Artist: Damned Spring Fragrantia
Imagine peering through a tear in the veil of time—looking through a rift in the galaxy. What is it you think you would see? Would you see depictions of strife and turmoil in faraway lands, or perhaps the mundane (if the term applies to the confirmation of alien life) lives of extraterrestrial species? Rather, perhaps one might see the world they live in–their own history and past—as it would have been in an alternate dimension? What would that experience be like–to know that stacked above and below you, there could be thousands of alternate realities and versions of yourself separated only by a thin layer of impermeable atmosphere? Likely, it would be akin to the surreal atmosphere found on Italian metalcore act Damned Spring Fragrantia’s full-length release, Divergences. Placing ethereal, flowing grooves alongside crushing, dissonant heaviness, Divergences is just that—a divergence from the standard and superficial “djent” sound taking progressive metalcore by storm. Rather, it is a unique and immersive experience which transcends entire galaxies to reach the listener’s ears.
Divergences is packed to the rafters with some of the most inventive and engaging instrumentation that progressive metalcore has seen to date. “Lost Shores,” for example, opens with a dynamic and bipolar blend of lightning-fast, marvelously technical blast beats and equally technical, speedy shredding which snares the listener’s ears and drags them along for the ride of their lives. Likewise, the album’s self-titled track features boundless levels of bone-crushing aggression which relentlessly attacks the listener, leaving them battered and defenseless for the following track, “The Refusal Effect,” which bounces back and forth between deeply chugged and bass-heavy pummeling with screeching, high-pitched squeals which feel as if they’re bound to tear the listener’s ears clean off. However, when Damned Spring Fragrantia aren’t beating and pounding at the listener with breakdown laden ferocity and speedy kicks to the gut, they are utilizing superiorly structured and speedily shredded riffs which invade the listener’s head and remain there, taking control of their thoughts and refusing to become dislodged.
It is Damned Spring Fragrantia’s proclivity towards technically intrusive and marvelously crafted song structure which enables them to flow so smoothly into an atmospheric and melodic realm. Rather than keep their feet planted on the ground, waging war on the listener with chug-packed heaviness, they often opt to take to the sky and soar towards the stars beyond. “Drowned In Cyan” showcases this superbly, beginning subtly, dipping into a lurching, heavy groove before bouncing back, soaring towards the sun with progressive, admittedly djent-y elements which relieve the listener of the accumulated pressure built up by Divergences equally pernicious knack for the heavy. While there are moments where the chugging and harsh, constant mid-range screams seem monotonous and grating, these don’t tend to last long before the band digs deep down and lets loose with boundless amounts of atmospheric harmonization. Guttural, dissonant heaviness and incessant, pummeling drumming seems to give way at the drop of a hat to crystal clear guitar and splashy, bouncy drum work that ambushes the listener with a pleasant and catchy attack of melody.
Fortunately for Damned Spring Fragrantia, Divergences bounces back and forth between these two extremes like a ping pong ball at a tournament final match—not staying in one place for terrible long. The vocals already lend a relatively unwelcome amount of monotony to the album, which would be enough to hold the album back from the upper echelons of metalcore stardom were it not for the impeccable instrumentation. However, because the strings are able to paint perfect images of distant galaxies over the popping bass, gut-busting drums and the occasionally earth-shattering bass drop, Damned Spring Fragrantia have absolutely nothing to fear. Case in point: “D.M.Z.,” the album’s lead single. This track features all the elements which Damned Spring Fragrantia have obviously worked incredibly hard to perfect. Stunning, bone-shattering heaviness flows smoothly into filthy, writhing grooves and finally, marvelously ethereal and heavenly amounts of intergalactic atmosphere. In this track—and, for really the entire album on a track-by-track basis—the constant mid-range yell of the vocalist serves perfectly to create an anchor for the otherwise schizophrenic nature of the instrumentation. It is only when looking at the album as a whole that the vocals get monotonous and grating—with the exception of “Pariah” and it’s more than welcome guest appearance.
Travel the stars, and view the universe as it could have, should have, and might have well been with Damned Spring Fragrantia’s album Divergences. Taking quick turns for the heavy or jarring jolts for the heavens from the grimy, earthly muck from where it dwells, I could not think of a more fitting name for the release. Furthermore, it is a divergence from the cluttered and boring realm of samey, pseudo-progressive metalcore “djent” acts plaguing the scene now, making it anything but a waste of the listener’s time.
For Fans Of: Volumes, Visionaries, Intervals, Substructure
By: Connor Welsh