Fragment Soul - Galois Paradox

Artist: Fragment Soul

Album Title: Galois Paradox

Label: Wormholedeath

Date of Release: 23 February 2024

It’s that age old conundrum: when does an EP become a full-length album? Or, indeed, when does a full-length album become an EP? That’s the question when faced with ‘Galois Paradox’, the latest release from Fragment Soul. This release is referred to as an EP by the record label, Wormholedeath but, at around the twenty-seven-minute mark, it’s almost as long as many extreme metal records, death and grindcore, most predominantly. However, being a self-titled ‘dark prog doom metal’ band, and with ‘Galois Paradox’ only consisting of five songs, it’s probably fair to say that this is an EP. So EP I shall call it from here on in. Mind you, does anyone really care? And, as such, have I just rambled on for absolutely no purpose? Ah, damn.

Moving on, those unfamiliar with the work of Fragmebnt Soul until now will be unlikely to know that ‘Galois Paradox’ represents just the second studio outing for the Greek/Canadian outfit, having released their debut album, ‘Axoim Of Choice’ midway through 2021. I must admit that the debut largely passed me by, despite boasting the appearances of both Heike Langhams (Draconian) and Daylight Dies’ Egan O’Rourke. I therefore come to ‘Galois Paradox’ without expectations, other than that provided by the moody and atmospheric cover artwork courtesy of Dimitris Tzortzis. Oh, and the fact that the core of the band is based in Corfu, my favourite of the Greek islands and a frequent family holiday destination. In fact, I’m planning on returning this summer.

I’m rambling again, damn it. No longer, though, because I can now turn to the music and that’s where things do get much more interesting. Within the five compositions, the sextet seek to explore the darker, more melancholy side of life and human emotions. As the press release puts it, Fragment Soul ‘transcends the ordinary and takes the listener on a transcendent voyage through the human psyche.’ And they wrap this up in music that’s intriguing, multi-layered, and insidiously hypnotic and strangely compelling.

On a first listen, I was drawn to the music, although I’d have been hard-pressed to say that I loved it. Since then, the ponderous yet majestic songs have burrowed their way into my affections to a point where I am listening to ‘Galois Paradox’ on a pretty frequent basis. Of late, I have found myself surrounded by some pretty heavy and extreme music and whilst this isn’t ‘soft’ by any means, it has offered a welcome change of pace, quite literally, from the breakneck blood and thunder of other albums.

At the centre of the Fragment Soul sound, sit vocalists Mark Durkee and Tamara (Vila) Filipovic who work expertly in tandem to deliver the various solemn messages that the band explore. Both are blessed with smooth and mellifluous voices, allowing the music to come across as ethereal at times, whilst almost whimsical at others. There is a consistency across the songs but opener ‘Eternal Night In Death’ is probably my favourite overall. It starts off gently with clean picked guitar notes from Dimitris Louvroa, drenched by the dense, floating synths of Achilleas Adamidis. It’s all underpinned by Stefanos Meletiou’s reserved drumming and Spiros Georgiou’s deep, rumbling bass notes that cut through the music with ease and assuredness. But it’s the duetting vocals of Vila and Durkee that provide the extra layers of emotion and melody, catching my ears as they do.

Fragment Soul - Galois Paradox

We’re well over four minutes into the opener before there’s even a hint of overt metallic muscle, although you can sense the increase of tension, as the song builds-up to unleash some heavier, distorted guitar notes across the second half of the song. Even then, the darkness and the subtlety of the music is not drowned out, or marginalised; the heavier climes just add to the overall sense of dark menace and melancholy that saturates this song.

The piano that introduces the much shorter ‘All That I Despise’ is beautiful, whilst the heaviness is brought into play almost immediately to good effect. But, after the more bruising opening, we’re plunged into a much more ambient, almost dark pop-like environment. Durkee takes the lead with the vocals, whilst acoustic strumming can be heard to add extra texture to what’s a much more dreamlike track overall, for the most part.

‘The Pain Ceased’ is another slow-burn composition that revels in the ebb and flow of heaviness and quiet minimalism, whilst the spoken-word whispered vocals of Vila are a really welcome touch, offering variety within a framework that’s sometimes quite constricting. Meanwhile, ‘A Faceless God’ sets off with the heaviest intent of any song on this release. It lurches and churns initially before once again seeking to explore some dark minimalist recesses. Once again, the bass of Spiros Georgiou is arguably the standout instrument such is its rich and commanding tones, but I find myself mesmerized by the magnetic darkness of the entire song if truth be told.

The EP is rounded out by ‘This Empty Dream’, a three-minute closing piece led by the piano and synths of Achilleas Adamidis and the breathy tones of Vila. It’s yet more minimalist beauty, but with more of that palpably dark and sombre hue in which the entire EP is bathed.

I suspect that ‘Galois Paradox’ will not be to everyone’s taste. It doesn’t provide an immediacy that many will be looking for, it’s incredibly melancholy for the most part, there are no faster passages to get the blood pumping, and some of the melodic interplay takes some time to click. But, there’s something about this EP that draws me in time and again. Therefore, I definitely recommend that you check out Fragment Soul and ‘Galois Paradox’ because you may also fall for its charms.

The Score of Much Metal: 85%



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