Album Review: FRAGARAK A Spectral Oblivion
If anyone has been following my reviews, you've likely detected a theme of commonalities, not only in subgenre tastes, but also in global region of bands as of lately. Scrolling through my posts, Arallu (Israel), Rudra (Singapore), and Eccentric Pendulum (India) are all acts from Asia that I'd highly recommend. And now I have yet another international reckoning force to add to the collection.
Indian tech-death group, Fragarak, hails from New Delhi with vocalist Supratim Sen, guitarist/vocalist Arpit Pradhan, bassist/vocalist Kartikeya Sinha, and guitarist Ruben Franklin. While not an official member due to his obligations with other bands, Louis Rando is the featured drummer on this record. You may know the Australian performer as 'Dizaster' via projects such as Bloodlust, Depravity, Impiety, Mhorgl, The Furor, Malignant Monster, Pathogen, and more. Basically, the dude is a drumming beast and it definitely shows on here. But don't worry, Rando won't be the only member with a spotlight casted upon him in this review as each musician contributes massive amounts of talent.
Before we dive into the details, A Spectral Oblivion is an immense record, both in terms of length and dynamics. The eleven songs within can span from one minute all the way up to thirteen, resulting in an overall run time of almost an hour and a half. Comparitvely, this LP reminds me a lot of The Faceless' Autotheism in the sense that the heavy parts are truly fucking intense and the calmer parts are quite magnificently beautiful. Essentially, the range of dynamics is strong, even if the heavier extreme metal moments can last a tad long.
The two part opener consisting of "Rumination I – The Void" and "Rumination II – Reflections" is a solid example of Fragarak's dynamism. The former mentioned piece begins this record in an unexpected fashion with folksy acoustic guitar accompanied by a vocal choir. After the first minute, electric classical guitar clashes with metallic elements pouring over the initially calm scenery like fresh magma. With a constant state of building tension through ascending guitar leads and melodic shifts, the music eventually sunk down in momentum to mark the transition between part one and two. A brief whimsical intro once again calms the mood before quickly slipping back into polished chaos. As black and death metal traits remain consistent throughout "Rumination II – Reflections," the entire track is divided up by a diverse array of vocal deliveries and medieval sounding licks. Further songs including " The Phaneron Eclipsed," "Fathoms of Delirium," "Spectre – An Oblivion Awakens," "This Chastising Masquerade," and "Of Ends Ethereal" offer a similar relationship of extreme metal sewn together by eccentricity, guaranteeing never a dull moment.
If I were to classify Fragarak, they'd land somewhere between progressive metal and tech-death territory, but I would argue the band has unique attributes that set them apart from other contemporaries. At this point, I feel it is necessary to shine the spotlight upon guitarists Pradhan and Franklin who showcase the band's unique traits frequently in this LP. I'm not certain about this, but I'd very much assume that these two musicians are classically trained as every single acoustic interlude is simply masterful. While most of the songs on the album have calming, classical intros, segments in the middle, or outros, all four tracks titled "Alucinari" ("Transcendence," "Revelations," "A Reverie," and "The Fall") are exclusively focused on this style.
Overall, I think it is obvious with my praise of the material presented that this record warrants a high score. But with commendation, critique must follow. Where A Spectral Oblivion is an obvious display of unparalleled musicianship, I sometimes find myself more-so in admiration and holding utter respect for the talent, rather than simply enjoying the music. Many times while listening I became floored by the group's musical skill, but never found myself fully hooked to a particular melody. Granted, this notion may be a pointless quarrel to request of a technical death metal group, but my proggy bias comes with an innate desire for some catchy repetition and I feel most would agree in that an epic chorus here and there would even further benefit the dynamics of this record. Nonetheless, Fragarak pushed the envelope of tech-death, exposing a tender and intelligent side to a brittle subgenre.