Athens based Passengers In Panic were founded in late 2019, took the challenge of mixing folk metal, traditional folk Greek music and prog metal with heavy metal and now bring us their debut self-titled record. The core of the band are founders Lefteris Christou (bass) and Kally Voo (vocals, accordion), with the former taking care of compositions and arrangements and the latter writing the lyrics and vocal lines. The line-up is completed by Lela Arguri (guitars) and Akis Gavalas (drums) who joined later.
The record opens up with the one minute long instrumental Intro, complete with spoken words, war sounds and crying babies and initially had me worried a bit – this sounded a bit simple and on the nose. Fortunately worries were quickly dispersed with by the two and a half minutes short track number 2, Undertaking. A confident energetic mix of good riffs, a sweet guitar solo and basically just one verse and one chorus (if you want to call them that) that somehow reminded me of Arkona, Rotting Christ and Fleetwood Mac at the same time. Very well, you have my attention! No Ghosts at the Feast shifts up another gear and has Kally change between vocal bursts delivered in a staccato manner with a punk attitude and a beautiful epic chorus. Lela mixes acoustic guitars that somehow rock to the already rocking electics, all the while Akis drums his heart out and Lefteris provides the glue that keeps it all together. Track number 4, Life At It’s Best, is best summarized as an epic folk metal ballad that the three previous tracks seem to have been building up to. I had this song stuck in my head for days. After this hauntingly beautiful track, Passengers In Panic somehow manage to throw some Alice In Chains into the mix with Gang Of Stares, and shift the tone a bit towards dirty grunge territory, all the while staying true to the folk and prog metal elements.
Track 6 is a damn fine, heavy metal interpretation of the traditional/folk Pontian/Greek song Tsampasin, which serves as a great interlude before the grand epic that is Leap Of Faith. While this almost 7 minute long song is a beautiful showcase of all the instrumental skills and prog composition of Passengers In Panic, it left me cold a bit, as it seems a bit aimless and unfocused. Shipwreck wins me back with smart grooves and a catchy chorus. To Stain is another shift towards darker tones, and tries its best to have Kally sound evil, but does not quite succeed. Nakba is a pretty slow album closer, that could either do with more energy or grandness. As it stands, it is almost not worthy of closing this very impressive debut record.
Passengers In Panic deliver a very interesting mix of folk, prog and heavy metal, and they do it damn well. Each musician seems extremely skilled at their instruments, and the compositions manage to be both surprising and enthralling yet stay catchy and easy to access. The mix of epic, grand refrains filled with folk atmosphere and the energetic staccato passages that almost have a punk attitude is clearly a major strength of this band, and they have the potential of becoming one of greatest things in folk metal! I really, really love the energy and sound! Unfortunately the second half of the record runs out of steam a bit and lost me at parts. So while this will not make it to my top of the year list, the band definitely has me hooked. I can highly recommend everyone to check out this impressive debut and follow this band to see where they will take us next. My hopes for a bright future are quite high!