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Tag Archives: Technical Death Metal

Fractal Universe – Engram Of Decline

Fractal Universe - Engram Of Decline
As a reviewer, there are few things as gratifying as seeing a band evolve in a positive way, even more so when you pointed out their weaknesses and predicted great potential in their future while talking about their debut release. Such is the case today, because I’m proud to write about Fractal Universe‘s new full length, Engram Of Decline, which manages to surpass the band’s preceding EP, which was already remarkable, by light years.

In 2015, the quartet had laid a solid foundation with Boundaries Of Reality, which was a ride of finest technical death metal, but there were several minor flaws, especially in the production department: it just didn’t sound as good as it could. Fast forward two years, and you are treated to a sound so crisp that it pierces right through your eardrums and into your brain! But that wasn’t enough for the Frenchmen, since they also stepped up their songwriting game, as well as their musicianship, to a whole new level. The ten songs are so well composed, giving certain passages an almost symphonic, albeit heavy, quality and not a single transition ever feels awkward.

The drums are so tight and accurate that I would not believe that it’s not a drum computer, if I hadn’t seen them play live in the past. The interplay between them and the bass guitar is a real treat, especially in the groovier parts of the songs. Add to that the intricacy and precision of the two other string heroes, and you’ve got a true work of art. It’s also worth noting that the band has taken a daringly experimental step with the inclusion of a saxophone part on the song Backworldsmen, which on top of that is also sung in German!

Speaking of singing: the vocals have also improved both in execution and recording! Possibly due to the increased production value, every line sounds much better enunciated and every scream is another bone-chilling exclamation that drives the lyrics home with force.

While listening to Engram Of Decline for the first few times I couldn’t help but crack a smile, simply because it was so reminiscent of a technical death metal record I absolutely adore: Obscura‘s Cosmogenesis! And if that album was an inspiration for the Fractal Universe guys, I tip my hat to them, because they managed to capture its essence perfectly! You should be the judge yourself, and you can do so on Friday, April 14th, when the record is being released. In the meantime you can whet your appetite by listening to the single below and checking out the band on Facebook.

Decipher – Intuition

Decipher - Intuition

Despite no longer writing as often as I used to, I always try to stay up-to-date when it comes to the local music scene, but I have to admit that the mere existence of today’s band completely eluded me until they contacted me to do some minor videowork for them. Fast forward several months and the release of Decipher‘s debut album, Intuition, is only a couple of days away, which is why I figured I’d end the year with one last pre-release review!

The young quintet has chosen technical death metal to be their playing field and have taken the time since their inception to refine their sound by adding various elements and fine-tuning it to create an interesting take on the genre. While the addition of djenty riffs and atmospheric parts is not an entirely new approach, I feel like the guys are pulling it off without sounding like a re-hash of every other band you’ve heard before.

This is, in my opinion, largely due to the simply remarkable level of musicianship that each member brings to the table. The harmonic interplay between the spot-on drumming and the tight bass lines makes for a solid foundation on which the two guitars battle in tandem of who can play the most intricate riff or the craziest solo. While there is also a healthy dose of chugging, it never feels overly mind-numbing and merely gives you a short breathing pause.

The vocals are the one aspect where I’m not one hundred convinced yet, but still see a ton of potential: the singer has a respectable range and technique, but I feel like for a majority of the parts in the different songs, he chose the wrong one at the wrong time. His main modus operandi are deep growls, that could almost be used in a grindcore band, which made it very hard to understand the lyrics for the most part of these thirty-six minutes. However, in other parts he uses screams or screeches that are fairly well articulated and might have been the wiser choice.

On the other hand, the vocal department also holds the biggest surprise of these seven tracks, in the form of a guest vocal appearance by the local singer Anna Felke on the song Soulbound. While the song is fairly untypical while compared to the rest of the record, it fits in perfectly into the concept of the entirety and, aside from the closing track L’or Bleu, is definitely marks the highlight of Intuition.

In closing, I can only say that I’m convinced that Decipher will manage to make a splash in the local music scene once they start playing shows and get their name out there a bit more. One thing is certain: they don’t lack talent. So do yourself a favor, listen to the track below, check out the band’s Facebook page and head on over to Rocas this Friday, December 16th, for a cozy listening party marking the release of the band’s firstborn.

Sounds Of Fury – Mediocracy

Before listening to today’s album, I came up with a nice little play on words to describe it, in case it was bad…however, despite regretting the lost pun, I am glad to say that Mediocracy is anything but mediocre. As a matter of fact, the new album by Sounds Of Fury actually made me feel really nostalgic and reminded me of the good old days when I enjoyed the hell out of death metal.

The Swiss quartet play classic death metal, with a strong nuance toward the technical kind, that consists of almost incessant blast beats and non-stop double bass work, coupled with truly evil riffs. The technical side is filled by erratic licks as well as crazy-sounding solos, that blend into the grand scheme of the nine tracks quite neatly, thus creating a truly challenging listening experience.

I do have to say that the non-stop barrage of brutality does at times border the monotonous. Then again, at least to me this genre isn’t about necessarily being diverse for diversity’s sake, but rather about creating a tense atmosphere…and that goal is absolutely achieved throughout the thirty-eight minutes.

The only real gripe I have is the fact that the vocals have very little variation to them. At least the one style that is present, growls, is mastered to perfection and often reminded me of a certain man with an inverted cross on his forehead. No, not Charles Manson. A couple of screeches or screams would certainly benefit the ensemble a lot and add an interesting layer to the music.

While they aren’t quite as versatile as their knife counterpart from the same country, Sounds Of Fury are definitely worth checking out, whether you are a fan of bands like Deicide or not, because they deliver where it matters: in your face! If I managed to make you curious, head over to the band’s Facebook page and keep your eyes peeled for the official release on May 25th! Sadly, no song this time since I couldn’t find anything online.

Fractal Universe – Boundaries Of Reality

Today I’m going to write about a fairly new band called Fractal Universe, which is about to release its debut EP Boundaries Of Reality on February 20th. But make no mistake: the quartet is by no means comprised of beginners, quite the contrary. Every single musician is well-experienced and masters his instrument, which makes for an interesting first release.

The crowd-funded record shows the Frenchmen right at home in finest technical death metal, which features a great deal of variety. Be it the wet dream of the guitar-geeks out there in form of intricate riffs and fast-paced drumming on one hand, or the groove-laden palm-muting extravaganza on the other hand…it certainly never gets boring during the twenty-four minutes.

The vocals are always on point, be it in the form of deep growls or desperate screams, and from a technical standpoint they leave nothing to be desired from. There also some experimental vocal effects, such as whispered echoes or distorted lines, giving the entirety a very Gojira-esque feel…which, while nothing new, is always a nice addition, if used correctly such as in this case, in my opinion.

There is one gripe I have with the four tracks however. The production fluctuates heavily between accentuated clear guitars and a sometimes mushy sound. While it doesn’t make Boundaries Of Reality sound terrible, I am convinced that a better mixing would have benefited the record enormously and elevated it to a completely new level of awesomeness.

All in all, Fractal Universe has made a very respectable first step in the music scene, and if they iron out the minor issues, I am sure that their future will be a bright one. In terms of creativity and skill, the guys are definitely set for it. So do yourselves a favor and listen to the song below, and keep an eye on the band’s Facebook page for the release of the full EP!

Arkaeon – Godless

This Sunday it’s finally time, after an almost three year wait, for one of Luxembourg’s most unique metal bands to release a new EP! The guys from Arkaeon took a while to return to the studio, due to some line-up changes over time, and the question is whether Godless was worth the wait…well, just read on.

The quintet plays, what they themselves call, brutal tech groove and even though it’s a made-up genre, it describes their sound perfectly: it has the brutality of hardcore, the technicality of technical death metal and groove that makes even the most avid hater of headbanging bop their head in agreement.

If you compare the three songs on here to the band’s debut EP, New Level Of Inhumanity, you will notice that the skill of the instrumental department has increased vastly, with riffs being so tight and so intricate that even after the umpteenth listening you will discover new details. The drumming is also from a completely different planet: the amount of blast beats and double bass attacks is just incredible. A huge part of the groove comes from, the luckily not dominant, chugging parts and breakdowns…might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it helps to take off some tension of the listener, and the musicians.

The main critique that I’ve heard, from people I’ve talked to about Arkaeon‘s debut, and what also kind of bothered me were the rather monotonous vocals. After having heard the evolution of the vocalist at the 2012 edition of FFYS, I was quite surprised…well, I was even more surprised when I heard this new studio material. He has added several new techniques to his repertoire, one of which is akin to pig squeals but mixed with growls, and in my opinion sounds better than ever. My only minor gripe is that the articulation during the aforementioned growls is suffering a bit…but then again: this is metal…if you want to know all the lyrics, go read them, you lazy bastards!

As a closing statement, I can only say that I’m very pleased with the improvement I’ve heard during these nineteen minutes, and that I’m very much looking forward to the, hopefully, planned full length! You can visit the band’s Facebook page for more information, and check out the lyric video below! Also let it be known that the release party of Godless is this Sunday, May 18th, at Soul Kitchen in Luxembourg!

Scarred – Gaia/Medea

I am very stoked about today’s review, because I have the great privilege to give you an online world premiere of one of the, if not the, most anticipated Luxembourgish metal records in recent times. As you have guessed by the cover, I’m talking about Scarred‘s new album Gaia/Medea. Let me just spoil one thing before I begin: it was very much worth the four year wait! So let’s start, shall we?

First things first: it’s a very thematic album, with the first and the last song building the general concept, so you’ll be able to enjoy a steady progression throughout the ten songs. Without giving away too much, it deals with the end of the world in all of its forms. In comparison to the predecessor New Filth Order, the lyrics are a lot more mature and you can definitely notice a vast improvement.

The guitars are on a whole new level as well, both sound- and technique-wise. Whereas they were already super well executed on album number one, this one puts it all to shame. The amount of ingenuity of the riffs, licks and especially solos is just overwhelming and you will not believe your ears, especially on your first listen-through.

I could almost copy-paste the paragraph about the guitars when it comes to the drums, but that would be a bit boring. The drums are still as much “in your face” as you’re used to, with the addition of an uncountable amount of fills in the most unexpected passages. The sound fits the ensemble perfectly, yet manages to stand out among the sound barrage.

The vocals, which in my opinion were kind of monotonous on NFO, have reached new heights and display a great variation in tone, speed and feature harmonies almost throughout all of the songs…something I dig a lot, personally, since it adds a completely new dimension to these sixty-two minutes.

Next up is something I usually don’t do, but since this is one of my personal highlights this year, I will do a song-by-song breakdown of the album. Don’t worry, it won’t be too long!

The opener, Gaia, starts off with an atmospheric intro before unleashing hell on your eardrums. Coupled with a rather melodic chorus, it’s the perfect prelude to what awaits you.

Next up is Cinder, which I predict to be the new headbang anthem at upcoming Scarred shows. This groove-laden masterpiece features one of my favorite riffs on the entire album, as well as one of the sing-along-friendliest choruses you will find. The drums stand out as well, since they’re filled with nasty little fills left and right. Trust me when I tell you that you won’t be able to restrain yourself from bopping your head to this one.

The Great Pan(dem)ic starts in a rather progressive vain, proceeds to simply go balls to the walls with almost no chance for breath and finishes you off with a groove invasion.

The next song, Psychogenesis, is the first one to show a very different side of the record. Even though the following statement isn’t exactly correct, it feels to me like a black metal song in some spots, with the chorus describing that feeling the best.

Low is probably the most straight-forward song, and there’s not much I can say about it except that the last minute is purely eargasmic, definitely listen to that one carefully.

Mosaic is the guitar-geek song, no doubt about that one. Riff after riff, solo after solo, lick after lick…there’s no end to this one’s potential for bloody fingers of people who want to play along.

Next comes Idiosyncrasy, the metal-duet featuring Boerdi of Kraton and Dreadnought. The guy’s become such an omnipresent figure in the Luxembourgish metal scene that I would have almost been pissed if they got someone else instead of him. The song starts off with a really crushing riff, that is among the heaviest of the record, and transcends into a more progressive vibe about half-way through and ends with a fading-in intro of the next song.

Said intro is just too much for me to put into words. Essentially it’s nothing super complicated but the guitar (yes) tone they achieved here is just so uplifting and the perfect preface to easily my favorite song on the record: The Knot. I won’t go too much into this one since I want you to make up your own mind about it and tell me if you share my enthusiasm. If you don’t, then there’s at least the phenomenal guest-solo of Atilla Vörös, of Nevermore, for you to enjoy.

The ninth song, Empire Of Dirt, is also part of the straight-forward camp but it features a lot of groove in several parts as well as super-fast solos.

The final song, Medea, is almost twelve minutes in length…yet not boring. There’s so much variation, starting with an almost “happy” part then going into sheer heaviness before ending with an instrumental reprise of the first notes of the album. Also noteworthy: this one wins the lyric trophy for its purely epic story.

This sums up my review of Gaia/Medea, and to keep things short I’ll just say: if you don’t have this masterpiece on your shelf when it comes out…you’re missing out big time. In my opinion, the Luxembourgish quintet has managed to put every local metal record that has been released in the past decade to shame. …I might be exaggerating slightly, but decide for yourself once you’ve heard it. You can keep up with the band’s future plans on their Facebook page and listen to the exclusive new song below. And most of all: do not miss the release party of the album, which will happen on June 1st at the Kulturfabrik in Esch!