This is the fourth album of a group whose musical career spans more than fifteen years and whose line-up is in Canada and in the UK. It took the group four years to make this 11 track, 46-minute long album. The evolution of the group, as well as the making of their latest album, is well captured in the 26-minute long “IT Story” documentary on the companion DVD. Three tracks that were considered for the album appear as the 17-minute long Trauma EP on the companion DVD.
“God Is Dead” is a lyrically aggressive pop-funky anthem about alienation. The title track blends balladesque and heaviness. It is probably the perfect illustration of the collision between two musical worlds (mastermind Nick Jackson’s psychedelic-spacey work and guitarist Andy Rowberry’s leaning towards metal) that Nick Jackson refers to in the documentary. “Killing Me” is a pop-heavy hit whose video is included in the companion DVD. It has some nice work by keyboardist Rob Archibald but it also shows an early sign of warning for what follows on “Fighting for Freedom” and “Burn Part 2”: the insertion of an easily recognizable political speech that clashes with the overall feeling of the song. “Car Crash” follows in the same vein, albeit even a bit heavier.
“Fighting for Freedom” is probably the best track on the album. It sounds as if played by a heavier Supertramp. It is also another good example of the collision between Nick Jackson’s and Andy Rowberry’s musical approaches. Surprisingly, bassist Craig West does a guitar solo coda. “Burn Part 1” flirts with rock’n’roll, whereas “Burn Part 2” is a heavy march.
The oriental-leaning “Safe” is my second favorite. It could have been even the first if it hadn’t had that chorus. James Dunn on bass and Ben Piner on drums are remarkable here. But at this point one also gets tired of hearing Dubya’s voice again. “Standback Part 1” has some superb guitar work that is reprised on keyboards in “Standback Part 2”, somewhat reminding of Genesis “Fountain of Salmacis”. “Disappear” is my third favorite and perhaps the most proggy track on the album. Quiet moments alternate with parts in which all the instruments build tension. Of the Trauma EP, I’m surprised Craig West’s compositions “Time and Place” and “Taking on Sand” didn’t make it on the album. I liked them more than Nick Jackson’s “Underfire”.
The companion DVD also includes 30 minutes of a concert from 2007 at Algoma University (in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) and a 4-minute slideshow from the same event. It shows how the band was evolving during the making of this album.
Obviously, Departure is an anti-war manifesto. If you can take that and if you’re into Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, or Rush, you will like it.