Born from the students of Savannah College, Passafire is a reggae band that has been playing since 2003. Their style is a mix of genre, mixing rock and reggae into a really interesting blend. The band has kept up with touring, playing show after show, and to them, it’s paid off. 2013 is a big year for Passafire though, not only have they been playing for a decade, but they’re also releasing their newest album Vines.
Passafire is a rock/reggae hybrid band of sorts. They’ve got the typical reggae rhythms and some often heavy sounding guitars. The end result? Pretty good. Truth be told, a combination like this didn’t have high expectations, but I was blown away. Passafire’s execution is fantastic and they seem to know what cards to pull and when. For instance, “Souvenir,” the third song of Vines starts off fast, incorporates some distorted guitars, and then less than a minute in, begins to add some reggae influence. Somehow as the song bounces between the two extremes, it comes out just right. The band manages to maintain the mood, which helps keeps the song consistent, but uses the change of style to create some awesome variation. Passafire put a lot of thought into their music and it shows.
From a more critical standpoint, Vines can be hectic. The vocals and various instruments often seem like they’re competing for the spotlight. There’s very little in ways of a dynamic, it just seems like everybody is going as loud as they can. Since Passafire uses so many varying melodies (whether they’re supporting lines or not) everything starts to sound super busy. That aside, there’s very little actually wrong with Vines. It just sounds too noisy at times.
On the other hand, Vines has some serious gems. “Steam Rises,” is probably one of the most rock-like songs on the whole album, but it’s great. Droning, robotic vocals combined with a groovy yet powerful guitar really just kind of hits the nail on the head. Another awesome song, “Black Dog,” is one of the most mellowed out songs. To see Passafire turn things down a bit is a nice change up. The acoustic guitar alongside with the repeating piano notes creates an atmospheric experience. It’s a different kind of song for Passafire, but, it really demonstrates how well-rounded they are –being able to play a number of styles. Finally, the opening track, “Earthquake,” is another song that will just kind of stick with you. It’s upbeat and mixes the summation of Passafire’s stylistic creativity. When the song first starts, it sounds like an early 60s/70s reggae song, but soon progresses into a more modern jam. The bass line and the keys really mix well and it’s an awesome way to start Vines.
When all is said and done Vines is just pretty good. There’s nothing much to complain about, and the songs are fantastic. Passafire’s massive talent and ability to vary their sound shine through most of all; but sometimes their all-out style is really not the best. Regardless, Passafire’s execution is great and if you’re a reggae fan or just like some good ol’ rock music, Vines is probably right up your alley.