Having read plenty of trash masquerading as philosophy and heard plenty of nonsensical music both within and without metal, I figured I was desensitized to weird stuff. Hell, the world seems almost desensitized to weirdness; Jacques Lacan, one of the biggest dolts to ever pretend to think about stuff and write it down, posited that an erection was equal to the square root of -1 and more than zero people took him seriously. With the hyper-dissonance of Portal effectively mainstreamed, Diablo Swing Orchestra along with Troldhaugen getting rave reviews for their zany yet fun music, and Obscura being a genre touchstone now, what’s weird? To my ears, Finland’s Corona Skies are. They’re weird to me in the only way that can be surprising anymore: enthusiastically doing something I just can’t wrap my head around.
In descriptions, what Corona Skies is doing doesn’t sound all that odd. To my ears, this is a combination of The Devin Townsend Project, Insomnium sans growling, and Andrew WK run through a filter of pop-metal a la Amaranthe with some Sworn to a Great Divide and onward Soilwork thrown into the mix. There’s also a big, cheesy power metal influence, the one that animates acts from Pyramaze to Theocracy. I could swear that I hear a bit of Bon Jovi in here as well, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Where it gets weird is the execution, because I have no idea what’s actually going on here and what Fragments of Reality is trying to achieve. This is strange because it doesn’t sound all that out of the ordinary in the sense of, say, iwrestledabearonce. It’s a more low-key style of odd.
The best track on Fragments of Reality is “The Sea of My Mediocrity,” a cheesy quasi-ballad that sounds like Insomnium up and decided to be Whitesnake playing Euro-power metal. It’s insanely cheesy, but Oskari Salovaara’s vocals, which sound a good bit like Einar’s from Leprous with less range, manage to work like a charm and add to the song. The midsection approaches being gorgeous, and the solo is fantastic. The annoyingly catchy “Big Boy’s Blues” has a distinctive pop-punk vibe, channeling Green Day in a way that reminds me of how carefree eighth grade was when “Holiday” was a big deal. I don’t want to like it, but I can’t help myself; the intended nostalgia trip works. “Delirium Disco” sounds like Soilwork if they tapped Amaranthe’s keyboardist for production and input, and again, I can’t help but be a bit charmed by how carefree and catchy the whole affair is.
What I described liking above cannot possibly carry a whole record, and, lo and behold, it doesn’t. The downright bizarre “The Social Network” sounds like Nevermore playing mediocre party rock while a soundtrack to a Mega Man knockoff blares in the background. The midsection, featuring an impromptu rant against “parrot pictures” and “toilet duck-face pictures,” is good but doesn’t save the song. “Summer Bum” sounds like Sonic Adventure 2: Battle as played by Andrew WK who also decided to cover “Boys of Summer” at the same time. While not offensively bad, it’s certainly a head-scratcher that doesn’t have a big impact otherwise. “Business Suits You” has a nifty Iron Maiden style riff that it revolves around, but the rest of the song sounds like bland Euro-power metal and a softer, cheesier Children of Bodom save a few good moments that sound like throwaways. “Falling Sky” comes so close to being a quality power ballad but falls maddeningly short, largely thanks to it not ending when it sounds like it should have but continuing on with an extended outro instead.
Corona Skies opt for a pristine production here, and it suits them well. It’s not exactly great, but their music would sound odd should it be produced differently. Cymbals are pushed a bit too far back for my liking thanks to the compression, and the bass is wont to lose itself like it’s enjoying mom’s spaghetti, but it’s tolerable. So is the music overall, but it’s not much more than that. This isn’t your go-to party metal like Alestorm or your go-to catchy stuff like Pyramaze. It’s odd and different in a somewhat subtle way, an experiment that left me neither enthused nor repulsed. I would say it’s worth checking out, but I’m positive a lot of metalheads will loathe Fragments of Reality. I’m glad I gave it a fair shake because there’s some okay stuff here. It just won’t be shakin’ very often in the future.