At this point, I think it would be fair to call Melodeath a classic sound with a rich history. Many bands have exploded from this approach and have inspired countless more. Names like At The Gates, In Flames, Carcass, Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis, and Insomnium spring to mind among seemingly countless others. Most of these bands have been around for almost 30 years (if not more)! They’ve all respectively crafted and advanced the sound in different, notable ways.
Now, there’s a newer generation of Melodeath bands making their own marks. Some of my favorites would have to be the very recent Aerith, the considerably less recent Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, The Black Dahlia Murder, Bloodshot Dawn, the comedic twist of Dethklok, Countless Skies, and the subject of today’s discussion – Fractal Gates!
I first found this band after spotting their “Beyond the Self” album stream over on YouTube some years back. I remember being quite impressed while letting it play through from start to finish. Admittedly, it’s been a few years since my ears and “Beyond the Self” have last crossed paths but the impression was certainly left!
So, upon hearing that Fractal Gates were up to launching a new album, it pleased me to have had the opportunity to share some of their latest work with you right here on The Circle Pit! You can check out the lyric videos for “Chasing The Line” and “Faceless” down below! These were crafted in support of the aforementioned new album which is more formally known as “The Light That Shines”!
It should be noted that this new LP will officially see the light of day with its release on May 12th this year! This is being done through the good people at Rain Without End Records. Pre-orders are currently available to all those who head over to the official Fractal Gates Bandcamp page! It’s highly recommended that all fans of the sub-genre at least give this one a spin when the time comes next week! It’s well worth the experience! In the meantime, the two mentioned singles serve as a wonderful appetizer.
The band is comprised of five key members being guitarist / composer Stéphane Peudupin (Ex Inborn Suffering, Ex Lethian Dreams, Ningizzia), vocalist / synth / composer Sébastien Pierre (Cold Insight, Enshine, Ex Inborn Suffering, Ex Lethian Dreams), guitarist Arnaud Hoarau, bassist Antoine Verdier, and drummer Jeremy Briquet. There’s an abundance of talent at every station so, naturally, their combined musical prowess is deadly. It shows with radiance through the exhibition of “The Light That Shines”!
An eerie light casts through “Visions X” as a means of beginning this album. This atmosphere rises up into a Melodic Death impact with the turn of the first full track “Breath of Life”. Slow exhales release before growls roll in on top of well-placed riffs and other forms of musical intensity! All in all, this duo of starter tracks work hand in hand as a compelling introduction to “The Light That Shines”! They give a good, accurate idea of what to expect throughout the listening experience. “Breath of Life” displays the more metal side of things while “Visions X” is the first part to a trio of atmospheric, electronic interludes and a good peek of those elements on other tracks as well. It’s safe to expect great melodeath riffs, strong songwriting, large atmospheres, driving vox, and good times aboard this train!
It should also be noted that the “Visions” series is a continuation of what was found on the previous albums. It started with the very first track of the 2009 effort “Altered State Of Consciousness” and continued with 2013’s “Beyond the Self”. This is all before landing on “The Light That Shines” today – nearly 10 years later! The whole concept is epic to say the very least!
There are plenty of strong numbers to be found among the 13 entries on this album. I would be hard-pressed to say there are any weak links unless a listener happens to be repelled by this style of music or the interludes working as bookends. Personally, I found my run throughs of this track list to be quite enjoyable! Intro tracks aside, entries like “Arise” with a sweet Benjamin Ellis (Scar Symmetry, ex-Bloodshot Dawn) solo, the title track, “Infinity”, “Reborn”, “Sea of Flames” and the singles “Chasing the Line” & “Faceless” come to mind but I wouldn’t stop there by any means. It’s recommended that listeners start from the top and take in the whole album as there seems to be a certain order of events at play with every segment being a well thought out piece of the puzzle.
Probably my primary criticism of this record would be its consistency which is both a strength and a weakness dependent on the ear of the beholder. That’s to say this is certainly a straight up Melodic Death Metal record that doesn’t stray far from the path while simultaneously playing to its strengths. So, if the idea of ~45 minutes on this path without much variety doesn’t appeal to you, walk away. If it does… mazel tov! You’ve come to exactly the right place! There are also plenty of apparent influences worn on the sleeve here – Scar Symmetry especially comes to mind at points (which is fitting given that guest solo!).
Production wise, this also a solid effort. It has all the warmth and clarity of a good Melodic Death Metal record so I have to give the thumbs up. Dan Swanö did a good job over at Unisound AB with the mix and master.
When it’s all said and done, the experience comes to close between an exhale and white noise before a sudden drop into silence following “Visions XII”. This is the part when my mind begins to re-gather the finer points of this experience. In the end, this one gets an 8 out of 10. It’s excellent and highly focused within its own lane and I have to respect that following the storm of head banging damn near from start to finish. Should be interesting to see where the band picks up when we get to hear “Visions XIII” years down the line!
Once again! Keep in mind this one officially hits on May 12th with pre-orders currently available to those who would CLICK HERE. You can scope out some music for yourself through that link and the YouTube videos provided above. You can also dig in deeper and give these guys a well-deserved follow over on Facebook! Furthermore, these guys have other records and are in a wealth of other bands / projects you should listen to! So much great content – so little time! Enjoy!
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