Fragments of Unbecoming

Skywards: A Sylphe's Ascension

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To cut right to the point, Fragments of Unbecoming's Skywards: A Sylphe's Ascension isn't a very inspired release, sounding like the median of a half-dozen top-tier Swedish death metal acts, minus a few songwriting points -- and it doesn't help that the album's intro is copped wholesale from In Flames' The Jester Race to boot. So, first impressions aside (and that awkward mouthful of an English-as-a-second-language band name, which is so, uh, unbecoming), breathe deeply, and this four-piece reeks heavily of At the Gates and/or Dark Tranquillity, that is, melding Slayer and Iron Maiden somewhat convincingly (yawn), with solid performances, riffs, and melodies rendered mediocre by bland death vocals, predictable arrangements, and a yucky, synthetic snare drum that gives the occasional blastbeats that annoying typewriter-outta-control sound. Most songs blur by in flurries of notes, although "Insane Chaosphere" pours on the sludge like, maybe, Pestilence channeling Celtic Frost -- before the ghosts of Anders Bjorler and Martin Larsson come back to haunt again. That's not to say Skywards doesn't exhibit any promise or strong musicianship, but better songwriting makes albums like this more palatable -- along with originality, the lack thereof dragging Fragments of Unbecoming right smack into the middle to lower tier of the Swedish death metal heap.

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