Review Summary: Shifting into more death-metal territory, with a mix of fast and slow songs breaks the monotone pattern the band has established in the past few albums.
Graveworm have never quite acquired mainstream success, despite bearing strong resemblance to more commercially successful acts such as Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. Their first albums are generally hailed as the highlight of their career, while the more recent style has brought new listeners into the equation, yet not enough to truly stand out. There have always been factors against the overall enjoyment for the last couple of albums, the most detrimental being the repetitiveness. While Fragments of Death doesn't completely solve the issue, it has interesting ways to address it without venturing too far into unknown territories.
Graveworm’s latest work continues the trend from 2005's (N)utopia, carrying the same style the band has kept for the last 3 albums. The music is still very guitar-centric and draws most of the attention, along with Stefan’s vocals. The vocal style used is mainly two types, a heavier more guttural death metal-like style and a higher-pitched, raspier black metal one. Very similar to what the band has produced in the past, except the guttural vocals have much more presence here than in other albums.
While there is a lot of focus on heaviness, the songs carry considerably less atmosphere than their early albums. However, the style has many memorable moments and Fragments of Death has introduced more variety than Diabolical Figures or Collateral Defect, which both had fair amounts of repetition. There is a significant amount of heaviness in the riffs and fast paced songs, but there is also a mix with more melodic songs, such as Absence of Faith and See No Future, which becomes much more enjoyable after stagnation. These songs not only make the album more dynamic, but also much more pleasant. There is still some atmosphere present, but not nearly in the same way they had done before. The World Will Die in Flames has a style closer to death/doom, and is able to hold on to more than just its own weight, being the highlight of the album. The heavier, more straight-forward songs, while entertaining in small quantities, do become boring when there is too much of them.
Graveworm have evolved as a band in a new direction that has stripped down a lot of their gothic and black metal influences. It is this new embracement that has led to a creative breakthrough that had been missing from the band in years. While the style is not perfect, it is miles above Collateral Defect and Diabolical Figures. The focus is much more than just symphonic black metal mixed with gothic and death metal influences, it as evolved into a new style for the band. Hopefully now that they have found a stable reference point, they will continue to improve and evolve upon it.