First Fragment – Gloire Eternelle (Unique Leader)

Wednesday, 27th October 2021
Rating: 8/10

First Fragment’s debut, Dasein, was a wondrous adventure in tech death.  It managed to strike a delicate balance between furious, raging tech death metal speeds and some genuinely fun and engaging melodies.  You could really dig into the masterful musicianship, but you also had the ability to listen to it for some catchy riffs too.  So a long return on the follow-up in Gloire Eternelle means greater expectations, and that’s where it also falls a bit short.

Gloire Eternelle is astoundingly ambitious.  At times, it’s hard to really call it tech death as it continues further into more neoclassical metal than anything else.  But it’s tethered by harsh vocals and sometimes explosive drumming, which is bound to satiate the extreme community.  At 74-minutes in length, it’s a monolithic event to try to get through it all at once.  As this scribe often gripes about in the tech scene, the brain can only absorb so much per listen and this extended jaunt will all but scramble some minds completely.  The music is impressive, in fact the way that the music is weaved and keeps that playful nature from Dasein while upping the stakes makes it one of the most intricate, ear-candy-fueled listens you’ll hear this year.  A cut like “Soif Brulante” walks confidently on a tightrope of balance with swagger and finesse with a bevy of fanciful melodies and aggressive, high-tempo riffing.  It’s high caliber stuff that most in the genre can’t even compete with and deserves some serious recognition for the songwriting. One must be a very patient person, which much free time, to really get the most out of Gloire Eternelle.  Which on one hand is a triumphant, but it’s also its downfall.

Gloire Eternelle will be a very niche album.  It’s grandiose and towering, and for those who live and die by the most dazzling tech-death fireworks, it will easily be something worth dissecting and cherishing for the remainder of 2021.  But to the more casual fan, it’s damn near unapproachable with its high ambitions and sheer songwriting will.  Which side of the divide you fall on will ultimately determine your thoughts on this potent offering.

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