The Zenith Passage – Datalysium (Album Review)

The Zenith Passage – Datalysium
Released: July 21st, 2023

Line Up:

Justin McKinney // Guitars/Vocals/Keyboards
Christopher Beattie // Guitars
Brandon Giffin // Bass
Derek Rydquist // Vocals

The Zenith Passage online:


We’re halfway through 2023 and the big releases in the world of metal are seriously beginning to stack up. Seven years removed from their debut Solipsist, The Zenith Passage’s sophomore full length Datalysium has finally arrived, along with a completely revamped band lineup. With founding member/guitarist/clean vocalist/keyboardist Justin McKinney’s 2021 inspired enlisting of his fellow ex-The Faceless members, Brandon Giffin (bass) and vocalist Derek Rydquist, The Zenith Passage are arguably at the top of their game with their stunning new album, Datalysium.

Their first release with the legendary Metal Blade Records, Datalysium is a meticulously thought out, career high point for the LA act. ‘The Axiom of Error’ is a fantastic intro track; a sub-three-minute blast with a wicked groove beneath a tapping-filled guitar solo. It moves seamlessly into ‘Algorithmic Salvation’ and the following ‘Lexicontagion’. Perfect choices for previews, these two songs capture everything that’s great about Datalysium; from the laser-focused musicianship of the former to the dynamic shifts of the latter. The more direct, instantly grabbing material is at the front end of the album, while the more expansive, progressive work fills the second half.

The amount of keyboards on Datalysium is somewhat surprising, but it works – the middle number ‘Deletion Cult’, aforementioned ‘Lexicontagion’ and the LP highlight ‘Synaptic Depravation’ are soaked in them, adding another layer to their sound, and to the general prog-vibes. Derek Rydquist – who hasn’t been super active since his days in The Faceless – sounds fantastic, his throaty, low growls (think death metal-era Mikael Akerfeldt) having not lost an ounce of fire. Justin McKinney is a fantastic, under-heralded guitarist. Not only an uber-tight rhythm player, but his tasteful, liquid-smooth leads are songs-within-songs, lifting the compositions.

Dave Otero and Ryan Williams’ production is absolutely perfect. Airtight, crisp, clean and far from dominating – the guitars are relatively lightly distorted, giving plenty of room for Brandon Giffin’s fantastic bass lines. Datalysium closes with it’s two most impressive compositions ‘Automated Twilight’ and the excellent title tune. The duo sees The Zenith Passage push out every aspect of their sound – clean vocals, keyboards, odd-time signatures, soaring leads – it’s all here on the tremendous finale.

Though the cat was already out of the bag that this album was going to be awesome – four of it’s nine cuts having dropped as previews – Datalysium is basically a faultless release. It will no doubt be loved by fans of the progressive and technical end of death metal – however Datalysium is also a fantastic introduction to this style of modern heavy music. All the elements of the sub-genre are on full display, yet extremely well balanced, with not one aspect overwhelming another. Though The Zenith Passage fans may have had to wait over seven years for it, Datalyisium houses the strongest material of their career, and is effortlessly in the running for progressive death metal record of 2023.

The Zenith Passage – Datalysium tracklisting

  1. The Axiom of Error
  2. Algorithmic Salvation
  3. Lexicontagion
  4. Synaptic Depravation
  5. Deletion Cult
  6. Divinertia I
  7. Divinertia II
  8. Automated Twilight
  9. Datalysium

Rating: 9/10
Datalysium is out July 21st on Metal Blade Records. Order here
Review By – Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper