In the frenzy of a musical high, scouring my archives for a sample I needed, I stumbled upon a lone MP3 obtained probably over a decade ago, the song Negative Patterns. Standing as a ten minute epic of early Djent tone insanity, I scrambled to find the full record online. Turns out this band once opened for Meshuggah and this, their only record, was produced by none other than Fredrik Thordendal, who lends his distinct lead style for a solo on that same track. In that moment It felt like I had stumbled onto a gem but having had time to sit with it the take away isn't so good.
My excitement was mainly triggered by the Chaosphere / Nothing era tone. There may be a plethora of imitation and influenced bands around today but in 2002, not so much! It's also Meshuggah's later guitar work that became their legacy so finding a project in this vein is less common. In terms of originality, Fragment offers little new to the formula. Their singer emulates the flat monotone shouts of Jens and the guitar is a slug fest of all the same low end chugging arrangements. Anything higher up the fret board comes with the expectant "alien" melodic feel. Even the drums deploy the same tricks, switching from open hi-hat to splash cymbal to give a riff renewed groove.
With three mediocre interludes of reflective, astral ambience the four songs of erratic Extreme Metal barrage with little relation to its synth counterparts. They toil endlessly in a low end choppy slog of oddly timed grooves looping up under a 4/4 percussive pattern. Its remarkable how little creativity is brewed here. This monotone pummeling literally spans the runtime with differentiating one or two note grooves over and over again, endlessly. Discordant lead guitar refrains give the relentlessness relief but never lead to anything other than another churning of complex picking rhythms.
In all my supposed criticism, one can enjoy this record if your into this style, which I am. It has it's moments, occasions where some pivot into a new riff has renewed aggression and sway. What is disappointing is lack of originality. The group are somehow unable to put forth any new idea's Meshuggah had not already. Because of all this, my initial excitement faded quickly. Unknown is essentially a one trick pony and that trick isn't theirs. Competent production by Mr Thordendal, invigorates the musics aggression and tone, salvaging the best of what would of otherwise suffered. Worth a listen if you want more of the Chaosphere era sound!