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Fractal Universe: The Impassable Horizon

One of the great pleasures of being a music fan is when you discover a young band at their beginnings and watch them grow. To see the gradual transformation from a very good, talented and interesting band to eventually become one of the most creatively potent and captivating bands you know. There is something very fulfilling about being on that journey as a fan of a band on this path. Luckily for me Fractal Universe is one of those bands. Their run of releases, starting with their first EP from 2015 Boundaries Of Reality and continuing along the upwards trajectory of improvement ultimately arriving at The Impassable Horizon, has been extremely impressive with each subsequent release pushing the boundaries even further with increasing success in creating masterful and unique albums. Fractal Universe is a French band and one of several groundbreaking acts to emerge from that growing extreme metal scene. Alongside fellow countrymen Gojira and Gorod, Fractal Universe is definitely at the tip of the spear when it comes to excellence in the genre.

Fractal Universe’s previous album Rhizomes Of Insanity saw the band achieve quite a large leap forward creatively, leaning further into their progressive and melodic tendencies while still possessing all their Technical Death power and precision. The lyrical content matched that ambitious approach, while being delivered with more melodic vocals including rich harmonies and layering. On The Impassable Horizon the band has continued in this direction and again pushed even further ahead with the complexity level ratcheted up another notch but in conjunction with the melodic and harmonic input and progression. Also lyrically they are once again tackling profound themes of death and how humans relate to it. Taking a very philosophical approach the band teamed up with Arthur Massot, who is a doctor of psychology, to explore these topics in greater depth. To quote the band "It partly draws inspiration from Heidegger's concept of 'being-towards-death'. In the philosopher's mind, the question is not 'What is there after death?' but rather 'What does it mean for us to be aware of our own finiteness, and how do we deal with it consciously and subconsciously?' 'The Impassable Horizon' is just that, it sums it all up in a few words."

The adventurous nature of the music on The Impassable Horizon can not be understated. From the very first track “Autopoiesis” with it’s dissonant and techy opening to it's sublime and uplifting, melodic vocal passages, laced with multiple layered harmonies. To the amazing “A Clockwork Expectation” which covers similar territory but with even more depth, power and beauty and even includes an Alan Holdsworth-like guitar solo. “Interfering Spherical Scenes” and “Symmetrical Masquerade” both bring in more subdued melancholic beauty while still retaining the power and aggression as well. “Falls Of The Earth” comes out hard and heavy but also continues the progressive push and contains some killer, catchy riffing and explosive lead work. “Withering Snowdrops” leaps out in full Tech Death mastery but also has the uplifting vocals that send everything into the stratosphere. Another great addition on this track and others is the saxophone solos. Played by frontman Vince Wilquin, they add another color to this already diverse and complex album. The aptly named “Black Sails Of Melancholia” is another example of great melodic saxophone lines mixed with a darker more melancholic approach than on their previous albums. The album continues exploring all of these textures and themes and more through “A Cosmological Arch” with its cool bass solo, “Epitaph” and the hypnotic “Godless Machinists”, finishing with an acoustic version of “Flashes of Potentialities” from their previous album. All of which continue at the lofty standard laid down by the previous tracks. I also want to make special mention of the steller drumming from Clément Denys who tackles the intricacies and complexity of this album perfectly and sounds amazing.

The Impassable Horizon shows a young band at the peak of their powers. The compositions are exciting and dynamic, the playing from all the members is top tier and the production is excellent in capturing everything cleanly while retaining the aggression and power. The vocals on this album are a great leap forward and they were already great on their previous work. Fractal Universe have marked themselves out as one of the best bands in the technical and progressive death metal scene and this album is perfect. Every track is masterful and any fans of the extreme end of progressive metal should definitely seek out this amazing band and this masterpiece of an album.

Fractal Universe line-up:
Guitar/Vocals/Saxophone: Vince Wilquin
Guitar: Hugo Florimond
Bass: Valentin Pelletier
Drums: Clément Denys

Track Listing
1. Autopoiesis 04:01 2. A Clockwork Expectation 05:11 buy track
3. Interfering Spherical Scenes 03:57
4. Symmetrical Masquerade 04:20
5. Falls of the Earth 05:04
6. Withering Snowdrops 03:30
7. Black Sails of Melancholia 04:46
8. A Cosmological Arch 05:20
9. Epitaph 04:48
10. Godless Machinists 08:10
11. Flashes of Potentialities (Acoustic) 03:46
12. A Clockwork Expectation (Radio Edit)

Added: October 15th 2021
Reviewer: Benjamin Dudai
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 637
Language: english

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