Retrace My Fragments - Ethereal Flux

13 songs
63:12 minutes
***** *****


Things started really slowly for Retrace My Fragments. Founded in 2006 by well-known faces from the local underground, they soon released a demo, to be followed by the EP Vertizontal in 2008. If you read my review from back then, you will understand that they were a promising band still struggling to find their own sound. Another demo saw the light of day in 2011, and while there was definite progress, the production value could only hint at what we get with the quintet’s first longplayer Ethereal Flux.

Apart from it being a gorgeous item coming in an eye-pleasing digipak and a poster with an imaginary star chart, this concept album might be the most advanced metal record ever to come from Luxembourg. Retrace My Fragments have been working on the material for six years, and all three tracks from the preceding demo have been recorded in far superior versions. The band calls its musical orientation progressive experimental death metal, and while that is coming as close as it gets, there is much more to discover on Ethereal Flux. The concept album will soon be followed by a science fiction novella written by vocalist Marti, so I am not going into the details. Let it just be said that the thirteen songs on the CD have been subdivided into six chapters, a prologue and an epilogue. More often than not, the songs are flowing into each other, so that it is recommended to listen to the album in one go. Picking out single tracks will most definitely end in abrupt stops that are not so ideal.

The intro or prologue Cosmic, The Future is an instrumental wonder that has not much in common with the death metal genre, and surprises with some cranky electronic stuff, making this a great introduction into the hour long album. The first regular track Treewe’s End is the shortest vocal track, but don’t expect anything simple. Yes, there are catchy moments, but all of this is clad in incredible instrumentation. Drummer Twiggy, also known of Clean State, can finally show off all his technical virtuosity, making him the undisputed best drummer to ever come from Luxembourg. The bass guitar perfectly joins the game, never faltering even at the most staccato moments, and the two guitarists are harmonising in the most perfect way imaginable. The following Rime Of The Instant Space Traveller adds even more insanity. The foundation of the music is progressive death metal, reminding me of crazy stuff like Gorguts, even though the most obvious parallel might be Between The Buried And Me if they were more metal and less core. There are also moments of purest thrash bliss, some vintage heavy metal guitar duelling that occasional borders on the bluesy, classical touches and some really well done jazz breaks. Marti’s death growls sound as evil as never before, but he also doesn’t shy away from more melodic parts that may not yet be his strength but still feel welcome and add a welcome variety.

Many supreme artists come to mind: Devin Townsend, Voivod, Watchtower, Sieges Even. And yet Retrace My Fragments never come across as a rip-off. Their more extreme approach makes their sound more modern, and the perfect production helps to emphasise the genius of the music.

The last regular track Universal Ties is with nine minutes running time the record’s magnum opus and shows the band from their most insane side yet. All the songs are brimming each one with more ideas than your general metal band packs on an entire album, but this piece will leave you just speechless. You really have to listen to this for yourself because words can’t do any justice in this case.

Considering that death metal was a very primitive moment in the first place, it’s stupefying to learn what it can evolve to. This is music of the highest progressive order, never afraid of well-placed experiments, offering more than one hour of music that makes you wonder how the musicians are able to construct such a complex structure. Ethereal Flux is perfection, despite some very minor flaw that might surface here and there, and should be consumed by every connoisseur of intelligent metal music.

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