Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Via Teeth Of The Divine : "Unique Leader looks to be having the same sort of outlandishly good year as it had in 2014 with the likes of Ohmnihilty, Inherit Disease, Ahtme, Omaphagia, and The Zenith Passage so far, and then you have the upcoming monster from Katalepsy still yet to come. But I’m pretty confident in stating that this will be my favorite UL release this year.
Canada’s First Fragment have been around since 2008 but only release a few demos and an EP in 2008, but know that they have featured in their line up, Phillip Boucher of Beyond Creation as well as Troy Fullerton of Severed Savior ( who recorded drums for this release) as well as current drummer Samuel Santiago formerly of Gorod. So you know the drums are top notch. Oh yeah.. Heard of a guy called Philippe Tougas? Ya know, the Canadian Dan Swano who once played in Vengeful and now also plays in Serocs, Chthe’ilist and Zealotry? Well he plays lead guitar here and it’s not what you’d expect considering his out put this year of more murky cavernous death metal.
First Fragment is super noodly tech death. Arpeggio, sweep filled melodic tech death. On steroids. Imagine if Obscura and Origin had a baby and Gorod was the surrogate…. and Herman Li of Dragonforce was a godparent…. and that baby was injected with a direct shot of pure epinephrine. Seriously, this is some really, outrageously over the top stuff, but not just purely clinical and soulless stuff. The Gorod influence is responsible for some really playful, full on neo-classically inspired melodies and leads, Lots of leads. If you don’t like a little fun in your death metal, don’t get this.
Obviously, the skill level of the players here is pretty well unmatched with years of Canadian tech death experience behind them, but what makes this stand out is the song writing that matches the skill with overwhelming shreddage that never lets up and delivers some truly memorable moments. yeah its self indulgent, yeah it’s virtually one hour long solo, but its soooooooooo fucking good. And its not just the guitars, the drums are on points and the powerful vocals (all in French) of original vocalist David Pilon are perfectly brutal but complimentary.
Where do I start? The space/cosmic themed ( I think…certainly not as obvious and laden with sci fi atmospherics as The Zenith Passage) Dasein (‘Design’) simply does not let up. It makes label mates The Zenith Passage or even Archspire and the new Vale of Pnath look like stoner doom. Even the instrumentals are full force; “L’Entite” is a full on Flamenco laced, tech death salsa party and so called ‘mellow’ number “Prélude en sol dièse mineur” is a finger shredding acoustic number that would get Paco De Lucia’s seal of approval. . So imagine what the other 9 ‘real’ songs are like? Well,standout opener “Le serment de Tsion” is pretty well the template, coming out of the gate with a dervish like intensity and featuring a very cool little swing/jaunt at the 1;46 mark that is an early show of the band’s skill and more playful delivery (and reminding me of Gorods “Rejoice the Soul”). The title track starts with yet more whimsy, but soon explodes into a completely insane vortex of tech death and a nifty bass solo.
“Émergence” follows “L’Entite” with a real throttler, this isn’t just alien, skillful and mischievous , it’s FAST as well. There are no slow songs, maybe a few little swings and jazzy bridges scattered in the loooooooong segments of shreddage (i.e. “Mordêtre Et Dénaissance”), but “Archétype” is the only track that any real sign of respite. My other favorite, “Gula” delivers some jaw dropping harmonies, some nice fretless bass twangs, some unique drum patterns and yet another cool little Gorod -ian swing/waltz bridge to the fray, making for a literally dizzylingly staggering track. “Voracité (Apothéose, Partie 1 and Partie 2 )” deliver two tracks- one a longer number with a neat little tango to close and a shorter, 2 minute relentless shred fest. as ig you need further incentive or idea what this sounds like, Dasein also features guest appearances from current and former members of Spawn Of Possession, Obscura, Inferi, Augury, and Elderoth. so there’s that as well.
At 56 minutes long the album should be exhausting, but its not and I’m grinning from ear to ear for the entire time, and often shaking my head in disbelief at the same time. Especially with a fucking 11 minute closer “Evhron”, which surprisingly is only about 3 minutes of atmospheric intro and closeout amid the finger cramping chaos. The crisp productions and almost continual arpeggios will annoy some, especially those used to Tougas’s other projects so far this year. And what a year he has having- but I’m certain this will be my favorite release he is involved with in 2016 as well one of my very favorite releases of the year."
Originally written by Erik T for Teethofthedivine.com