] Live4Metal [

// Scott

I must admit that my first thought upon receiving this disc in the mail was, “oh great, another Swedish-style melodic death metal album.” Not that that I don’t love a lot of the music coming out of that country, but it’s gotten to the point where it seems as though every other band, regardless of nationality, is either incorporating elements of the style into their own sound or copying it outright. Now forget everything I just said because I do believe I may have come across my favorite album of the year so far with Fragments of Unbecoming’s Metal Blade debut. Plus, these guys aren’t Swedish; they’re German. Everything that is great about the Swedish melodic death metal style is contained on this release, yet the band is still able to set itself somewhat apart from the flock. The first thing that hits you is the incredible guitar harmonies. Yes, many a band has slipped this vital ingredient into their death metal dishes, but Fragments of Unbecoming have it down cold. The entire album is still full of rough edged guitar riffing, but the harmonies add a layer of beauty to the otherwise ripping tunes. For example, if you listen to “The Seventh Sunray Enlights My Path,” you’ll hear fast paced twin-guitar riffs galloping along like something out of The Black Dahlia’s Murder handbook of death. Other sections then slow down, making you nod in appreciation to Stefan Weimar and Sascha Ehrich’s incredible ability to blend intensity and melody into their top notch six-string work. This perfect blend also shines brightly on the title track, a song that had me nodding along in appreciation to the metallic fury and smiling at the epic feel of it. Even the more attacking faster material like “Shapes of the Pursuers” and “Fear my Hatred” come with a melodic punch. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that “melodic” means “wimpy;” not even close my friends. It just means that the ass kicking you are served up with on this album comes with interesting arrangements and memorable guitar harmonies. Wiemar’s lead vocals are pretty standard Swedish death growls/screams, which is not to say they are a weak point, just a general description (think something along the lines of Johan Lindstrand or Tomas Lindberg). Finally, Ingo Maier’s drumming style is rhythmically exciting. There are plenty of fast kick drum assaults, but he’s not constantly blasting either, instead playing to fit the song. Skywards: A Sylphe’s Ascension gets better with each listen and even though I’m buried in CDs that I still need to listen to and review, I haven’t been able to go a day without spinning this album at least once. I can’t recommend it enough.