Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sunburst - Fragments of Creation


Fragments of Creation is the kind of album every reviewer hopes to stumble on: a band with minimal pedigree coming out of nowhere with something that sounds like seasoned veterans at their career peak.

The opener, Out of the World, sets the tone nicely for the whole album with a riff that sounds like a streamlined mix of Symphony X and Dream Theater, both circa 2007. And as soon as Vasilis Georgiou's vocals come in, I can't help but feel right at home. Many will call him a Roy Khan clone, and the similarly is more uncanny here than ever, but without Roy Khan to fill that role anymore, it's a welcome title to live up to. It helps that the band takes that similarity in an unconventional direction, sounding less like Kamelot and more like a heavier, modernized version of Khan's previous band, Conception.


Since this is a Black Fate side project, comparisons to Geurgiou and guitarist Gus Drax's other band will be inevitable. Without going into too much detail, I'll say that Between Visions and Lies was decent: inconsistent but with a lot of promise. With this new band, they manage to make good on all those promises with a new sound that suits their respective talents better.

The albums keeps a consistent mid pace (by power metal standards,) focusing on strong vocal melodies and tight instrumental interludes. The choruses are some of the most instantly memorable in the last several months, especially on Symbol of Life, Reincarnation, and End of the Game.

Drax's guitar work sounds like a greatest hits mashup of some of the biggest names in prog and power metal. The best is example is instrumental Beyond the Darkest Sun, which sounds like Timo Tolkki in his prime mixed with a hint of Joe Satriani's recent work. Yet his chief talent is the restraint to know when to hold back and let the vocals shine. I wouldn't be surprised if a five-minute stint in Megadeth was in his future.

The closing track, Remedy of My Heart, pulls off one of the most impressive feats of the whole album. It's a 12 minute long song, but more importantly, it's not a sweeping epic or an operetta that could just as easily be multiple tracks. It's just a song that manages not to drag at any point for 12 minutes, and that takes a level of restrained talent that few bands have.

If it isn't obvious already, Fragments of Creation impressed me on every level. It just barely edges out Steven Wilson's 4 1/2 as my album of the year so far and shows strong signs of being a major year-end contender.

Final Score: 4.5/5



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