IROHA & FRAGMENT - Bittersweet

Iroha & Fragment - Bittersweet

6 songs
43:35 minutes
***** **

Iroha page / Fragment page

Sometimes split-albums feature two such different bands that you wonder how they could have agreed to release together in the first place. And then there are those rare times where the two artists share such a common sound that you wouldn’t notice that there are different forces at work. This is the case with Bittersweet, the split-CD/LP by Iroha and Fragment. British three-piece Iroha start with two songs that remind not only a little of Jesu, and this is certainly not a coincidence, as frontman Andy Swan used to be, way back in the Eighties, in an obscure band called Final that also sported Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu) and Nic Bullen (Napalm Death, Scorn) as members. It’s weird to see how Swan and Broadrick evolved the same musical preferences, and one keeps wondering if Iroha try to emulate the currently quite popular Jesu. Be that as it may be, a fact is that Iroha deliver two songs that are certainly not below the music his former bandmate does. Low tuned heavy guitars, brooding bass lines, ethereal keyboards and subdued vocals are all it takes to immerse the listener into a post drone metal fest.

Next up is the title track, a collaborative work between Iroha and Fragment, and behold: the team work works even better than what came before. This may be up to chance, but the added atmospheric component actually gives the song even more depth. Fragment is not a band, but a solo project by Frenchman Thierry Arnal, whose drone metal is somewhat with ambient moods, but otherwise doesn’t stray too far from Iroha. Again we get heavy guitars, doom impending rhythm works and vocals that seem to come far from the background. It should be noted that Fragment’s songs are slightly longer, nine and seven minutes, compared to the six minutes tracks from Iroha. The album ends with a remix of Bittersweet, although it rather sounds like a different – and frankly not as good – mix of the original version. I would have preferred a more alienating approach, with danceable beats maybe, or actually another collaborative track, as the first one worked so well.

Fans of Jesu, Nadja, etc. can’t complain about a lack of choice of how to get this record. Either you get the vinyl, which is ideal for split releases, or the more practical CD, and those who don’t know yet if they should really get this can even download the album for free, a move with which the record label Denovali has already often proved its customer friendliness in the past.

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