Sunburst - Fragments of CreationIt’s well known that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with power metal and progressive/power. Some of my favorite bands ever—Symphony X and Blind Guardian the most obvious among them—fall into this category, and I keep an ever-watchful eye peeled for new additions to my catalogue. Yet the genre is also plagued by some serious annoyances for me. First, many of the most popular vocalists are people who I find nigh-on unlistenable (Warrel Dane). Second, unlike my esteemed colleague and dictatorial collaborator Lieutenant Corporal Steel Druhm, I find that much of the music being produced within this scene just isn’t terribly heavy. Bands that others worship—see Anubis Gate—feel washed out and bland, offering up little “metal” to keep me engaged.1

When I popped on Sunburst‘s Fragments of Creation it was clear that it suffered from neither tepid songwriting or irritating vocals. Instead, Fragments of Creation is a tight record, chock full of fat riffs, slick songs, and hooky melodies. It barrels out the door with the appropriately named “Out of This World” and it doesn’t let up until the 12 minute epic “Remedy of My Heart” kicks in. On the way, these Greeks demonstrate that “metal” and “progressive” certainly can still coexist in the same sentence. There’s a genuinely heavy crunch to these tracks, reminiscent of the later approach of SX or at times even Nocturnal Rites.

While vocalist Vasilis Georgiou does have classic “power metal voice,” he doesn’t push his way into what I once, in a previously life, infamously called “That Guy from Sweden” territory. Rather, while he effects tone that nudges in on “guys who could have sung for Yngwie,” he’s got a touch and feel that so many power metal vocalists lack. On the album’s epic, “Remedy of My Heart,” his falsettos are delivered with a touch that he can also blend with a raspier growl when he wants it. His power and range or excellent; rather than sounding like he’s pushing for the upper ranges of his vocals without concern for what he’s actually capable of, Georgiou shows off that he’s a consummate veteran. On every song he works within himself and complements slick riffs with vocal gymnastics—even going so far as to growl in different spots!

With those problems out of the way, listeners are free to sit back and enjoy the slab of metal that is Fragments of Creation. From the driving and chunky (“Reincarnation” or “Beyond the Darkest Sun”) to the mid-paced and noodly (“Forevermore” and “Dementia”), these guys balance their riffs well. All the songs on here, be they a bit softer or a bit heavier, are quality, but the peak for me is probably “End of the Game,” which features stellar riffs and Georgiou at his absolute best. It helps that Gus Drax (y’know, of Paradox and Suicidal Angels) is swinging the axe for Sunburst because his chops are immense. Drax’s virtuoso riffing and solos work in perfect tact with Kostas Milonas (also of Paradox) who’s behind the kit and Nick Grey (wait, he’s not Greek!) holding down the low end. Unfortunately, the low end that Grey is holding down is a lot more buried than I’d like it to be because: modern production.

Sunburst 2016

While Sunburst bucks the trend of testicle-less power/prog that’s been plaguing the genre for the past decade, they’re certainly not challenging the status quo when it comes to production. Fragments of Creation is—like every single power metal record I have reviewed in the last 5 (10?) years—over-produced. The drums are flat, the bass is buried, the guitars are chunky and crunchy, and there’s too damned much tinkly synth thrown in to make things feel busier than it actually is. The writing here is good—with no real filler and the only song that breaks the flow is the closer, which makes it quite easy to just skip if you’re not in the mood—but when the guys over at r/PowerMetal complain about how we never score power metal high, it might have to do with just how uniform the genre is these days. While Fragments of Creation knocks out ballsy power/prog that is a blast to listen to and to which I’ve come back dozens of times, the record is produced just like Angra, StratovariusMyrathInnerWishSerenity, Brainstorm… I could literally just copy and paste my critiques of the sound in each of these reviews. When will enough be enough?

That rant might seem like a big caveat, but I think you should remember that I’ve listened to this album dozens of times and think it’s very good. Despite being frustrated with the production, these guys have serious chops, excellent songs and the record has a nearly flawless flow. Sunburst is a band whose debut album is genuinely good and, while totally unexpected, is very much welcome. I recommend Fragments of Creation to fans of prog, power, and thrash. Sunburst breathes life into my hope that the scene will start feeling like metal again!


Rating: Very Good!
DR: 5 | Media Reviewed: 192 kb/s mp3
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Websites: facebook.com/sunburstofficial | Buy this on BandCamp
Released Worldwide: February 26th, 2016

Show 1 footnote

  1. Aaaaaand there goes the comment section. “Ermahgerd, you don’t like Warrel Dane or Anubis Gate but you gave that drone record a 4/5?!?!”

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  • robpal

    Great to see the review of this one here!
    Very mature debut album, been spinning it a lot last month. Reminds me a lot of Conception.

    Btw, new Oceans Of Time has just been released. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about them, AMG: http://www.angrymetalguy.com/things-you-might-have-missed-2012-oceans-of-time-faces/

    • Actually, Druhm reviewed that and I don’t know that I ever heard it. What label?

      • robpal

        Lazz Music, I don’t know it to be honest. And they announced the premiere… a week in advance, haha.

    • Dammit, we missed it.

      • Zadion

        yo I know this is a late comment, but my favorite part of that review is the fact it was reviewed per my recommendation way back when y’all rarely took reader recommendations. :P

        Also, I don’t know if you ever got around to listening to it, but their latest record is definitely not as good as Faces unfortunately.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I have always seen the word “mature” as something of a backhanded insult when referring to Metal. Mature as in when you stop drinking and partying and rocking out and start worrying about paying bills and building investment portfolios. Usually I see “mature” is an euphemism for “sellout” because the guys in the band “matured” and made an album with the clear intent and goal of selling more records.
      I am not saying that is the way you’re using the word this time, I am sure you mean it as a compliment, I just wanted to point out how the same word can mean different things to different people.

  • Darren

    I really like this album. The vocalist has a bit of Roy Khan about him with the vocal theatrics but also can do the aggression convincingly as well – and I agree that it’s ultimately the vocals that determine whether I can continue to listen to a band.

    • Kryopsis

      When it comes to Power Metal, vocals can make or break a band. For instance, I can understand the appeal of Pyramaze… in theory. In practice, I just can’t get past the vocals. I grew up listening to Rhapsody, Sonata Arctica and Blind Guardian but even I have to draw a line somewhere. I very much appreciate that the vocalist of Sunburst is actually focusing on singing and not trying to shatter crystal goblets with the power of his voooooooiiiiiiiiiice.

      • Darren

        I was the same as you with Pyramaze until their latest album – I really like their new vocalist and feel that he even outshines the rest of the band on occasion.

        • BaboonKing

          So you liked neither Lance King *nor* Matt Barlow?

          • Darren

            I like both of them, actually, especially Matt Barlow’s earlier Iced Earth stuff – just not so much with Pyramaze. It just didn’t click with me like the latest one did, I guess. I’m not sure I have a more rational explanation for it than that.

          • BaboonKing

            Fair enough. Disciples of the Sun is probably their best record, and their new singer is pretty good. I still would have liked to see what Urban Breed could have done with them, but oh well, it wasn’t meant to be.

          • Barlow is one of my favorites ever. I fucking love his vocals so much. Really great.

  • Feytalist

    All this review tells me is “You need to listen to this as soon as possible.” And so I will do.

    But in the meantime; I really like that album cover.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      That album cover made me realize we have reached a point when one no longer can tell a Tech-Death abum from a Prog-Power album just by looking at the cover.

  • Rick Capranica

    I wish you guys would review Helion Prime. Excellent debut.

    • No promo. *shrugs*

      • Rick Capranica

        Too bad. It’s posted on YouTube though. I can’t stop listening to it

    • BaboonKing

      Listening to Helion Prime. Sounds good, thanks for the tip! And that cover… I have to agree, this needs a review ASAP. :)

      If you want some more quality female fronted power metal, check out A Sound of Thunder and Mind Maze.

      • Rick Capranica

        I already like A Sound of Thunder…I’ll have to check out Mind Maze

    • FutureBeyondSatan

      Listening now. Bought it on Bandcamp. Very good. Thanx!

  • ElectricEye

    The loudness factor fatigues my ears. Can’t imagine listening to this for 60 minutes even if it does sound pretty good.

    • Level matched. It sounds flatter, which sucks, but I find it less fatiguing.

  • spheric666

    Jesus christ, I am half way through and it’s a blast! 90’s power/prog metal at its best.

  • David D.

    Has a heavy feel similar to Pathosray on their last album. Loving this

  • Kryopsis

    This is the album I always wanted Anubis Gate to produce!

  • Nope

    Hey, don’t knock us at /r/PowerMetal, only the babies complain about bad reviews.

    Right now the coolest stuff is in underground releases anyways.

    And we don’t just like power metal. Progpower is amazing these days.

  • Exitium

    Well, you might not like Warrel Dane, but you really must like Nevermore, since this band sounds like it’s trying to do a mashup of Nevermore and Conception, with Roy Khan on vocals. Gotta agree about most power metal anymore being pretty weak, although it’s a toss up which is worse: power or prog. Since the majority of the more well known prog bands tried aping the dreadfully dull Dream Theater style.

  • AngryMetalBird

    my power metal times lay far behind me but I really like this one! great review!

  • Alex Benedict

    Power metal hasn’t sounded this good to me for a while
    This probably isn’t the right place, but someone needs to get on Hope for the Dying’s Legacy

  • I like this! (Though I have to say I don’t see anything wrong with not having testicles, so the descriptor might not be the best.)

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Not having testicles is cool for a lady, I guess.

    • Touché. I will now rightfully be quoted in a dissertation about androcentrism in metal. Thanks for calling me out on that.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    Lieutenant Corporal? You making up ranks? And take that back about WD!!! Semper Fi

    • As a dictator I get to make up whatever I want! What’s the point otherwise!?

      • FutureBeyondSatan

        I just can’t picture the insignia for Lt. Corporal. Or the purpose. Maybe a fitting title for Druhm.

  • Jón Aldará

    Warrel Dane nigh on unlistenable?! Hmm, that just put a serious dent in the Angry Metal Cred ;)

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    This guy REALLY sounds like Roy Khan.

  • nomrom3

    I am really liking this album. This is the sound I’ve been looking for in power metal recently, and I didn’t even know it.

  • Gabriel PérezMolphe

    Power metal and Thrash metal haven’t produced a band with distinguishable sound or anyting interesting in a lot of years, is just the same exact sound sometimes better executed than others. Still I check some releases because is the genre that got me into metal(prog-power). The embeded track at least (like the review stated), doesn’t sound testicle-less.

  • Trevor

    This is absolutely fantastic, thank you for the recommendation!

  • BaboonKing

    Nice find, thank you AMG!

    Interestingly, the guitar player and the singer have a side project called “Black Fate” which isn’t half bad either, even though it trades the Nevermore influence for a bit of Kamelot worship (specially on the vocals).

    • BaboonKing

      Oh, and also, if anyone liked this, you may want to check out Psycrence, another Greek band with a similar style.

  • Jaba

    The mix hurts my ears…not only the synth sounds you’ve mentioned, but also the way the vocals are cutting through the mix, it’s just too sharp and edgy. I’ve found myself continuously lowering the volume to be able to tolerate their sound which is a pity!

  • junkyhead

    Got a Nevermore (during the Enemies of Reality) era feeling when the first tune started, specially the guitar tone. Enjoying!

  • Assbutt

    Every Greek metal band has to have someone named Gus, apparently. This is definitely a solid album, though!

    Any plans to check out the new Blaze Bayley album, AMG?

    • What if it’s just the same Gus? And yeah, I’ll be reviewing it.

  • Phil Daly

    I’m not normally one for power metal, but this has just enough heft to it to make me want to investigate further. Bits of it really remind me of Blaze’s The Man Who Would Not Die and Promise and Terror, especially the tone and mood of the solos. On a related power metal note, recently found a local band who I think deserve some attention, so would urge folks to have a listen to “Caerus” by Hekz. No connection to them, but if you like this, you’ll likely enjoy.

  • Bryan Stroup

    I’m really surprised that there were no Kamelot or Nevermore comparisons (other than naming Warrel Dane as someone you don’t like). Regardless, this album just screams Conception.