If 2015 has been skimping on anything (other than good death metal), it’s spheres. Whereas I researched for months in order to compile a list of 2014’s roundest and most symmetrical album art, we haven’t seen enough roll past this year to play a game of nine-ball with. They’re so infrequent that even semi-spherical album covers, like this one for Apotheosynthesis, the debut of Canadian tech-death outfit Fractal Generator, have started to ping on my radar. And with a name like that, who needs a sphere to know that listeners are in for around forty minutes of sci-fi wank made by people that read the Wikipedia page on the Mandelbrot set once.
Apotheosynthesis takes a while to get going; “Cycle” and “Face of the Apocalypse” are high-velocity death metal in the vein of Nile with some Immolation thrown in, but fail to leave much of an impression. “Abandon Earth” takes a turn for the memorable with repetitive melodic tapping leading the nonstop blast of the drums to create a much more appropriate atmosphere. To keep the album fresh, Fractal Generator throw in beeps, clicks, and whistles every once in a while, which do their job in somewhat breaking up the monotony of the relentless riffing and drums and remind me of my early days at AMG reviewing Slave Zero, who come to think of it, are thematically almost identical to Fractal Generator.
“Paragon” is another standout, but after its relatively interesting opening riff, it does what all of the album’s other songs do after their intro riffs and falls into a more or less continuous parade of old Nile riffs and blast beats. It’s a frustrating formula that robs songs of identity in exchange for speed. The band puts in all of the stops for closing piece “Reflections,” which takes a slower pace and focuses on atmosphere and melody rather than speed. Because it’s much more diverse and interesting than the album’s other eight tracks, “Reflections” ends up as the album’s best song, despite being a falling-action instrumental piece and including – and I’m not joking here – Darth Vader-esque SCUBA breathing.
Fractal Generator gets their riffs by way of Immolation, their drumming through Nile and their themes and atmosphere from Obscura. It’s at times an unstable mix, with the percussion becoming monotonous white noise under the weight of the guitar and the cosmic sci-fi horseshit constantly being roared at you, but there are moments when the band really pulls it off. That being said, most of my experience with the album consisted of wanting it to be over with alternating degrees of intensity. George Kollias style drumming, while always technically stunning, becomes tiresome quickly and the band rarely takes action towards rhythmically garnishing their songs, focusing on how to most efficiently transform guitar picks into dust.
While Fractal Generator are by no means bad, their insistence on maintaining a single tempo for nearly forty minutes and disinterest in rhythmic variation cripple what could have been a decent debut from an obviously talented group. Apotheosynthesis is bearably silly, competently performed and surprisingly (though only in relation to its less than stellar peers) well-mastered, but it lacks the diversity that would make repeated listens a pleasure rather than a chore. The Magic Eight Ball says “Try Again.”