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Fractal Gates “One with Dawn” album by Review Curtis J. Dupree

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Six years after their last album, French “progressive sci-fi melodic death metal”—to quote the press release—band Fractal Gates has returned with One with Dawn. One of the first questions upon reading the press release is whether or not the genre description fits. I would say that it does indeed. The basic core here is melodic death metal. In the past I’ve made my issues with melodeath clear— for one, sometimes it just lacks hooks and riffs, and substitutes Maidenesque guitar work in their place. I am pleased to say that this critique does not apply to Fractal Gates. While there are certainly plenty of melodic guitar leads to go around here, there are also a good number of hooks and some killer riffs present, as well.

The album boasts a warm sound, sounding neither muddy nor sterile. The guitar work is all top-notch, with an abundance of tasteful licks and leads throughout. The rhythm section always plays to complement the songs. The synth works adds appropriate atmosphere. Finally, the vocals are excellent, ranging from the harsh vocals common to death metal to lovely, melodic singing.  

Track 1, “Visions XIII,” is a compelling instrumental that helps set the stage for the rest of the album. The first full song, “Shining Fall,” kicks off with a bang, giving us nice riff work and compelling leads. The vocals begin very softly before kicking in fully. I really like the blend of harsh vocals with the melodic leads—a trait common in melodeath, but used to particularly good effect here. The rhythmic work on this song is also top-notch, and the hooks are compelling.

Beginning with a lovely guitar melody, “Seamless Days” embraces the melodic end of melodeath, but not without giving us some good riffing. Fractal Gates manages to give us nice guitar leads without resorting to noodling—which means that the leads are quite memorable. This song also boasts a lovely guitar solo. 

A ringing guitar lick opens “Into the Unknown,” before the song kicks in with some more appealing lead and riff work. The vocals here are clean and are sung quite well. Harsh vocals return for the chorus and are used well. The rhythm underneath the verses drives it home. 

When the Distance Paints Us” fades in slowly with a lovely, haunting atmosphere. The drum work here is a standout. The riff that kicks in around the 40-second mark is one of the best on the album. What we have here is another exemplary melodeath tune. 

Earthbound” begins with strong riffing and leads. We also get a return of clean vocals and they are utilized very well here, giving the song another quality hook. Guitar licks are once again irresistibly melodic. 

The guitar work takes a more subdued approach on “Half Alive,” without abandoning the rest of the album’s ethos. On the whole, this song is probably not one of the most compelling on the album, but it’s solid nonetheless and not without its share of hooks. 

Visions XIV” is another brief interlude, featuring an appropriate use of keyboards to convey atmosphere. These interludes are not overdone, thankfully, and serve to strengthen the album’s flow rather than detract from it.

One with Dawn” continues the more subdued approach found on “Half Alive.” The verses give us quiet music with lovely clean singing before the harsh vocals and heavier music comes back in. This juxtaposition of brutality and melody is done well. 

Hyperstate” kicks the intensity back up and sports forceful rhythms. Nevertheless, the song still manages to drip with atmosphere befitting the album. We also get some compelling riffs. 

Serenity” is classy melodeath. The riff work here could be strengthened, but the melodic leads are nice. I also like the rhythm work here and the hooks are appealing. 

Beginning at full throttle is “Severance.” The driving rhythms in the verse are quite compelling. The riff work here is noteworthy. This song is a late album highlight. 

A lilting acoustic guitar opens “Echoing Motions” before lovely singing comes in. This song ebbs and flows between softer and heavier, although it remains more ballad-like than intense. The melodies here are quite appealing. “Visions XV” closes the album proper before we get two re-recordings of previous Fractal Gates songs (“The Eclipse,” “Skies of Orion”).

Fractal Gates have given us a winner with One with Dawn. The songwriting is compelling, the musicianship is excellent, and the atmosphere is engaging. If you like melodic death metal it’s hard to do much better than One with Dawn, and you should consider it an essential purchase. 

Curtis’ 8.5/10

fractal gates album

Tracklist:
Visions XIII 1:19
Shining Fall 4:08
Seamless Days 4:00
Into the Unknown 3:41
When the Distance Paints Us 4:45
Earthbound 4:42
Half Alive 4:15
Visions XIV 1:28
One with Dawn 3:14
Hyperstate 3:34
Serenity 4:23
Severance 4:03
Echoing Motions 4:59
Visions XV 1:38
The Eclipse (2024) 4:14
Skies of Orion (2024) 4:38

Fractal Gates is : 
Stéphane Peudupin : Lead / Rhythm guitar, synths 
Sébastien Pierre : Vocals, synths 
Jérémy Briquet : Drums 
Antoine Verdier : Bass guitar 
Arnaud Hoarau : Rhythm guitar

Song compositions by Stéphane Peudupin and Sébastien Pierre
Solo on tracks 3 and 10 by Jari Lindholm (Enshine, Ex-Slumber)
Vocals on tracks 4 and 6 by Deibys Artigas
Vocals on track 9 and 13 by Egan O’Rourke (Daylight Dies)
Drums recorded by Juho Raïhä at Sonic Pump Studios Helsinki in January 2024 
Guitars and bass recorded by Stéphane Peudupin in July 2023 
Rhythmic guitars reamped by Juho Raïhä at Soundspiral Audio in February 2024 
Vocals recorded by Stéphane Peudupin in September 2023 
Mixing by Juho Raïhä at Soundspiral Audio in February 2024
Mastering by Tony Lindgren at Fascination Street Studios 2024

Artworks and video by Sébastien Pierre
Executive production : Fractal Gates

Timeline
Start 2009: 4 track demo
Mid 2009: “Altered State of Consciousness” CD 50mn
2013: “Beyond the Self” CD
2018: Release of the 3rd album “The Light That Shines” 12th may 2018!
2018: Reissue of sold out “Beyond the Self”
2021:  Released the instrumental version of “The Light That Shines”

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