Review Summary: With arguably the best progressive death metal album since Blackwater Park by Opeth, Fragmentary Evidence falls on... just about nobody's ears.
As modern music progresses, much of it gets left behind. Bands are now trying to become faster, more precise, and create an elaborate balance between technicality, brutality, and innovation. In this process, most of these bands find themselves lost. Certain acts, such as Between the Buried and Me
, show lots of promise. They have established themselves as an act that deserves credit. However, even if their careers are gaining increasing longevity, they still struggle to create meaningful, directed, and innovative songwriting without essentially writing a musical mess. As well, with the sound of Djent growing increasingly in popularity, most bands since 2008 have actually regressed rather than progressed.
Augury is certainly an exception to all of this. With arguably the best progressive death metal album since Blackwater Park by Opeth
, Fragmentary Evidence falls on... just about nobody's ears. When one thinks of great, innovative bassists, Steve Digiorgio should be one of the first that comes to mind. His fret-less bass work has created an impression on more tracks than Seattle Slew, and will likely most notably be remembered for his work with Death in the early 1990's. But what's there to say about Dominic Lapointe?
According to Sputnik Music, Fragmentary Evidence has been rated only 205 times until the date of this review, working on four years after the album's release. 9 out of 10 of those ratings were made by people who likely don't even know his name. Yet his bass work on Fragmentary Evidence is something to be held up to a pedestal, and easily ranks right up there with albums such as Individual Thought Patterns by Death
(Steve Digiorgio). Every track on the album delivers a punishing blow from the fingers of Dominic Lapointe. Whether it pummel you in the face from the get-go in "Aetheral", "Simian Cattle", or astonish you throughout on "Jupiter To Ignite", his bass work on this album is enough alone to warrant this album the praise it deserves. Ironic how one can make such a statement without mentioning the rest of the band.
Everything about Augury on Fragmentary Evidence is simply crushing. Aside from the absolutely incredible song structure and writing, many different musical styles and patterns are prevelent throughout. Vocalist Patrick Loisel, while not reinventing the Death Metal vocal wheel, who in the genre has since 1998? There are, however, vocalists that not only suffice to fit death metal, but those who rise above and show a fantastic understanding of excecution. There is not one part on the whole album where Patrick Loisel fails to fit the bill. In fact, many parts, such as the utterly beautiful yet powerful first several minutes of Brimstone Landscapes, find themselves in their own unique spectrum where finding anything like them is near impossible. Patrick also never tries to sing over the music or force any lyrics, and there are very lengthy passages which will almost make you forget there's even a vocalist.
As your ears tune in to different parts of the band, you discover another under-the-radar talent in Mathieu Marcotte. His guitar work, coupled with Patrick Loisel, is extremely creative. Not only are tempos changed with unmatched skill on the distorted end of Augury, but the clean passages are extremely potent. Some of the most beautiful passages you could possibly think of, such as the one found around 5 minutes into Oversee the Rebirth, cut right into your core. The solo guitar work, while you won't find any extended guitar solos, are always perfectly placed, and astonishingly leave nothing more to be expected. Something that extreme metal hasn't touched in years.
The final piece to the puzzle, Etienne Gallo, may also be the most essential part to the entire band. Etienne's drumming is very reminiscent of albums such as Omnivium by Obscura, and couldn't play any more perfectly from beginning to end on Fragmentary Evidence. From doubling up with Lapointe in a bass-drums solo halfway through Aetheral, to matching the album on every technicality, and twist and turn. He shows not only incredible touch, and maturity with the use of ghost notes, but also incorporates some of the innovative drumming styles found on what is quite possibly the best ever progressive death metal album from a drumming standpoint, The Sound of Perseverance by Death
. Jupiter to Ignite is where he is at his full potential.
It's quite a shame that Fragmentary Evidence may never get the recognition it deserves, but it just might be one of the last truly creative and innovated progressive death metal albums of all-time. A true modern classic, by any standard.
- The album is best listened as a whole, but anyone listening for the first time should check out at least all of the following:
- Simian Cattle
- Jupiter To Ignite
- Brimstone Landscapes