It seems a rare occurrence when a band makes that devious blend of textures within their music. Going beyond the mere aural aspects – although Fragments is a genuine combination of brutality, melody, and catchy yet innovative songwriting – some are able to go as far as creating moods and channeling emotions within their music. While this certainly does not happen often, it is a moment to be cherished when you lose yourself subconsciously in a daunting guitar melody or begin banging your head mercilessly to a chugging riff. Song after song, minute after minute, Sterling Black Icon
not only sounds like the highest quality melodic death written in recent times, it also keeps the listener feeling something new with every riff. Whether it’s vehement rage along guttural growling and blasting drums or a heavenly experience during a melodic interval, you not only hear the music, you feel it.
Fragments of Unbecoming, a five piece melodic death metal outlet from Germany, truly took their talent to the next level with their second and latest album, Sterling Black Icon
. Every aspect of their previous album Skywards
has been brought back and improved upon. Riffs and textures flow within each other, a dual vocal attack keeps listeners on their toes, and vicious drums blast away meticulously. 2006 may not see a better album than this melodic death performance; it would be unreasonable to expect any more.
Sterling Black Icon
seems to possess so many layers it’s impossible to keep track of them all. From the beginning of the serene acoustic entrance to the end of the haunting piano departure, the music latches on and never lets go, yet never once becomes predictable. Tracks such as Sterling Black Icon
and A Faint Illumination
are reminiscent of the sound of Skywards
, beginning as catchy riffests and concluding as epic theaters of melody. Scythe of Scarecrow
is a pummeling track of aggression while Live for the Moment, Stay ‘till the End
is an enjoyable mixture of elements that sacrifices none of the extreme influences while seemingly an easy listen. To offset the varying array of songs, Dear Floating Water
and Breathe in the Black to See
are packed full of harmonious death metal madness for well over seven minutes each. Everything one could possibly ask for in metal is here in abundance and will surely never fail to grab attention.
The newest addition to the squad is lead vocalist Sam Anetzberger who teams up with guitarist Stefan Weimar to produce a flurry of vicious screams and menacing growls. If you feel like your life is at stake while listening to Scythe of Scarecrow
, you’re not alone. Many a small animal has been sacrificed to prevent mass plaguing of the metal gods. Fears are put to rest amidst the chaos with song introductions [i]Ride for a Fall[i] (a dark flurry of lead guitar) and Onward to the Finger of God
(an intensely harmonized tremolo piece).
Not enough can be said about the incredible music sealed within the album’s sleek, enticing packaging. Weave Their Barren Path
flows seamlessly from low, dark riffing to beautifully harmonized lead work, and again into a vocal-lead passage. Stand the Tempest
concludes the album with an epic conjuration of strength from every instrument, creating a powerful vortex of metal. Honestly, no single track(s) can be labeled the best on Sterling Black Icon
. Every song is a masterful creation of dynamic metal with enough variety to create the most extreme smorgasbord ever heard on a record. Brutal, yet melodic; ideas flow logically, yet never feel formulaic. Wickedly metal, yet never without a true experience of emotion. It’s incredible what a group of five Germans can accomplish with aspirations and perseverance.
While words cannot describe the sense of trepidation felt in this album, the only way to truly experience it is to listen to the record in full. Anyone who remotely considers themselves a metal fan, especially fans of melodic death metal, owes it to themselves to obtain a copy of Fragments of Unbecoming’s Sterling Black Icon