Fragments of Unbecoming Skywards - A Sylphe’s Ascension

By Krista G., Contributor
Monday, March 1, 2004 @ 0:11 AM

(Metal Blade)

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Everyone I’ve talked to about this release is split equally down two sides. The “This is awesome! It’s one of my new favorites!” versus the blasé “Eh, it’s alright” camp. I’m going to painfully straddle the fence on this one. I fit neither category. I’m intrigued by this German band, with their debut recording for Metal Blade. I find elements of this release refreshing, and a new take on the existing genre of “melodic death.” The long or short instrumental passages, the mix of straight death metal only to blend into a galloping Swedish style melodic groove. I’m intrigued, definitely. But, I’d be hard pressed to tell you that this is life altering, or breaking new ground. It’s not. Highly influenced by At the Gates and Dissection. I definitely hear bits of American Death Metal, In Flames, old Dark Tranquillity and The Crown. The vocals are simply harsh, carrying little melody, and are mixed up occasionally. There are few tone or inflection changes with vocals--some effects are used, and the singer does manage a disgusted twist to some lyrics. The song structuring is stuck on a similar pattern--thankfully precious few others are doing this. Strong death style, merging into a melodic gallop, then into possibly an instrumental-only section. And to my ears, this has a tiny splash of black influence in it. The reason I say this is the production in part. The instrumental, or acoustic parts come in crystal clear, while the other songs have a light other worldly, dungeon/cave sound to them. Deliberately dirtied up a bit. Overall, the sound is still very good. Bass isn’t heard much, sticking close to the drummer. Drumming is pretty straight forward, with slower blast beats, nasty snare rolls, some high hat/cymbals, and some use of double bass. Guitar work can be a little repetitive on initial listens, but later listens reveal guitar work that varies completely in the sequence. What once was a repeating riff, now becomes a subtle twist of that riff, advancing as the song progresses. Solos mixed throughout, while the leads are excellent for such a young band.

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The first track, “Up from the Blackest of Soil,” starts off with the sounds of rain, lightening crashing, and beautiful acoustical guitar work which is double layered. Very striking, albeit short, instrumental. Track two--“The Seventh Sunray Enlights my Pathway” opens up and lets you know what you’re really in for -- good riffing, ultra harsh and devilish vocals (think Dark Tranquillity, In Flames), galloping passages, blast beats, death metal styling, and a melodic solo.

Track three--“Shapes of Pursuers”-- simply put: it’s there to be brutal and enlighten you as to what music is contained on this disc. Deep growls, repetitive riffing, blast beats, then an extended bridge makes a nice melodic passage. This passage allows you to hear the cymbals, heavy and ultra melodic riffing, before going back into the death method of punishing the listener. Excellent technical solo, and another melodic passage prior to the instrumental ender to this song--which I spliced out and is in my metal instrumental play list. It is right next to “Voice of the Soul.” Track four, the title cut, I can find little to say about, since it’s reminiscent of the track before. It’s moody, melodic, death metal, with extended instrumental only sections, and harsh screaming and vocals. “Mesmerized”-- a electric guitar only instrumental. Highly possessed, weaving a very delicate--yet intricate spiders web around me. Again, far to short.

“Entangled Whispers in the Depth,” is another harsh number, perhaps the strictest death metal approach on the disc. Whispered vocals over the repeated riffing section is deliciously sinister. Heavy, melodic grooves break the song up, along with vocals that have a few effects put on them to enhance a demonic delivery. Very good song. “Scattered to the Four Winds”--notably for the repeated riff, and its subtle different takes on it, that ties the song together. “On a Scar’s Edge of Infinity”--One mean, mean, motherfucking opening riff to this one. Then the receptive riffing, and a totally different vocal technique takes over. True death metal vocals, punctuating certain things, intermixed with harsh vocs. The overall melody contained in the center of the song reminds me distinctly of a Nile way of doing things. This song is very unique to this disc and it works well.

“Lour Pulse”--okay, this is the single standout song here. It’s totally twisted, demented, and the hook is so effective. I couldn’t quit playing the beginning of the song--it’s that wicked. No vocals at all. Then they go and fuck it all up, by playing a small passage backwards. Thankfully, it’s only about 20 seconds, but it does make for a different riff pattern by being played backwards. “Fear My Hatred”--again, the opening riffing is the best on the song, and is repeated in slightly different variations throughout the song. Excellent guitar work. “Insane Chaosphere”--Heavy, trudging riffing opens this off, the true death vocs make an appearance, lightened up a bit here and there with the cruel melodic style. Some really good grooves in this one, along with the evil effects put on the vocals sporadically. “Life’s Last Embers” is another short electric instrumental. Very classically European influenced.

Here’s where I mention the straddling the fence, in a painful way. If it weren’t for the instrumental pieces, and four of these truly raging songs, I wouldn’t have reviewed this. I do hear something good--believing this to be a band to watch. If you’re a die-hard melodic death fan, this is worth you checking out. If you’re not, this rating is for you…

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