’re aiming for. We listen to so many different genres of music, and we don’t all like the same things, which we look at as a strength of the band. We combine a bunch of genres and styles here, and we think it makes for an interesting song.

Numb” – This came together spontaneously in the studio and was an opportunity to show our melodic side. It’s a short break from the intensity, shifts the mood a bit, and works as a nice, poignant transition into “Number.”

Number” – Probably the heaviest song on the EP; definitely the most urgent. And mathy. It’s a song about suicidal ideation and intrusive thoughts. We spent a lot of time honing this one, especially the middle section that’s in 10/8 time. Matt went for a Giraffes? Giraffes! spastic kind of feel. This was one of the songs we tried to practice via Zoom, which looking back on it, is a pretty insane idea.

Rubberneck” – We try to throw curveballs in our songwriting and hit people with unexpected sounds to keep things fresh – for ourselves as much as for anyone listening. Sort of like how Fugazi approached their songs where they’d hit you with some weird, out-of-left-field shit (like all these baseball metaphors). This is one of those songs. Alan’s lead riff is composed entirely of harmonics with some added delay pedal fuckery. Bryan wrote about watching a friend of his become radicalized on social media by right-wing evangelical Christianity, which is a theme more relevant than ever unfortunately. The lyric “Your god’s not here to punish me or anyone” is bound to be a crowd pleaser. It’d definitely make a good bumper sticker.

Dreamless” – One of the more relentless, metallic songs we’ve written. Fast and chaotic with an interesting breakbeat-inspired bridge where the drums take over unexpectedly for a bit. Joshua throws some tasteful, punchy slap bass in here. Maybe the heaviest song about insomnia ever written.

Sinking” – The thematic culmination of the EP. We originally wanted to name the band Sinking, based on a lyric from a Gouge Away song, but there’s an indie band from Massachusetts who already has the name. This is the most melodic song on the EP; it’s got a sprinkling of At the Drive-in flavor to it. We’ve always wanted to have a fade-out in a song, so we not only did that here, but we also included a fade-in to that pretty, somber outro. It’s important to note the lyric “I will not acquiesce to whatever’s next.” As much as this EP explores the depths of despair at the state of the world, we also want to emphasize that it’s always worth it to not give in to that despair and to fight back instead. We owe it to ourselves and to each other.

PASSIONPLAY Sinking Tour 2022

PASSIONPLAY Sinking Tour 2022

The civilizational decline made clear – Providence chaotic hardcore band PASSIONPLAY discuss the feeling of “Sinking”
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