Thursday 23 May 2013

various metallic objects

Fragarak: 'Crypts Of Dissimulation' (2013)

Fragarak is a progressive death metal band based in New Delhi and frankly, I don't see anything on the horizon that can beat their self-released debut to the spot of best Indian metal album of the year. Remember when Cynic and Atheist were just starting out, or when bands like Nocturnus, The Chasm and Scythe started adding vast textures and expansive musical quests to the death metal template? Fragarak capture that spirit perfectly. They're an accomplished band, but just as importantly they're imaginative and skilled songwriters. The 4 lengthy songs and 2 instrumentals on this album are full of great melodies, captivating musical exposition and brilliantly sustained atmosphere. The roots are old school - the more proggy elements of the early 90s death scene with some latter-day Death thrown in. Maybe a dollop of the more contemplative variety of black metal. The resulting sound is both original and far more mature than many of the contenders in this scene. A band that isn't short on ideas, integrity or identity. Watch out for this lot!

Sacred Gates: 'Tides Of War' (2013)

Okay, this is more like it. I tried a little too hard to find merit in Battle Beast a week back, but Sacred Gates play power metal that's actually not just rooted but totally enveloped in classic metal grandeur. The band used to be a Maiden tribute act, and Iron Maiden is certainly a large part of the blueprint for this sound, but so are other NWOBHM greats as well as a healthy dose of classic US power metal. The vocals are rough and powerful, almost thrashy at times, but able to soar as well. The guitars are equally at ease cranking out headbanging riffs, hooky choruses, soaring twins and flowing solos while both the bassist and drummer do much more than just fill out the line-up. It's true that the sound is just as original as the subject matter of this concept album - the battle of Thermopylae. But what matters here is the quality of the songs, from the fury of 'The Immortal One' or 'Spartan Killing Machine' to the anthemic fervour of 'Defenders', the wistful determination of 'Never To Return' or the epic strains of the instrumental 'The Battle of Thermopylae'. Much more focussed and satisfying than their excellent debut, and I hope it sees them building a larger following among fans of trad/epic/power metal.

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