Album Reviews : Vespers Descent – Fragments of the Forgotten
So I receive a CD in the mail containing some melodic death metal from Western Australia, and, while I prefer to keep my reviews to the music side of things, I’d like to note that the CD certainly reeks of professionalism. The cover artwork, the plain black CD and the inner booklet all tie together quite elegantly. It’s a CD from Western Australia but it looks as though it could have come from anywhere international. Well done, Dani Rolli (who’s credited as doing artwork); but enough of that – on to the music.
First we’re hit with some solid, tight sounding vocals and blistering guitar work. These guitarists are most certainly well practiced, there are sweeps and tricky leads that would get a hat tip from even the most seasoned virtuosos. What tends to strike me (and I see this in the songwriting as well) is that the riffs and leads are a little different from your run-of-the-mill melodeath progressions and riffs. They have a healthy blend of melody and dissonance, off-the-wall technicality and traditional, catchy simplicity and also maintain a nice balance between blistering speed and, well, whatever you’d use to euphemistically describe the opposite of speed in lead work (I don’t want to say ‘slow’, perhaps ‘thoughtfulness’ is a better adjective here). I don’t get bored and they don’t seem to be just running through diatonic scales. They don’t fall in the trap of keeping it all slow and ‘feeling’ based, they haven’t gone too far in either direction. They understand balance.
Drums tend to be solid, impressive at moments and certainly keep true to their role as a backbone of the music. They demonstrate a capable grasp on groove as well. I wish he’d experiment a little more, though. Sometimes it seems like he’s just “playing it safe” on a few of the slower songs, however this feeling certainly doesn’t last the entire album. As for the drum sound, it’s reasonably nice and solid, but I feel as though the tone of the rhythm guitars tends to cloud some of the spectrum. The tone could be a little more sleek, perhaps not occupy such a large part of the spectrum but instead take their place complementing other instruments. I feel the bass, albeit consistent and solid performance, is victim to this as well. Because this album dabbles in the faster and more technical side of melodeath I really wish there was just a little bit of extra clarity so the big picture and the interactions between instruments was better presented to me rather than having to really dig through to find the hidden treasures that are the fine details of their performance.
The song writing seems to be a strong point here. It is certainly a symptom of many melodic death metal bands to repeat the same riffs, the same tempos, the same chord progressions, all the tricks of the genre seem like they come from a textbook at times. Fragments of the Forgotten seems to take its cautious steps outside the box. It takes handy elements from new and old, popular and obscure, technical and classically simple. Similarly to the drums, it leaves me wishing they just went that little bit further in their extremes; that they branched out even further and really brought in something significantly unique to their otherwise uninterrupted domain of metal. I don’t mean to be too harsh, but it has moments that can be difficult to remember and don’t seem to stand out.
All in all, this is very much a solid album in terms of writing and performance. Production is likewise solid but could use some more polishing here and there. What I would really like to see out of these guys in the future is for them to venture further into the obscure, into previously unexplored territory and create something that would transform them into a unique and exceptional band. I definitely hear the seeds for much more potential in this album and look forward to what they may get up to in future. For now, this quenches anyone’s thirst to throw everything out a window and head bang with a slight tinge of melancholy and depth as you’d come to expect with melodeath. 6.8/10
Band: Vespers Descent
Album: Fragments of the Forgotten
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Label: Firestarter Distribution
Origin: Perth, Australia
2. Feed The Fear
3. Ever Closing Minds
4. Fragments of the Forgotten
5. Slaves to the System
6. To Define… We Destroy
7. Solaris Entwined
8. Tragedy of Perfection
9. Angel in Black
10. Sharpen the Blade
11. Throes of Madness
12. The Coming Storm