The Final Act
What are eleven years in the music business? Precisely (ok, almost) 132 months it took Justin Stephens - founder, thinker, driver and frontman of Passion Play - to release his meaningfully-titled baby "The Final Act". A baby that for the first time in Passion Play's history isn't self-released, but instead appears on the emerging Berlin underground label "aufnahme + wiedergabe", as a download and (1,000) limited-edition CD. And what is there to hear on "The Final Act"? Justin, who for a long time wasn’t satisified with his first EP "Name No Names" and debut album "Stress Fractures", took the opportunity to record completely new versions of his favourite songs from those past releases, to give them the sound he had always imagined for them. Duly polished and modern, the band's classics such as "Saints" and "Down To You" now sound definitely 21st century and no longer the old, worn 90s goth rock sound. But also numbers that in the past perhaps went under the radar, like for example "Falling Upwards" and "Sight For Sore Eyes", now really bloom thanks to the extensive makeover. Besides the eight revised pieces are, more importantly, five songs that were previously unreleased, that Justin had written between 2002 and 2005 but until now had never recorded, that will send the listener into extreme ecstasy. "Stop Me" and especially "Bullet" have the best chances to integrate themselves into the squad of snappy songs like "Leaving" and "Running On Empty". But also the energetic "Feel Fire" is utterly convincing. Rounding out "The Final Act", which will actually be Passion Play's final sign of life, is the as-ever fantastic artwork from GFX-wizard Disturbanity, who was also responsible for the layout of the "Pagan Love Songs" compilation series. Friends of melancholy-tinged indie rock, British post-punk and classic guitar-wave can (and should) get hold of this without fail. Fans of the band should too - but that’s probably obvious! And now: Say hello, wave goodbye. Thank you, Passion Play - for everything. We’ll see you soon, Justin - you’ll be back rather sooner than later, we know that.
Review by Thomas Thyssen (Gothic Magazine)