Fractal Gates: exploring “The Light That Shines”

Fractal Gates, the French Melodic Death Metal band formed in 2007, has continued to solidify its presence in the metal scene with their latest release, “The Light That Shines.” This album (2018) marks their third release since their remarkable album “Beyond The Self” in 2013, featuring the consistent lineup of Stéphane Peudupin, Sébastien Pierre, Arnaud Hoarau, Antoine Verdier, and Jeremy Briquet.

Similar to “Beyond The Self,” “The Light That Shines” boasts a few notable guest appearances, adding to the album’s allure. Collaborations with musicians like Ben Ellis (Scar Symmetry), Jari Lindhom (Enshine, ex-Atoma, ex-Slumber), and Jérôme Boumendil enrich the album, delivering captivating solos that embellish the tracks. The mixing and mastering by Dan Swanö ensure a polished production, characterized by a blend of power and balance, elevating the already enchanting melodies.

The band’s fondness for science fiction is unmistakable, evident in the album’s stunning artwork and teaser, whisking listeners away on yet another cosmic journey.

One notable aspect that persists from previous albums is the inclusion of atmospheric instrumentals, akin to pieces that could seamlessly fit into a Jean-Michel Jarre album. Tracks X, XI, and XII continue this tradition, leaving fans eager for the next installment on future albums.

Listening to the album evokes echoes of bands like Septicflesh, Insomnium, Dark Tranquillity, and hints of Paradise Lost. However, Fractal Gates retains a distinctive and robust identity, transcending these influences to deliver music that oscillates between impactful aggression and immersive ambiance, all while maintaining a strong focus on meticulously crafted melodies.

Throughout the album, certain riffs stand out, enhancing the overall impact of tracks like “Chasing the Line,” “Bound by Time,” and “Reborn.” The melodies consistently strike emotional chords, often carrying a tinge of melancholy, showcased through skillful lead guitar work atop intense rhythmic foundations. The keyboards, tastefully employed, supplement the compositions rather than overpowering them, as evident in tracks like “Seas of Flames.”

Although elements of progressive metal are sparingly incorporated, tracks like “Infinity” feature instrumental passages that seamlessly blend into the band’s style.

Vocally, the deep growls prevail, delivering potent performances. Occasional whispered vocals punctuate moments of calmness, as heard in tracks like “Breath of Life” and “Dreams Apart.”

Despite initially wishing for a longer album duration, the thirteen compositions spanning around forty-five minutes feel fitting. The band’s prowess in varying tempos, riff craftsmanship, and melodic intricacies keeps the listener engaged throughout, with each track substantially developed.

In summary, “The Light That Shines” stands as an exceptional offering from Fractal Gates. Its captivating nature and addictive quality make it an album that, in my perspective, lacks any notable flaws or monotony. Instead, it matures and grows more enchanting with each listen. For aficionados of melodic death metal, this album is a must-listen, showcasing Fractal Gates’ mastery in crafting a captivating sonic journey.

As we revel in the glory of “The Light That Shines,” fans and enthusiasts alike eagerly await the release of their new album slated for 2024. Anticipation is high, and expectations are soaring, as we all look forward to another musical odyssey from Fractal Gates.

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