Fractal Generator – Macrocosmos Review

In spite of death metal nowhere near being my forte, it always ends up being near and dear to my heart. Albums from strange acts like Ulcerate, Abyssal, and Desolate Shrine repeatedly end up on my AOTY lists, and while I appreciate acts like the Swedeath Cleric, the slammy Afterbirth, or the cosmic OSDM Blood Incantation, I always strain to accurately portray their respective sounds. For whatever reason, down-tuned blasting is way more difficult to write about than barbed wire toned tremolos, but for a fresh new ring into 2021, why not give it a spin? Does Canadian trio Fractal Generator’s early bird Macrocosmos get the worm? Or does it fall to the omni-aware metal scrutiny night owl always waiting in the twilight?

Fractal Generator is a Sudbury, Ontario trio with a demo and a full-length under their belt. Boasting a range of experimental enactments incorporated into their death metal foundation, including black, grind, and warped melody, it’s a dense listen full of dynamics and movements: blasting grindcore sections, grim atmosphere, chunky complex riffs, and strange melodies and guitar tricks with seamless transition between. Picking up where predecessor Apotheosynthesis left off, Macrocosmos perhaps plays it a tad too safe to make the impact it clearly can, but Fractal Generator’s songwriting and flurry of ideas warrant a listen.

Fractal Generator makes a habit of tastefully cherry-picking its influences, ultimately sounding a bit like The Black Dahlia Murder covering Portal’s ION. That’s what’s so intriguing about these Canucks: while groups like Portal or Ulcerate revel in their unlistenable sounds, there is an undeniable accessibility in Macrocosmos. Benefited by nicely digestible track-lengths, the best cuts are those that balance the blistering with the chunky and the contemplative. Songs like “Aeon,” “Shadows of Infinity,” or “Primordial” are relentless Dying Fetus-meets-Gigan fare, utilizing blistering spazzy heaviness with chunky riffs and freakout flourishes of strange melody or tricks (the glitch in “Shadows of Infinity” legit scared me). Meanwhile, the title track, “Chaosphere,” and closer “Ethereal” are more cosmically contemplative in nature, like a love-child of Ulcerate and Wormed, dissonant plucking and haunting repetition stealing the spotlight while strange vocal tricks soar above the fray. The production of Macrocosmos is also of note, as it feels dense enough for its blistering standard, while chunkier riffs and melodies have the clarity to shine.

In spite of Macrocosmos’ willingness to experiment, Fractal Generator’s only sin is its comparative safeness. While it’s difficult to get through Portal’s painfully dissonant ION or Ulcerate’s bone-crushing Everything is Fire, these albums receive fame for unwavering adherence to their central theme, despite inaccessibility. While Fractal Generator’s sound certainly hints at its cosmic theme, it can feel as though its warped experimentation doesn’t go far enough in places, and it never quite reaches the heights promised by its influences. This is perhaps due to the production, that while helping its deathier heft, the wonky experimentation has a tendency to be swallowed up in density. Finally, if I’m really nitpicking, vocals are hit or miss, relying on a raspier roar that doesn’t quite fit the mechanical vibe its cosmic theme suggests.

For its content, these Canucks’ have released something quite spectacular. Macrocosmos achieves mind-bending experimentation without forsaking its death metal teeth in a fluidly and intricately constructed work that always feels accessible in spite of its wild tricks. While its approachable nature can be a blessing and a curse in terms of memorability, Fractal Generator’s respect for the greats and their ability to construct songs that balance the razor’s edge of accessible and twisted shine through every facet of Macrocosmos. An early cosmic bird that gets the space worm indeed.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Everlasting Spew Records
Websites: |
Released Worldwide: January 15, 2021

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