Nothing but power. Uncorrupted, unabridged power. Brady Novotny’s Passions Collide left me with just one word after my initial examination of its ten tracks, but it wasn’t because the record lacked any substance to discuss. Novotny lays his heart on the line using a guitar and a whole lot of overdrive in the opening title salvo, following it up with cratering musical mayhem in “Ancient Romance,” studded harmonies in “Cara Bella” and even some old fashioned lyrical songwriting in the form of “Redemption’s Cry,” which at times feels more like a medieval sonnet than it does a modern rock song. The colorful music sincerely affected me on both an auditory and physical level.
The fact is, I was reduced to a one-word summation of this LP not because it had nothing to say, but because it never ran out of statements to make. Passions Collide is a diversely structured melting pot of emotion, swagger, violent showmanship and straight up indulgence that doesn’t require some sort of Ph.D. in fine arts to fully appreciate and comprehend. Unlike a lot of similarly stylized guitar virtuoso records, this isn’t all one giant solo filtered through various degrees of distortion. It’s an invitation into the soul of a composer who has found his artistic center.
The arrangements of “Cara Bella” and the blistering “The Journey Home” are chill-inducing, the latter using a blend of tension-fueled bass and winding guitar leads to create an atmospheric energy while the former employs more modest, ancient tones to spellbind us. “Blue Rose,” “Soul Harmony” and the album closer “Midnight Prayer” also have a particularly intriguing compositional construction, but they aren’t too ambitious in their experimentation. Novotny is wise enough to know that you can take your sound to the edge of reason without necessarily having to jump over a dangerous cliff of uncertainty.
Even though he’s got the lion’s share of our attention in every song above anything else that is transpiring behind him, Novotny is joined by some supremely talented players in this disc that undeniably hold up their weight and make this record the captivating juggernaut that it is. You could even make the case that were it not for the percussive swing in “Ancient Romance,” the track might come off as a little more stock and less urgent in nature. There’s no debating that the pounding bass in “Heart’s Fire” produces all of its southern stylization, and it could also be said that the vocals in “Redemption’s Crying” are just as haunting as the guitars themselves are in any part of the LP.
Passions Collide is a must-hear thrill ride for those of us who live for a solid release from pop, rock, metal, flamenco and jazz alike. Brady Novotny’s latest studio transmissions couldn’t be arriving to us at a better juncture in the history of western music; amidst a lot of uneducated young producers arguing as to whether or not this sample goes with that loop and this synthetic bassline fits with that artificial piano part, he drops the tangible, pushy rock record that serious music fans needed to keep going in these trying times. 2019 is set to be an exciting year for music, and this LP undoubtedly gets it off to an awesome start.