Review Summary: Once again, Canada shows the world how to play technical death metal.
Time isn’t always on a band’s side. Whenever there is an extended waiting period between releases, excitement dies down and is replaced by doubts and fears of disappointment. True, in the past, groups such as Atheist and Gorguts have made forceful returns after especially long breaks. But, as the past has also shown, the opposite can be true--consider the cases of Modest Mouse and Cynic. With a near six-year wait between albums, Canadian techdeath outfit First Fragment seemed fated to either topple expectations or crumble under them.
However, to say they completely succeeded in overcoming the obstacle of time is an understatement. With their highly-anticipated debut Dasein
, First Fragment obliterate any and all negative preconceptions, showcasing some of the most inspiring instrumental performances in a technical death metal album. The band stays true to their sound established on The Afterthought Ecstasy
while simultaneously improving on it and experimenting. The end result is one of the strongest albums of the decade.
The band opts for a thrash-metal style of technical death metal where each and every song is a fast-paced battering on the listener. Guitarists Philippe Tougas and Gabriel Brault-Pilon play off each other with remarkable synergy, forming amazing, melodic riffs for each and every track. The opening guitar burst for first track “Le Serment De Tsion” should be enough of an indicator for what you’re in store for--frantic, pounding drums, a very technical and greatly improved bass, and extraordinary interplay between the two guitarists. Songs such as “Gula” are perfect examples of the band’s intense, energetic playing and the great interaction between the members, featuring an engaging guitar riff with a funky, jazz-like bass playing underneath as the drums roll on at an impressive speed. Vocalist David Brault-Pilon is no slouch either, adding more power to the album by supplying his commanding mid-range screams.
has many more progressive tendencies compared to its predecessor. The song lengths have increased--the closing track, “Evhron”, is longer than 8 minutes--giving more room for instrumental breaks where the band really experiments, jumping in and out of harmonious solos and shredding away with ease. “Voracite” spends time with a haunting sample before crashing into an instrumental onslaught, launching an aggressive beating fronted by a strong rhythm section commandeered by bassist Vincent Savary and drummer Troy Fullerton. “Prelude En Sol Diese Mineur” is an entirely instrumental song with nothing but acoustic guitars and the bass playing together and harmonizing. Overall, however, the band’s strongest point remains their ability to create rapid songs with outstanding grooves and melodies, hardly ever relenting to let you catch your breath; they do this with such professionalism that it’s hard to believe this is only the second album they’ve ever created.
What’s most impressive about Dasein
, all things considered, is just how fresh it sounds. Despite being mainly written prior to 2015, Dasein outclasses many modern techdeath albums with an absolutely stellar production. Each band member shines individually, displaying astonishing talent with their craft and greatly outclassing contemporaries. The very clean, polished sound emerging from the record is the icing on the cake, exposing all of the working components of the band.
It’s very difficult to make such a fast, in-your-face album and keep it consistent and intriguing per every song. This proves to be no trouble for First Fragment; Dasein
absolutely earns a place amongst the best modern techdeath releases and deserves all the credit it gets. The tracks flow seamlessly with gorgeous melodies dominating the record. The band has unleashed an undeniably monstrous album that grabs you right from the start and never lets go--a true, full-on sonic assault led by some of the best musicians in the modern scene.