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Fractal Universe - Engram Of Decline album review

Gallic math-metallers prove less than the sum of their parts

The best tech-metal feels like a double espresso ingested through the nose; it doesn’t make sense but it just gives you a rush. These French newbies are unfortunately snorting decaf on their debut LP. Valentin Pelletier’s basswork is a technical whirlwind but it’s not exactly Gorguts. The riffs, solos and off-kilter drums are impressive, but there’s little in the way of actual songs. This is tech-metal for the sake of being showy. Most of this album sounds like it was nicked from Misha Mansoor’s bin, and that’s before the saxophone appears, paying pale homage to Shining. Vince Wilquin’s guttural bellows are fine, but it’s when he and the band briefly flirt with more melodic, ‘mainstream’ metal that things start to click. Sons Of Ignorance’s chorus is basically a b-side from Trivium’s The Crusade era, while Decline could’ve been plucked from Ascendancy. Even here, though, it’s derivative. Fractal Universe are great musicians but Engram… lacks an identity, becoming an hour of regressive tribute.