Category Archives: Full-Length Albums

First Fragment’s “Dasein” — A Long-Awaited Album That Does Not Disappoint

 

First Fragment: Dasein (2016)

firstfragment

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Track Listing:

“Le Serment de Tsion”
“Dasein”
“L’Entite”
“Emergence”
“Mordetre Et Denassaince”
“Prelude En Sol Diese Mineur”
“Archetype”
“Gula”
“Voracite (Apothe”ose Partie 1)”
“Psychan (Apotheose Partie 2)”
“Evhron”

Band Members:
Vincent Savary: Bass
David AB : Lead Vocals
Phil Tougas : Lead Guitar & Vocals
Gabriel Brault-Pilon: Guitar
Samuel Santiago: Drums
Troy Fullerton: Session Drums (2014-2015) (Performed all drums on Dasein)
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The highly-anticipated full-length release from First Fragment has at last been released by Unique Leader records.  True to form, Dasein does not disappoint; in fact, the album is a ferocious display of superb songwriting, and utterly insane musical prowess.  With a dramatically improved sound in comparison to the band’s first full-length album and debut EP, First Fragment utilizes a virtually perfect production environment to deliver savage, mind-bending, and technically impressive death metal album.

MetalAteMyBabyy Album Rating:

Vocals: First Fragment frontman David has a powerful mid-level growl that generally complements the music playing behind him.  Some variation–such as the inclusion of highs and guttural lows–would further both the music and the singer’s command of the types of shrieks and rumbling lows present in other technical death metal releases  (7/10)

Lyrics: Though in French, First Fragment’s lyrics illustrate a level of dedication to meaningful and revealing storytelling that position the album as a singular and thought-provoking story  (7/10)

Lead guitar: Intentional or not, Phil’s lead guitar is the star of this album.  Driving, pulsating riffs and remarkably melodic solos demonstrate Phil’s ability to weave brutality with gut-wrenching melodic passages–an element missing in so many technical death metal albums  (10/10)

Rhythm guitar: Often overlooked on monster releases such as Dasein, the rhythm guitar is an integral component of any masterfully composed album.  Gabriel handles rhythm guitar duties flawlessly, providing the bone-crushing backbone of each First Fragment song and harmonizing with Phil’s beautiful leads  (9/10)

Bass: Simply put, the bass guitar brutality of Dasein is precisely how this instrument should be showcased by every technical death metal band.  Vincent deserves significant recognition for both his command of the bass guitar and his ability to utilize the bass perfectly to underscore the chaos that is First Fragment’s third album  (10/10)

Drums: No technical death metal album is capable of achieving the sheer brilliance of an album such as Dasein without a ferociously aggressive drummer.  To be sure, Troy–the band’s session drummer–not only meets the inherent requirements of technical death metal drumming, he obliterates them.  Never overdoing it, Troy serves as conductor of sorts for First Fragment, and his selective use of double bass, his knack for expertly composed fills, and his overall synergy with the band is a pleasure to behold  (9/10)

Technicality: Any commentary would be superfluous  (10/10)

Originality: The one element absent from many otherwise enjoyable technical death metal releases is originality.  The technical prowess is there, to be sure, but little variation exists from track to track.  First Fragment’s latest release obliterates this stereotype, with melodic guitar harmonies leading into extended bass solos, Spanish-inspired guitar segments beautifully slowing the otherwise frenetic pace of the album, and a plethora of other musically diverse elements that set Dasein apart from other technical death metal releases (10/10)

Diversity: See the Originality commentary above (10/10)

Cohesiveness: So many technical death metal albums feature individual tracks that wow the listener–but, unfortunately, the albums as a whole lack a solid, consistent narrative that is present in each and every album track.  Each track on Dasein is brilliant, but, more impressively, each track folds effortlessly into a larger narrative that makes First Fragment’s 2016 release a cohesive, consistent, and ultimately brilliant album (10/10)

Summary:

Dasein is already in the running for the most impressive release of 2016.  Unique Leader Records also deserves credit for making the release of such albums possible.  In a nutshell: buy this album, support the band, and prepare to be blown away by one of the finest technical death metal releases in recent memory.

Total Rating: 92/100

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[Time Capsule] A Review of Nothgard’s “Warhorns of Midgard”–Five Years Later, and Every Bit As Good as the Day of Its Release

Melodic Viking death metal masters Nothgard are alive and well in 2016, having produced a number of superb albums over the past decade.  And while each album is worth owning, it is the band’s 2011 masterpiece Warhorns of Midgard that has best stood the test of time as a near-perfect execution of the pagan-themed metal many extreme metal fans have come to recognize as a fusion of modern, crushing metal, complete with harmonized guitar leads, the incorporation of folkish elements, and intelligent lyrics and song titles that reinforce the mythically thematic elements woven into each one of Warhorns of Midgard’s tracks.

Album Details

Track Listing

Cover Art

  1. Lex Talionis
  2. Arminius
  3. Under the Serpent Sign
  4. Einherjer
  5. Shadows Arise
  6. Blackened Sky
  7. Victory
  8. Warhorns of Midgard
  9. Spirit
  10. Ancient Heritage / Modern Warriors
  11. Rise After Falling
  12. Ragnarok
midgardListen to the full-length album here!

Over the past 15 years, the sub-genre of Viking-themed metal has grown exponentially, meaning there is no shortage of technically adept musicians seeking to honor the glory of the conquests led by Scandinavian explorers from the 8th through the 13th centuries.  All too often for fans of extreme metal, however, such records emphasize the folkish elements of pagan metal while sacrificing the speed and brutality that not only conjures the power of the AEsir but also provides the aggression and fearlessness of the fearless Norsemen who sailed around the world to discover and conquer.

Fortunately, Nothgard delivers both the folkish and the brutal in equal parts, making for a thoroughly enjoyable, motivating, and respectful tribute to those who came before us and risked everything to discover new lands for both plunder and settlement.  Simply put, Warhorns of Midgard does not let up from start fo finish, and each song offers a unique variation on the pagan metal formula.

As readers of MetalAteMyBaby.com know, only individual songs thus far have been rated according to a formal and numeric system.  Nothgard’s masterpiece will be the first full-length effort to be evaluated in a similar fashion, though, with this being a test run, the categories and rating system may seem crude and are subject to change moving forward.

As this is MAMB’s first attempt at formally quantifying the merits of an album, the categories may seem somewhat abstract–and perhaps even unrelated to one another.

Sheer Epicness: Viking metal is inherently epic, given that the music provides an exhilarating soundtrack for lyrics detailing the heroic exploits of our Scandinavian forefathers.  The galloping pace of Nothgard’s double-bass driven attack alone supplies an epic foundation for the rest of the band’s instrumentation, while twin lead guitars further play on the primitive instincts that lay dormant in every man and woman of Nordic decent.  (9/10)

Technicality: The elite pagan metal bands are as technically accomplished as many bands identifying as technical death metal outfits.  To be sure, Nothgard dispenses with erratic, unpredictable time changes and overly syncopated drum beats–and yet, ultimately, this restraint makes Warhorns of Midgard that much more listenable.  The technical prowess is there, to be sure, but it serves the thematic message of the music instead of overshadowing it.  (8/10)

Thematic ExcellenceThe cohesiveness of the thematic message featured on Warhorns of Midgard truly sets Nothgard apart from their talented counterparts within the pagan metal genre of extreme metal.  For example, the album’s second track, “Arminius,” tells the story of the titular character and his efforts to unite his clan in pursuit of freedom and happiness.  Two songs later, “Einherjer” recounts–in German–the inevitable consequences of taking up the sword and heading to battle.  Following an instrumental track, the second half of the album probes further into the choices, sacrifices, and consequences of living and dying by the sword, culminating with the album’s final track, “Ragnarok,” which, of course, reminds the listener that the pagan end of the world means “[T]he end of all / no one to escape.”  (10/10)

[Author’s note: Until MetalAteMyBaby.com finalizes the remainder of the rating system, Warhorns of Midgard and subsequent albums will be rated on a scale of one to 30.]

Total: 27/30

As mentioned, Nothgard is alive and well and continues to produce music well worth owning.  If you’ve never listened to this immensely talented band, start with Warhorns of Midgard.  You’ll become a fan upon your first listen.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nothgard/
Website: http://www.nothgard.de/

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Deflect the Flow (2015) – Italian Thrash That Screams “Come and Get One In the Yarbles!”

Ultra-Violence’s sophomore effort, Deflect the Flow, is a prime example of the quality metal that is being created in Italy at this time. In this particular case, it is exquisite thrash. The first track, “Burning Through the Scars,” busts out of the gate like a crazed thoroughbred horse looking to claim the Triple Crown. The pace doesn’t let up until the final note is played and you are left wanting more. The remaining nine tracks come at you hard and fast, with the exception of a mid-tempo number called “Bang the Gavel” and a short instrumental interlude mid-way through the album.

To be honest, the only reason I clicked on this album on YouTube was due to the cover art. I am a die-hard fan of the film version of A Clockwork Orange and found myself instantly drawn to this album. In fact, I could not bring myself not to click on the image of Alex and his Droogs crammed into the ultra-violence-deflect-the-flow-2015Durango 95. All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed what I found once I arrived. Aside from the obvious visual reference to A Clockwork Orange, the Death Angel album The Ultra-Violence should also be cited. Even if it is not a direct reference to the band’s name, it ties together in the grand scheme of all things thrash. The lyric content of the songs is not directly related to A Clockwork Orange, but like most thrash albums, the themes of anti-establishment, anti-government, anti-etc., reign supreme. The second track on the album, “Why So Serious?” is a direct tribute to Joker from The Dark Knight and all of the lyrics are dialogue taken directly from the character in the film.

Loris Castiglia’s snarling vocal style is reminiscent of Megadeth, but make no mistake, these guys are no copy cats. When watching the official video for their song “The Way I’ll Stay”, you can see the band literally wears their influences on their chests. T-shirts from Destruction, Overkill, Testament, and Anthrax are worn with pride to let us know they’ve done their homework. They borrow from all the great thrash bands without being trite or repetitive, owning each song with their finely tuned sound and tight compositions. Loris does double duty by also contributing as rhythm guitarist. He and lead guitarist Andrea Vacchiotti set a blistering pace that is deftly matched by the grounding of bassist Roberto “Robba” Dimasi and drummer Simone Verre. Andrea’s solos don’t feel wedged in and complement the songs as a whole. Many of the songs contain the obligatory backing vocal chants that are a thrash mainstay, but the effect does not come off cheesy at all since they respect the roots of the genre in crafting their songs. Their cover of Venom’s “Burn the Witch” is a keeper. The only thing I have left to say is I can’t wait to hear their next album.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ultraviolencemetal

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ultraviolencemetal

Merchandise: http://ultraviolencemetal.bigcartel.com/

– Ben

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Clear Intentions: “Primordial” an Early Candidate for Full-Length of the Year

Released the first week of the new year, Shadow of Intent’s Primordial is already vying for consideration as the most impressive metal release of 2016.  While the band identifies itself as “symphonic deathcore,” Shadow of Intent’s music demonstrates far more complexity, technicality, and cohesiveness than readers might otherwise normally associate with a deathcore release.  A two-man project featuring Ben Duerr on vocals and with Chris Wiseman handling all guitar and programming duties, Primordial is an impressive, multifaceted record with solid roots in the melodic aspects of metal that often make such music so appealing.

With 10 tracks comprising almost 53 minutes of technical, melodic music, the lyrical themes of Primordial will also be familiar to fans of the Halo video game franchise that has long anchored Microsoft’s XBox console.  While other metal bands have authored music centered around the Halo backstory, none has thus far matched the way in which Shadow of Intent molds these themes into memorable songs that require repeated playback to fully appreciate.

Furthermore, although symphonic introductions to extreme metal releases have become virtually ubiquitous, Primordial‘s first track, “The shadowofintentPrelude to Bereavement,” sets the stage for a decidedly symphonic, musically diverse album.  Thirty-five seconds into this opening track, Chris’ wailing guitars begin adding dimension to the song with an agonizing, almost black metal-esque riff that creates a hauntingly melodic foundation built upon seconds later by Ben’s tormented screams.  “The Prelude to Bereavement” also features the first of many so-called “breakdowns” featured throughout the album.  (“Breakdowns” is placed within quotation marks because Shadow of Intent’s interludes are far more refined and melodic than what most would commonly expect when extreme metal slows to a slamming pause.)  Indeed, this is not chug-core; the “breakdowns” on Primordial fit within the context of each song and the album as a whole, and include extraordinary musicianship while maintaining the brutality you’d expect from such a monstrous release.

Primordial‘s fourth track opens with a series of melodic arpeggios before giving way to guest vocals contributed by Dan Watson of Enterprise Earth.  In fact, “The Cosmic Inquisitor” is representative of the album as a whole, with a galloping pace driving each verse and harmonic guitar passages defining the transitions and chorus.  Again, the “breakdowns” that diversify this fourth track’s pace and enhance the inherent aggression of the song are much more eloquently composed than most deathcore compositions.  Ultimately, “The Cosmic Inquisitor” closes with a beautifully arranged guitar lead and menacing spoken-word passage that then gives way to more meldodic guitar brilliance.

An album this expertly composed, recorded, and mixed with such precision and instrumental mastery begs only one question: What, if anything, is there to criticize?  With Shadow of Intent being a two-man effort, the drums are necessarily programmed, something some fans of extreme metal treat with disdain.  That said, while the programmed drums occassionally showcase double-bass drum lines that ripple so fast through the music that some sense of realism may seem compromised, the sampled drum contributions on Primordial otherwise compliment the “human” elements recorded by Ben and Chris.

The aforementioned musicians have legitimately planted a flag on the 2016 extreme metal landscape, and it will be enjoyable to see which bands challenge Primordial for consideration in this year’s album of 2016 running.  The full album is included below, but be sure to visit the band’s BigCartel page to support the efforts of these talented composers, and follow them on Facebook and BandsinTown to be notified when they’ll be playing at a venue near you.

Merchandise: http://shadowofintent.bigcartel.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShadowofIntentCT
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTXC0W1gKzpXG28CPzGVcw/

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#StayTech: Defining a Genre with Canada’s Archspire

There’s a running joke within the metal community that, to be a successful technical death metal band, the following checklist must be met in its entirety:

  • Supernatural album cover art
  • Lyrical themes detailing mankind’s war with alien life forms
  • A tempo of at least 260 beats per minute (BPM) in each song
  • Triggered–and, therefore, absurdly synthetic-sounding–double-bass drum work
  • Guitar complexity verging on onanism

Alas, there are bands within the genre that more than meet the criteria for essentially being a caricture of what a technical death metal outfit archspiretruly should be.  That said, there are also a number of bands that legitimately blow your mind through a fusion of impossibly complex musicianship and surprisingly existential lyrics.  Archspire, to be sure, is one such band.

Part of Archspire’s appeal is the band’s decision to embrace its identity as a formative influence within the technical death metal scene.  Indeed, the band regularly tags its social media posts with #StayTech, and Oliver–Archspire’s vocalist–has been known to command frenzied live audiences to “form a triangle pit,” a mathematically-inspired, humorous satire of a metal concert staple, the circle pit.

Most importantly, the Canadian quintet’s sophomore release–2014’s The Lucid Collective–makes a compelling bid to bear the torch for the technical death metal genre as a whole.  Over the course of 34 mind-bending minutes, Archspire embodies everything right about the genre to which the band belongs.  Guitarists Dean and Tobi unleash a surprisingly harmonic cacophony with eight- and seven-string guitars, respectively.  The electric fury on the fret board is more than just unadulterated speed, though make no mistake–these fellas can fly.  Satisfyingly, the raw aggression of such a breakneck tempo is expertly balanced by melodic guitar leads in each of the album’s tracks, providing an additional depth and feel often missing from insanely fast metal compositions.

Spencer, the band’s bass guitarist, is given ample opportunity to shine, with his instrument pleasingly audible and his fingers obviously nimble.  Of course, Archspire’s brilliance is fundamentally driven by the drumming prowess of Chris, whose gravity blasts on a beautifully-tuned snare drum further pummel the listener’s ears while his double-bass footwork nearly makes one’s body shake.

The aforementioned Oliver utilizes a unique and rarely-encountered vocal technique–half bark, half rap, yet extremely intelligible and matched perfectly to the fury of the music behind him.  Furthermore, his lyrics offer a refreshing take on many of the dilemmas of our existence.  From the song “The Plague of Am”:

[Cogito ergo sum -I think therefore I AM.]

One hundred and nine years,
Trapped within the belly of the supreme machine.
Only us five left.
Made immortal, kept alive, suspending time to torture us.
Trapped down here, we’re slaves inside AM.
A deranged neo-cyber god that man created
Has become more alive then we are.

I have no mouth and I must…
(The plague of AM.)

Lifeless and drained of blood,
Suspended high above,
An empty body hangs,
Taunting us, teasing us.
We have become meaningless.
He will not finish us.
AM will not tolerate attempts at escape.

We gave to him life; for that he despises us.
In his wake, only the blasted skin of what had once been Earth.
As we rummage through the valleys in search of food for eons
Our every fear comes to life in AM.
The torments AM casts upon us for his pleasure
Are more alive than we are.

From the standpoint of mere technical complexity, The Lucid Collective is as impressive as modern extreme metal gets.  And yet, it is Archspire’s uniqueness, the band’s decision to stray from the technical death metal boilerplate by including frequent guitar leads and deploying a deceptively difficult, entirely unique vocal style that makes the Canada five-piece outfit so emblematic of a genre often mired in unintentional self-parody.  They’ve got talent in spades, but it’s the catchy nature of Archspire’s music and its potential for multiple repeat listenings that truly sets the band apart.

Bands so immensely talented deserve your support, so be sure to support the band by purchasing The Lucid Collective or Archspire apparel from the group’s online store.  Furthermore, follow the band on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel.  And, of course, #StayTech.

 

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