Retrace My Fragments - Tidal Lock

3 songs
15:53 minutes
***** ***


Itís been three and a half years since Retrace My Fragments showed on their album Ethereal Flux how to craft the perfect brand of progressive death metal. Their new three track EP Tidal Lock is considered a transitional step between its predecessor and the upcoming next longplayer sometime in the future. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Retrace My Fragments have become an instrumental band as vocalist Marti has moved to South East Asia. Gone are the death metal elements of the past, instead we get highly technical instrumental progressive metal.

Luxembourg has been known for a long time as a safe haven for vocal-less bands, like the noise rockers from Tvesla, Yegussa and Cassťe, and especially the math rock indie heroes Mutiny On The Bounty. With the latter, Retrace My Fragments share their strange sense of humour that shows that musicians can be highly skilled technicians but also donít have to take it all too seriously all the time.

Take for instance the opener Khlav Kalash, named after a fictional food from the Simpsons animated TV show. At seven minutes, this is the EPís magnum opus. It stars with a short electronic part that reminded me of Zombi, before the guitars join in and take the listener to a truly vertiginous rollercoaster ride that covers all the facets of progressive metal: there are atmospheric moments, rhythmic groove parts, intricate guitar structures, wild arpeggios,... everything the demanding music fan should be delighted with. The following Le Bison de Hoggs is an allusion the elusive Higgs boson, also called God particle. This is at four minutes a shorter track and also feels a little more straightforward, although there are still plenty of details to be discovered by every music loving Sherlock. The concluding Laserbrain comes with a quote from a Star Wars movie, and is my personal highlight on the album (although I have always been more of a Star Trek person). This is a fast and jolly math metal monster that reminds me strongly of the wonderful Watchtower. Instrumental metal is often aimed at musicians, especially since some of the members of Retrace My Fragments are music instructors. Many of the finesses might be lost on the common people, which is why it is so important that the songs have clear cut structures on top and the virtuoso details beneath, waiting to be unveiled.

From a musical point of view, Tidal Lock is another step forward for Retrace My Fragments. I wonder now if they want to remain an instrumental band, or if they will be looking for that one special vocalist that would elevate their artful compositions to an even higher level. As a non-musician, Iíd really like this to happen, but have faith that even if this were not to happen, that they still have the resources to come up with smart prog music that will appeal to musicians and laymen alike.

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