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Fragments Of Unbecoming
Skywards: A Sylph’s Ascension
February 2005
Released: 2004, Metal Blade Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman

Rising above the collective fake Shemps of the melodic-death scene (i.e. hardcore wankers who think they’re Swedish) is—gasp!—a real (Swedish?) melodic-death band. Not only is this a pleasant surprise, but the band fails to ruin it by throwing in a bunch of trendy ass-clown jazz progressions or Meshuggah riffs. Nope—this is the straight dope, and what a rush it is.

Some might glance at the band name or CD title and write this off as pretentious horseshit—and, to be honest, it is pretentious; but it’s the right kind of pretentious. It’s the artsy, highbrow Euro concept we all fell in love with in the mid-nineties. Remember how you felt when you first experienced Dark Tranquillity’s The Gallery, or Ablaze My Sorrow’s first LP? The poetic lyrics…the gorgeous booklet art…the elegant melodies and twin-guitar harmonies interwoven with harsh, snarling vocals and Slayer-beat mayhem? This is the shit. This could have been released during that period, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Mind you, this probably isn’t the most original CD you’ll hear all month—you’ve heard all these riffs before, and the vocals are interchangeable with any melodic-death screecher from the classic era (i.e A Canorous Quintet, Sins Of Omission, Gates Of Ishtar, etc.). What is important, however, is that the band’s pedigree is proper—they can get away with this sort of rehash, because they come by it honestly. They’re not some two-bit straightedge college band with Killswitch T-shirts; rather, like Mors Principium Est. and Insomnium, they’re an honest-to-Satan European melodic-death outfit that just happened to show up late.

The CD flows well—a little two well, to be honest. Nothing really leaps out at the listener. This is one of those discs best played beginning to end, with each song’s respective concepts bleeding into the next. This is not to say they’re boring, but it is to say they score more points with atmosphere and mood than they do with individual arrangements.

This was a surprising release to come from Metal Blade, and certainly adds to their renewed status as an increasingly more consistent label. The playing is excellent; the production is sterling, if not a tad ordinary. Ultimately, this isn’t groundbreaking by any means, and is likely to remain strictly a “niche” release, an album that sounds far more like an expensive import than the sort of thing found down the street, on the world’s largest metal label. But indeed, this should be easily found—and it is well worth picking up, if you miss the way those imports used to sound.
Track Listing

1. Up From The Blackest Of Souls (Ascension Theme)
2. The Seventh Sunray Enlights My Pathway
3. Shapes Of The Pursuers
4. Skywards--A Sylphe's Ascension
5. Mesmerized (Instrumental)
6. Entangled Whispers In The Depth
7. Scattered To The Four Winds
8. On A Scar's Edge To Infinity
9. Lour Pulse (Instrumental)
10. Fear My Hatred
11. Insane Chaosphere
12. Life's Last Embers (Farewell Theme)


Stefan Weimar—Vocals/Guitar
Sascha Ehrich—Guitar
Wolle Schellenberg—Bass
Ingo Maier—Drums

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