Fractal Generator - Macrocosmos [Everlasting Spew Records - 2021]
Fractal Generator are a three-piece blackened death metal band with science fiction themes and grim, cold atmosphere. They combine the dissonant tremolos and unresolving emotional tensions of black metal with the chunky rhythmic low end of death metal, with agile chugging and palm muting in downtuned registers.
In the opening tune, the titular "Macrocosmos", gothic choir pads appear to underscore the guitar, and a melancholic atmosphere is created. I expected the rest of the album to follow suit. Most of the album, it turns out, stays firmly planted in the land of brutality, with the frenzied beating of tracks like "Contagion" wrenching up the BPM to grindcore levels, and the melodic tendencies in the band's writing generally remaining restrained, though subtly present. Gothic string synth does appear in the 5th piece, "Chaosphere" (do they realize Meshuggah already used this name?) and the following "Shadows of Infinity".
The band's biggest influence among old school death metal groups could be said to be Immolation, with Morbid Angel as a close second. The sludgy, stygian lower register tones and thunderously dense midtempo blasts create a similar thickness of sound as with those classic groups. The vocals are also quite similar to Immolation, a shadowy low-mid growl.
Much like many classic albums from the '90s, the ashy, grimy tones of the guitars are something that draws me back time and time again, a space that can be lived in. I'm not sure whether this is due to an actual return to vintage gear, but there is certainly a skilled ear behind the mixing board in Stefano Morabito at 16th Cellar Studio where the album was made. The guitar tone is among the most tonally legible, yet powerful, that I have heard. The drums, while possibly triggered or robotic feeling in places have a great punchy clarity as well.
The guitar writing is skilful and focused, though nothing revelatory or new in 2021. What experimental melodic tendencies it exhibits can be traced to pioneers like Trey Azagthoth and Luc Lemay. Certainly, the chosen idiom is explored well, with highlights emerging in the sinewy 1-2 of "Aeon" and "Serpentine" earlier in the album, and the Thordendal-esque tapping spirals of "Pendulum" later on, as well as the somewhat undeveloped/repetitious but still pleasant melodic closer, "Ethereal".
Fractal Generator's Macrocosmos is a solid death metal record of the subtley atmospheric variety. Rabid fans of sci-fi flavored tech-death will quickly place this recording next to albums by Wormed and The Faceless. Detractors of those bands will likely not be impressed by this either, but I personally appreciate the power of the band's rhythm section and their tight, logically flowing songwriting, creating a headbanging groove without having to resort to 'mosh here' breakdowns. A solid genre album with a bit more old school flavor than its contemporaries.Josh Landry