The description of London-based metallers Fraktions as technical metal is probably correct, however I think the description sells them short. From such a young group of musicians this is an incredibly technical record, yes, but there is a lot more going on than just the fact that these guys can play their instruments extremely well. It’s part prog, part jazz, part metal but at no moment have they lost sight of the fact that they are there to entertain and it’s the depth and soul of this EP that is lost on such dry descriptions.
The EP opens with a gentle intro piece that is spacious and reminds you of a metal Mike Oldfield before the first track proper, “Altercation”, is eased in. This first track instantly introduces you to the subtle playing and the more technical side. The vocals float above the music and you have a great progressive rock song. There is a great connection between those floating lyrics that partly remind me of Canadian mid-noughties indie rockers The Stills, and the more technical playing underneath. As a band they manage to create a great atmosphere. Dream-psych-rock almost. A good opening track.
“Freedom of the Conscious Mind” continues this theme and feel (as well as being a great prog rock song title, if I have ever seen one). Again, we have the floating vocals over the atmospheric and incredibly tight music. There is a feeling of moving in and out, a flow and ebb of the mind. One or two interludes with what appears to be a small piano break only strengthen this feeling. There some great metal riffs crunched out and the guitar playing gives more than a passing nod to Steve Vai in his early days at times.
So just as we get comfortable and think we are in for a more metal Muse throughout, they introduce “Panic” into the mix with guest vocals by No Consequence’s Kaan Tasan. This is a much darker track and the vocals are now bellowed in Kaan’s strong part-lyrical rap voice and then mirrored with Joel Pinder’s dreamlike vocals. Kaan, though, is on ferocious form and suddenly with an EP that was going down a pretty straight progressive metal route we suddenly taking a much darker turn. The music is more fractured, the vocals menacing. Top marks for this mid-record curve-ball. A great wake-up call and an introduction to another side of the band.
The beautiful piano-led instrumental of “Sanctuary” follows before we are left with another metal slice in the form of “The Difference Between Drowning and Sinking”. Again vocally this is loud and almost out of sync with the earlier record. It has a pace to the vocals I like and musically they have not changed their style despite the alteration in the singing. Dreamlike vocals are also present here. A great end to the EP.
I’m looking forward to hearing more from Fraktions. This EP is a great introduction to what they can do. I like the vibe and loved the dreamlike vocals over the top. I equally enjoyed the Jekyll and Hyde aspect to this record, the way that the change of style of vocals can give us a wake up call and make us view the record, the band and the world differently just for a second. A band with bags of ability but who are prepared to take risks, mix it up and see where this musical journey is going to lead them.
Anguish is out on August 12th.