Indian quintet Fragark have one of the bossest names for a death metal band ever. (Cheat sheet: it comes from the name of the sword wielded by Irish sea deity Manannán mac Lir, and literally means 'The Retaliator' or 'The Answerer'. Chills, I tell you.) But when it comes to music, their 2013 debut, Crypts of Dissimulation, falls squarely into "average" territory.
The album starts out innocently enough, with an acoustic introduction just folksy enough to make you believe they might swing towards Opeth territory. But by the first full ensemble moment, it's clear that Fragarak occupy that well-trodden space on the precarious boundary between technical and progressive death metals, like 7 Horns 7 Eyes, or ninety percent of Chuck Schuldiner's career output. And, in all honesty, the band pull off that sound pretty damn well; everything on Crypts of Dissimulation sounds tight and capably performed, and for the genre, nothing is found lacking or unsatisfactory.
However, for all of the considerable work put into the album, the final product just doesn't sound that great. The vocals are given entirely too much weight, crushing the rest of the band whenever they are present, to the point that the vocal lines are just about all you can hear at times. And the band's backing isn't mixed well at all; it comes across more like a blurred mess of suggestions than a well-organized construction, where the individual lines becomes a listener's chore to try and sort out rather than apparent in the presentation.
And it doesn't help that the compositions aren't terribly interesting, either. While they're certainly enjoyable, Fragarak are at a noticeable loss for memorable performances. They present the same prog death ideas we've heard time and time again without much embellishment or shine, making their offering devoid of any fresh perspectives or revelations. It just sounds like another page out of the death metal play book, and no matter how aptly executed it may be, that cannot make up for it being unmemorable.
If you're a fan of straight-up progressive death or the more ponderous varieties of technical death, then you'll likely enjoy listening to Crypts of Dissimulation. It won't radically change the genre or stick out in your mind for very long, but it's still an appreciably pleasant forty minutes, and that's more than I can say for the majority of the bands I have to suffer through. Give it a try.
Recommended if you like: Death, Control Denied, Anata
6.0 / 10
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