Tech Death Thursday: First Fragment – Dasein
After six long years, the Canadian neoclassical shredders are back with their first full album! Make sure your face’s last will and testament is up to date, because it’s about to get melted straight off.
Some news to warm you up first:
- Defeated Sanity have a new song from the Dharmata side of their upcoming self-split, and it fucking destroys. “At One With Wrath” sounds like a long-lost artifact of early 90’s progressive death metal in the absolute best way. Don’t skip it.
- Relative newcomers Onomasy have released “The Memory of the Reaper,” a new song from their upcoming album, Ashes and Dust. It’s nothing particularly groundbreaking, but it’s a solid track nonetheless. Look for Ashes and Dust on May 20th.
- I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been impatiently waiting for word of a new Origin album. While there’s still nothing on the horizon, you can sate that hunger for awhile with this new EP from The Malice, which bears more than passing resemblance to the former. It’s not quite as off-the-rails as Origin, but it’s very much in the same vein.
- On the complete opposite end of the tech spectrum (“techtrum” for short), Apotheon released a new EP that sounds a bit like what a band like Periphery or Intervals would sound like as a tech death band. Also, it has parts that sound like they’re straight out of a Mega Man X game, which I’m more than okay with.
- Orphalis have a new album on the way, and their description has me intrigued. Apparently this new release will have as much in common with Spawn of Possession as it will with Gorguts and Deathspell Omega. “The Atavistic Tide” isn’t terribly indicative of that influence, but it sounds like the full thing will be solid regardless. The Birth of Infinity is out on July 12th.
- Sometimes, you need tech with a little more groove than shred. For those occasions, we have The Schoenberg Automaton, who have a new song streaming from the forthcoming Apus. Look for it on June 3rd.
OH HEY GORGUTS STREAM
It has been far too long since First Fragment graced us with new music. Their debut EP, covered here by the venerable St. Bauer, came out in 2010. With scant updates in the interim between albums and a couple long delays in the past year, it seemed that a new album would never arrive. Finally we were given a new song last month, and now the full release is right around the corner. Let me tell you: it was totally worth the wait.
Dasein wastes no time, opening with the blistering “Le Serment De Tsion” and setting the stage for the album as a whole. This first track will give you a clear picture of what you’re getting into on this album. The guitar duo of Phil Tougas (of Chthe’ilist, Serocs, and Zealotry infamy) and Gabriel Brault-Pilon are front-and-center throughout. The virtuosity of these two is incredible, but the music isn’t simply about how many BPM they hit per song; the writing is easily on par with the playing. No note is wasted here, with gorgeous hooks and melodic (if not necessarily rhythmic) counterpoint abounding. The solos are absolutely phenomenal, too; it’s rare for soloing to do anything more than provide a cool showcase for the lead guitarist, but in this instance, it actually elevates the music. It’s one thing to write a solo that fits the music, but it’s another thing entirely to be able to capture the essence of a whole song within one.
While the guitarists are impressive, the rest of the band aren’t exactly slouches, either. Drummer Troy Fullerton (Severed Savior), when not laying down wave after wave of high-speed blastbeats, puts out some fantastic grooves and complex beats. The bassist gets a couple moments to shine forth as well; he goes toe-to-toe with the formidable guitar duo in each song and keeps pace, taking a solo on the title track and classicaly-influenced song “Prélude En Sol Dièse Mineur” as well. The vocal performance is the icing on the cake, spitting each line in a raw snarl. His voice sounds truly ragged in some parts, particularly when you hear him on his own, making for a nice change of pace from the usual tech death fare. Each musician is fantastic in their own right, and they’re brought together in one intense package.
However, that same intensity is probably their only shortcoming. The music reaches and occasionally surpasses Archspire levels of speed and intensity (seriously, closer “Evhron” has the fastest/longest gravity blast I’ve ever heard), but it creates a lack of variety when they’re constantly blazing through songs at maximum speed. There are a couple welcome breaks present in the form of Spanish guitar pieces and swing interludes in a couple tunes, but there are a lot of segments in the same key at the same tempo that could easily be part of the same song. That said, the song “Archétype” is probably the strongest tech death tune by a band not called Obscura that I’ve heard this year, due in no small part to its variety. The band is at their strongest, when they’re playing with time signatures and different feelings within the same song. I hope to hear more of that from the band in the future, because they’re damn good at it.
Dasein brings to the table exactly the kind of music most people will think of when they hear the term “tech death.” It’s incredibly fast, very dense, and almost exhausting to listen to. It’s the type of album that’s unlikely to convert any new fans, but will carry universal appeal to anyone invested in the genre. I love it for its entirely uncompromising nature, but I understand there are those who will hate it for the same reason; because of that, I give it:
4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
First Fragment can be found on Facebook; swing by and tell them the Toilet says hello. Dasein will be out on May 20th through Unique Leader Records and can be preordered right here. That’s all for now, my fellow Toileteers. Until next time,
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