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First Fragment – Gloire Eternelle Award winner

First Fragment
Gloire Eternelle
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 28 December 2021, 6:15 AM

I'm not the biggest fan of modern tech death but there will always be exceptions to that rule! COEXISTENCE, THE SCALAR PROCESS, and AETHEREUS are some examples of said exceptions. After hearing FIRST FRAGMENT's second full length album, "Gloire éternelle," that exception list just grew a little longer. This Canadian group has released a mind melting album of glorious technical prowess paired with potent and memorable songs.

It probably goes without saying, but the musicianship on display across this album doesn't even seem possible. It is flashy, overwrought, cocky and just plain in your face about how amazing the entire band plays. Essentially, this album is everything I hate about technical death metal. So why am I so enthralled with this album? Because these guys are just great song writers. They use their tech abilities to forge the songs so well that there isn't any other approach to take other than throwing subtlety out the window and going balls out.  My only option was to embrace the absurdity of it all and enjoy the ride. And what a ride it is.

The first and title track is…Spanish style guitar and it actually slaps pretty hard. The bass is bouncy as hell and sprinkles the proceedings with impeccable tone. By the time the death growls kick in, the song is full speed ahead with every instrument racing for a finish line only they can see. This song, and the album as a whole, reminds me of a death metal version of SPIRAL ARCHITECT: songs that, upon first listen, sound like a random hodgepodge of sounds but continued listens reveal songs and musicians that are actually in astounding tune and sync with each other. After the six minute mark, the band settles into this odd sort of groove and the song flows smoothly despite all that is going on.

At this point I realize this technical death is….danceable? And funky? Very unconventional but that is what makes it so good. "La veuve et le martyr," brings that funk bass groove and the song builds around it with the guitars having a similar beat before thrashing out and throwing out solos. Around three and a half mark, all the melody comes from the bass with everyone else providing the heavy atmosphere with layers of guitars and drums generating worlds below. "Ataraxie," feels like a mind expansion, such is the dizzying array of technical prowess. The rhythm goes pretty hard too—the drums are truly an astonishing accomplishment. The guitars swirl around the bass and when they meet up after the two minute mark, the song gets even more impressive. The last couple minutes are musical bursts of lighting, striking high and with the electrical impact to fry the ears.

Then I come to the eighteen minute epic "In'el" which is so good that I almost cried the first time I heard it. The melodies, the gentle opening…it is a surprisingly moving and emotional song. The song swell with all these nooks and crannies that just add that much more to the experience. The solo that begins at 2:37….tell me that doesn't make you have all the feels and then I know you don't have a soul. How about the middle part of the song around the 8:20 mark? How can you not like that? The bass and guitars fill up the air while the growls penetrate this wall of sound, which breaks down into all the widdly wham bam you could ever need. After the twelve minute mark, the bass goes into ultra funk jazz mode times a thousand and the other instruments play as fast as possible. Who wins? The listener!

I'm not only shocked with how good "Gloire éternelle" is but I'm thrilled that it exists. Absolutely incredible experience whether you like tech or not; this beast has something for everyone.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Gloire éternelle
2. Solus
3. La veuve et le martyr
4. Pantheum
5. De chair et de haine
6. Sonata en mi mineur
7. Ataraxie
8. Soif brûlante
9. In'el
10. Mort éphémère
Phil Tougas - Guitars (lead, rhythm, nylon), Vocals (backing), Keyboards, Percussion (additional),
David AB - Vocals (lead, backing), Lyrics
Dominic "Forest" Lapointe - Bass (fretless)
Nick "Thriller" Miller - Guitars (lead, rhythm)
Nicholas "Le Fou" Wells – Drums, Vocals (backing)
Record Label: Unique Leader Records


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