Progressive Metal…those are some tough waters to navigate. For every band that plays music people actually want to hear, there are ten more who just descend into technical wankery and “Ooh, look what I can do!” passages. That being said, I was more than impressed with Montreal’s FRACTAL CYPHER and their self-released debut The Human Paradox. They manage to find that perfect balance between esoteric and accessible, and they exploit it over and over. Seriously, opener ‘Lost” is over eight minutes long, but it sure as shit doesn’t feel like it at all. “Endless Circle” is all power and fury from beginning to end, and each one of the members gets a chance to shine.
And speaking of that, next song “Shining a While” has a real distinct DREAM THEATER feel to it, sounding at times like “Another Day”, “Metropolis Pt. 1”, and “Surrounded”, all in the same track! Now this is not a dig, or a bad thing, it’s just an observation. Either way, the band is in top form. “Prison Planet” was one of my favorites because Vincent Bruneau’s guitars and Ludovick Daoust’s keyboards set the scene, and provide an ambience. I also really loved “Imminent Extinction” because it’s heavy in all the right places, while the players get to show off their chops. It also happens to be one of the more crushing tunes on the disc.
“Final Abode” is another eight-minute epic and has everyone in the group going for broke, especially drummer Steven Cope and bassist Tommy Fradette. These two are in total synch and nothing is gonna make them deviate from their path to greatness. With all of this lavish praise I’ve heaped upon the band, you might be wondering about the vocals. Relax, I’m getting there. Singer Simon Lavoie has a great voice which is perfectly suited for the music. He also has quite a range and I guarantee you’ll hear his name a lot more in future.
“Awakening” is a very pretty ballad and makes for a nice change of pace. Then “Idles World” goes and gets all “Hulk Smash!” and will have you reaching for your inhaler if you own one. Jeezus, man! This track will fuck you up, down, and sideways. Closing things out is “Ghost of Myself” which finds each and every band member putting forth their best effort. It’s like they had a team meeting and said, “We have to go out on a home run!” Guess what? They did! This is hands down the best song on the record.
When it’s all said and done FRACTAL CYPHER, with The Human Paradox, have delivered an album that will appeal to fans of prog metal as well as the guys like me who don’t give a shit about the players’ ability. We just want good SONGS, and this band delivers those in spades. Grab your copy now, order it if you have to, but make sure to get it so you can bask in the greatness. This is a group of guys who can play their asses off, and from where I’m sitting their future looks bright.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Ghost of Myself”, “Prison Planet”, “Imminent Extinction”, “Final Abode”, “Idles World”