PASSENGER - Sweden's Stone Sour?
By Martin Popoff

In Flames singer Anders Friden is not the kind of guy to worry about what others think of his lyrics, his singing, his screaming, the inevitable progression of In Flames, or the modern metal tendencies of his other (don't call it "side") act Passenger - self-titled debut set for a June 17th release - after which work resumes on the next In Flames opus and inevitable 'round-the-world live dates. Much like Corey Taylor's situation with Slipknot and Stone Sour, the Passenger saga reads more like that of a long-simmering but legitimate band, Anders, Patrik Sten from Transport League, Niclas Engelin from Gardenian and bassist Hakan Skoger bringing to fruition a claustrophobic, thick, low-tuned sound that has been materially in the works since '00, hanging in the ether since '95.

"Well, I don't like to compare it to In Flames," opens Anders on a defensive and offensive note. "It has nothing to do with it, except for the fact that I'm the singer in both of them. I don't think anybody would ever draw the comparison if it wasn't for the fact that I play in both bands. And Passenger, it's not a reaction to what I do in In Flames. It's not like, 'I can't do this, so it's why I do what I doing Passenger.' Because what we do in In Flames is that we try to bend the rules as far as possible within our genre and we don't care what people tell us we can do and can't do. Basically Passenger is a group that we formed with four guys because we had such a good time together and shared the same music and tastes. If I bought an album, I told the other guys and they'd go buy it and that would be great and the other way around. Today, in the music scene, it's like, you're not allowed to do this or that. It's easy to paint yourself into a corner by describing music. So I'd rather have people go listen to the album. If they like it, you know, great, if they don't, they can go find something else (laughs). That's what I want to say about this album. We tried to do something that is more of a long-lasting album, something that you maybe don't get into immediately but hopefully something that you can listen to ten times, 20 times, 30 times, 50 times, without getting bored. The music I like is like that."

Passenger has already gotten a bit of flak for all the clean singing, the big choruses, the occasional beep and bleep of a synthesizer. But the songs cut through... and despite Anders' protests, a bunch of this sounds like those cloud-breaking moments on any given In Flames spread. But the inspiration comes from somewhere else.

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