Upon pressing play, my first impression is a jaw-dropping one. This is Technical Death Metal and then some. As it turns out though, there’s even more than just complex craziness going on here.
First Fragment can certainly play. At first glance it could seem as if all of the instruments are all over the place. Although that’s a good thing in many ways, crucially on Dasein, they’re all reined in appropriately for the needs of the song, rather than just let loose to roam and explore where they see fit, (although it does feel like that in some places).
The guitars are intricately-played neoclassical technical workouts, with bright riffs, lightning solos and flashy leads. Again, though, it’s all within a framework of songcrafting that strikes just the right balance between chaos and disorder. Impressive.
You can also hear the bass, which I always like. The bassist appears to have about three pairs of hands and his octopus-playing adds much to the experience of the album. The instrument also enhances the progressive side of the music, too.
The drummer is not lacking in the limb department either. Fusing metal, progressive and jazzy beats, he puts on a sterling display of skin-pounding throughout.
Oh yes, I should mention the singer too. Not only does he have a very tasty deep growl, but his vocals act as somewhat of an anchor to the extravagances of the rest of the music. They seem to hold everything else in place and provide direction, focusing the mayhem to a fine point. Some songs are instrumental, and on these occasions the music does a good job of streamlining and directing itself. Maybe because the instruments all know that the singer will be back in the not too distant future, and he’ll be pissed if they’ve made a mess of everything. Or something…
Musically there’s also a fair amount of variety across the album and lots of different influences at play, with the guitars and drums in particular. From song to song you never quite know what’s going to happen next, whether it’s insane brutality, flamenco guitars, masterful solos, reflective moments, or a selection of other different touches and flourishes.
I’m impressed with how they can seemingly make effortless shifts between extremity, frenzied playing, song-based emotive content, rampant melodics and fast rhythms on Dasein. A lot of bands can only handle a couple of these aspects at once; it’s rare to find a band that can achieve all of them, sometimes within the same song.
This is a long album, with 58 minutes of music here, but the band make the playing time seem like half of what it is. Their infectious energy is all-consuming and the music never loses the listener’s attention. Brutality, speed and the ever-present technicality of the work catches the attention, and the subtle structures and ordering of emotive leads holds it.
This really is quite the find. First Fragment appear to have produced something very special here. Technical and progressive Death Metal may be relatively commonplace these days, but First Fragment are anything but.
Hugely impressive and enjoyable. If you’re after a band that can deliver on both a musical and emotional front, accept no substitutes.
Essential extreme Metal listening.