Sound: Yes, another progressive metal album. But instead of the near-overused time signature changes, disjointed songs that go on for far too long and long instrumental sections. You're probably thinking, "Tell me, wise Snowman, how is Fracture any different?" I'll tell you, oh-so-innocent reader. I will tell you, soon.
Fracture is a Norwegian band and this is their debut. But after listening to it, you wouldn't imagine this to be a debut. It's tight (and not by progressive standards), clocking in at just over 40 minutes. It's also creative and rarely loses focus.
Now, I shall tell you why Fracture is different (and so good). They take the regular guitar work from any progressive band, add in heavier, thrashier riffs, make great use of power-metal-like keyboards and drums and a great vocalist. Not only do they have talent, but creativity and great songwriting. That's one hell of a combination.
Pal Strand is a very talented vocalist, combining the vocal range of James Labrie (Dream Theater), the power and awesomeness of Bruce Dickinson and a shriek a la Tim "Ripper" Owens (as seen on the track "Apple of Eden").
Wegard Golebiowski and Jostein Thomassen masterfully intertwine power metal guitar solos with heavy riffs, making for some great grooves and beats. However, the real stars are Per Morten Bergseth on drums and Lars Stian Havraas on bass, believe it or not. Bergseth has the ability and speed of a power metal drummer, but seems more hard-hitting and purposeful. These two create a very solid foundation for the music and allow for some great tracks.
The best tracks are the high-speed ones, like "Sulphur Preacher" and the title track. The acoustic work on "Soulcatcher" is beautiful and works quite well, while "Stranger Within" sounds eerily similar to Dio and has a great solo.
However, the only track I have something to complain about is "I Just Smile". It's disjointed, sloppy and poorly thought out and is very similar to the formula I stated in the introduction. But 8 fantastic tracks is still better than 95% of most albums nowadays. // 8
Lyrics: I didn't really pay close attention to the lyrics, but I liked what I heard. "Apple of Eden" has some great lyrics and symbolism (involving the apple of Eden, duh) and it is quite a great listen. As I've said, the vocals on this album are tremendous and are obviously inspired by some of the greats. // 8
Overall Impression: Fracture's debut album is obviously inspired by Dream Theater, but impose their own style and add a fresh twist to the prog metal genre in the process. If you like progressive metal, get this album. If you like clean, powerful vocals, get this album. If you like thrashy, heavy riffs, get this album. If you like power metal solos but not as crazy or overwhelming, get this album. I could go on, but I won't. So, to sum it up, get this album. // 9