FRAGARAK – Crypts of Dissimulation
The decision to play progressive music by a band is more often than not, a baby step being misinterpreted as a leap. Bands hear veterans in the genre play odd time signatures and technical music and the attempt to ape all of that usually results in an epic theatrical disaster. Mix some death metal intent into that soup and that’s another garnish too many.
All of that is exactly what New Delhi’s Fragarak is not. Right off the bat, the fact that the band’s promise of progressive death metal is lived up to in their debut record ‘Crypts of Dissimulation’ immediately makes them a minority in the aforementioned category. The music is not attempting to be a mind-warping treasure trove of riff mathematics nor is it aiming at a direct cranial assault of ‘brutality’. In fact, it is some of the most intelligent and brooding extreme music I have heard from the subcontinent. The album opens in a slow and measured way with ‘Savor the Defiance’. With an atmospheric, almost doom metal vibe to it, the song goes through nearly 10 minutes of narrative dark notes and time signature changes. Track 2, ‘Insurgence’ is where the album picks up speed. The riffs become faster and heavier and the singing continues to be a very Akerfeldt-inspired style. There are a few crafty bass licks here and there throughout the song and the entire album. The string-work on the whole is a well thought out arrangement between the rhythm and the lead registers of the band’s sound. There are portions where simple chords run on through a measure as the bass dances around the beat. Then there are portions with more adventurous shredding on the guitars.
The album’s breather instrumentals ‘Dissimulation: An Overture’ and final track ‘Psalm of Deliverance’ do well to add context to the album by tying the songs together in an almost thematic way. The sound of the overall album is a very dark and moody one. However, it is more ‘progressive’ than ‘death metal’ and touches the listener on a more emotive level rather than being a bludgeoning barrage of riffs. Strangely enough, this album has not garnered much attention despite all the good things about it. For people looking for intelligent and non-generic metal from India, this album is a must have.