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Fractal Universe – The Impassable Horizon Award winner

Fractal Universe
The Impassable Horizon
by Alex Barnard at 16 August 2021, 9:42 PM

FRACTAL UNIVERSE is a Progressive Death Metal band from Nancy, Grand Est, FR. “The Impassable Horizon” is the group’s third album, released by Metal Blade Records on June 25, 2021.

Limiting FRACTAL UNIVERSE’s sound with the label of “Progressive Death Metal” is a disservice to the band. These guys are not just OPETH rip-offs; they seamlessly weave influences from Jazz Fusion, Djent, and Black Metal into the overall framework of their Progressive Death Metal sound, making them more akin to groups like RIVERS OF NIHIL and CYNIC. Hugo Florimond’s guitar playing sounds like the bastard child of GORGUTS’ Luc Lemay, MESHUGGAH’s Fredrik Thordendal and Allan Holdsworth. Vince Wilquin’s effortlessly juggles singing with the melodic grit of Joe Duplantier, the clean style of Mikael Åkerfeldt, and the brutal gutturals of David Vincent. Clément Denys can switch between time signatures, polyrhythms and blast beats with ease. And, last but not least, Valentin Pelletier’s bass playing is superb, clearly taking cues from bass giants like Steve DiGiorgio and Alex Webster.

Perhaps the most brilliant aspect of this album, which seems to be indicative of a growing trend in the Progressive Death Metal scene, is the incorporation of saxophone into the mix (RIVERS OF NIHIL also used sax on their album “Where Owls Know My Name.”). Songs like “Falls of the Earth,” “Withering Snowdrops,” and “Black Sails of Melancholia” feature the saxophone in beautiful transitional moments of the songs leading to a powerful solo from Florimond, whereas the track “A Clockwork Expectation” proves that saxophone solos work just as well over blast beats and palm-muted guitar chugs. I hope more Death Metal bands take a cue from the FRACTAL UNIVERSE, as the use of sax is a truly inspired move.

Other highlights from this record include “Epitaph,” with its gloomy and depressing chord progression and blistering solo from Florimond; “Interfering Spherical Scenes,” with its devastatingly brutal polyrhythmic breakdown section; and “Flashes of Potentialities (Unplugged)” which is an acoustic version of the second track from the group’s preceding album, “Rhizomes of Insanity.” Here, Wilquin’s clean singing truly shines, and of course the sax solo towards the end of the track is stunning.

Overall, what an album! I have absolutely nothing else to say – this record left me practically speechless upon first listen. FRACTAL UNIVERSE have produced a real gem with this album, and I can’t wait to hear what the group does next.

Production: 10
Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 8
Musicianship: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Autopoiesis
2. A Clockwork Expectation
3. Interfering Spherical Scenes
4. Symmetrical Masquerade
5. Falls of the Earth
6. Withering Snowdrops
7. Black Sails of Melancholia
8. A Cosmological Arch
9. Epitaph
10. Godless Machinists
11. Flashes of Potentialities (Unplugged)
Lineup:
Hugo Florimond – Lead guitar
Valentin Pelletier – Bass
Vince Wilquin – Vocals, guitar
Clément Denys – Drums
Record Label: Metal Blade Records
     


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