My first encounter with France’s Fractal Gates was on their last album “Beyond the Self,” which was mixed and mastered by the great Dan Swanö. Swanö provided guest vocals for their cover of the Cheap Trick song “Mighty Wings.” The cover was incredible and the album as a whole was quite good. Fractal Gates have teamed up with Swanö again for “The Light That Shines.” No guest appearance this time but the album sounds incredible.
The easiest comparisons for Fractal Gates’ sound is a mix of Scar Symmetry and Omnium Gatherum. To be fair, I am not sure the songs are quite to the level of those bands but they are high quality nonetheless. The album kicks off with “Visions X,” another part of their ongoing “Visions” interludes that have been on each album. There are three of them on this album and like most interludes, they don’t do much for me either way.
“Breath of Life” kicks the album off properly and makes for an excellent kick in the face. The momentum continues with “Chasing the Line,” another headbanger of a track. What I like about Fractal Gates is that they always have melody as a major part of what they do. Sure the vocals are harsh and yes the music is heavy, but the guitar lines are always melodic and grooves are strong.
As with any progressive melodeath band, Fractal Gates are great players. “Infinity” is another solid driving track but by this point, the pace and tempo of the tracks are starting to sound roughly the same. The good news comes in the form of the fourth track “Bound By Time,” which does slow things down even though not a lot. “Dreams Apart” has one of the better hooks on the album but again, follows the same pattern as previous songs. I do love the keys on this track which gives the song added texture and dynamics.
Dynamics would be something that I think Fractal Gates might use a bit more in the future. A song like “Faceless” has awesome keys in it but once the guitars kick in, they almost get lost. Luckily, the mix keeps the balance in place. It can be hard to distinguish tracks at times. The title track gets lost a bit but then a song like “Seas of Flames” has a big sound that stands out more.
I think Fractal Gates would benefit from some clean vocals. While I think keyboardist Sébastien Pierre has a strong harsh voice, adding a clean vocal would be another weapon in the band’s bag of tricks. It would give them the dynamics that they do lack at times. Still, there’s no denying the overall listenability of “The Light That Shines.” I think Fractal Gates have a bright future, especially if they keep getting their music mixed this well.
- Visions X
- Breath of Life
- Chasing the Line
- Bound by Time
- Dreams Apart
- Visions XI
- The Light That Shines
- Seas of Flames
- Visions XII
Mix and master by Dan Swanö
Label : Rain Without End Records
Release Date: 12 May, 2018