AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö: Fracturus – Versus the Void

“AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö” is a time-honored tradition to showcase the most underground of the underground—the unsigned and unpromoted. This collective review treatment continues to exist to unite our writers in boot or bolster of the bands who remind us that, for better or worse, the metal underground exists as an important part of the global metal scene. The Rodeö rides on.”

In this year of the orb, 2023, we celebrate all that is heavy and brutal, as too does Canada’s freshly jacked tech death(core) troupe Fracturus with their cut-for-competition Versus the Void. Trimmed to let fiber ripple through sweat-glossed skin, this new act fronted by Alex LeBlanc, formerly of underground Canadian legends Neuraxis, has a loud and forceful statement to carve into those willing. As such, we’ve enlisted a few members of our own chiseled strike force, the crew of Heavy Moves Heavy, and others in need of mass-engorging reconstruction. In gains they trust, and in gains Fracturus may win you too. If you’re a fan, give ’em a follow on Facebook to explore their chronicles as later this month they go to the finals of Wacken Metal Battle Canada for an opportunity to hit the big stage this summer. Praise the orb, raise the hammers, and get heavy with Versus the Void. – Dolphin Whisperer

Fracturus // Versus the Void [March 3rd, 2023]

Kenstrosity: Quebec’s tech-death upstarts Fracturus hasn’t been active for very long at all—only just two years, in fact—and yet here we are, debut record in hand. At a lithe and light twenty-five minutes, Versus the Void toys the line between EP and LP.1 To set the tone, opener proper “Storm” exhibits stuttering palm-mutes and chugging breakdowns trading punches with a thoroughly tech-y percussive attack and a genre staple growl. Splitting the difference between early Gorod and Veil of Pnath, Fracturus also embeds an appreciated thread of melody into this truncated release. The title track revels in neoclassical leads and machine-gun blasts, while companion piece “Forget the End” maximizes the palm-mute technique to great effect and pairs it with nice clean picked melodies. I also enjoy the subtle drama built into the groovy songwriting of “Hand of Man” and closer “Rational/Animal” without wholly relying on synths or orchestrations as the crutch they often are. However, there just isn’t enough material here to keep me sated. Performances nail the quality benchmark for potentially great tech-death, and the emphasis on riffs over breakdowns strikes a good balance for my taste, but at the end of the day I feel underfed by the portion. If Fracturus would deliver two or three additional cuts of equal quality to what’s offered here on album two, then surely I’ll be infinitely more invested going forward. 3.0/5.0

Holdeneye: I don’t often reach for deathcore, but a well-timed breakdown sure is nice every now and again. Montreal’s Fracturus specializes in techy deathcore, and their debut Versus the Void is brief and to the point—and the point is apparently to crush your skull. The record may be just over 24 minutes long, but these guys have packed just enough melody and atmosphere into the whole to wonderfully contrast the brutal majority. First proper track “Storm” shows this dichotomy in action, beginning as a tech-death rager, moving into a breakdown section, then flaunting some heartfelt guitar leads. Versus the Void has been an excellent workout supplement for me the last couple of weeks. In fact, it’s revolutionized my glute training. The opening of “Dissolve” hits so hard that it induces dangerous involuntary gluteal contractions, a phenomenon I’ve dubbed “The Clenchening,” and I have thus changed the spelling of Fracturus to Fracture Ass. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this bite-sized morsel of tech, but I’ve routinely found myself spinning it again and again. 3.5/5.0

Dear Hollow: Who knew Montreal was so jacked, bro? Cuz Fracturus is tech death that lifts. Borrowing equally from Archspire as Dyscarnate, nimble technicality and crispy riffs exchange bone-crushing breakdowns and grooves. Deathcore-adjacent without skinny-dipping in Lake Djunz, Versus the Void features a variety that recalls the blistering intensity of Animosity and riffage of As They Sleep with a touch of blackened edge of early Dark Sermon. Suffice it to say, Fracturus has got some serious bite. Tracks like “Storm” and “Dissolve” feature a groove that settles hard and heavy, almost impossible to shake, while the bouncy rhythms and relentless blastbeats of “Versus the Void” and “Rational / Animal” contrast with the absolutely punishing downtuned riffage. These Quebecois know their trade, as the start-stop Archspire riffs have enough nimbleness to satisfy, but the downtuned punishment is tastefully tempered with blazing blastbeats to avoid descent into brodown muck. Versus the Void may not offer the world’s greatest groove- and -core-influenced tech-death album, as “Hand of Man” and “Forget the End” are relatively forgettable due to jarring songwriting inconsistencies. And Versus the Void plays things somewhat safe for such a brief runtime. But when Fracturus can get your head bobbing and your fists pumping, it’s hard to argue. 3.0/5.0

Thus Spoke: I hadn’t heard Fracturus prior to this Rodeö, but I liked them as soon as I did. With a style that channels technical death metal through a deathcore conduit in which minor melodic melodies abound, there’s a lot to love. Versus the Void is a whistle-stop tour of the various ways Fracturus can build up (“Storm,” “Forget the End”) and break down (“Versus the Void,” “Dissolve”) tempos, and adorn them with energetic, blistering riffs. They have a knack for crafting guitar parts that ascend groovily up a scale and then back down (“Forget the End,” “Rational/Animal”) which is just addictively good, and their use of rhythms fast (“Versus the Void”), fluid (“Storm,” “Rational/Animal”), and crawling (“Dissolve”) cannot fail to make you move. This is gym-tested and approved for your next heavy session—though you’ll want to listen to it a few times, as it’s not even twenty-five minutes long. There lies my main criticism—if you can call it that—I want more. The other would be the presence of standard needless intro “Ascension,” which I would just insert into the beginning of “Storm.” It’s not a big deal though. In struggling for meaningful drawbacks, I know Versus the Void is really something, despite coming in a small package. I’m excited for Fracturus’ next—hopefully longer—offering. Great.2

Itchymenace: Sometimes it’s difficult to keep personal biases in check. I appreciate the occasional mathcore beatdown but I find listening to an entire album of it exhausting. Fortunately, the rectal jack-hammering that is Versus the Void comes in at an economical 25 minutes. It’s long enough to supercharge your deadlifting routine without giving you PTSD from extended rapid-fire sewing machine rhythms. Fracturus is a talented and angry group of hyperactive Canadians. They embody the struggle I continually face with this type of music: yes, some of it, like the opening to “Dissolve,” sounds sweet as hell, but much of it beats with a mechanical heart that I feel indifferent to. There’s limited opportunity to connect with the music on an emotional level. The visceral onslaught is near relentless and the one-dimensional vocal performance adds little texture to the mix. Like Archspire, Revocation or Messhugah, I can appreciate the dedication that goes into crafting this type of music. Certain songs like the title track and “Dissolve” stand out, but much of it whips by with mechanical repetition. Curiously, on the title track the band uses Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death”—a poem about being stuck in a carriage for eternity—and that’s a little what this album sounds like. I’ll save a couple of tracks for leg day. 2.5/5.0

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Note to readers, for the purposes of Rodeö, we don’t have a rule against EPs if this is one. – Dolph
  2. That’s a 4.0 in case you forgot your decoder ring. – Dolph
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