It would be impossible to write a review of Fragment.‘s latest album, Temporary Enlightenment, without mentioning Jesu, so I might as well get it out of the way. While I have enjoyed Godflesh for over half of my life, nowadays it is Jesu that I greatly prefer. Hearing a band that is so similar in sound is refreshing, feeling like a familiar drug under a slightly different strain. Familiarity is usually a good thing, and in the case when I instantly recognize one of my favorite bands, I am washed away with the same comfortable sensation.
The vocals are similar in the sense that they seem to be coming from the distance, as if it’s a nostalgic memory or perhaps a glimpse into the future: a premonition of despair and solitude. The imagery of table in an empty room on the cover is an exemplary comparison as these songs consist of the loneliness that few reading this will have experienced, but for those of you that have, you will also recall the comfort of that loneliness. That is the beauty of a project such as Fragment., for even if you have not heard of anything similar to Jesu, part of Temporary Enlightenment should already sound familiar even without the comparison. The guitar notes reverberate for eons while mid-tempo riffs create a rhythm that is guaranteed to garner your attention and allow the wispy recollections of memory to surface, and the music will be with you when you remember old friends and ruminate on regrets. Things begin with “Cast Out,” which has nostalgic riffs playing alongside guitar notes which ring out into the emptiness. “‘From this Moment” hits you like a ton of bricks in slow motion; not with its heaviness, but with its sheer emotional weight. Sounding more like Low with its glacial tempo, “From this Moment” reveals that you do not need elements such as abrasive vocals and other aspects found in funeral doom to create a similar feeling, and that is exactly what I love about Temporary Enlightenment as a whole. It’s like Evoken had a cold so one of the other members had to start singing, and one of the guitarists could not stop his guitar from ringing, so he just went with it.
Fragment. is no newcomer with a solid number of splits, EPs, and full-length albums dating back to 2007. While Temporary Enlightenment does not stand alone in comparison to past works, there is no reason that it should, for more of the same when it’s a damn good thing deserves no complaint. The guitar melodies have been constructed with plenty of space in mind, ensuring the emotive aspects last, and while the tempo flirts with elements of shoegaze and slowcore, at times they can still be monumentally heavy in a very non-stereotypical way. The melancholic riffs combine with clean vocals, developing a sound that fits perfectly into the state of my life at the moment. Each note pierces your heart, threatening an emotional schism at any moment. In defense, a colder atmosphere tries to assert itself, but all these thoughts and sensations are simply too much. Temporary Enlightenment is a fitting title, as this always-fleeting state of consciousness will remain elusive, a glimpse into what could have been while what is remains for all its worth, or not worth. Regardless, the riffs peel away the flesh and all that is left are the bare bones of disappointment and the echoing notes which individually sum up all of life’s failures and haunting memories.
Returning to Jesu, I guess it comes as no surprise that Fragments.’ alter ego, Amantra, has put out a release on Avalance Records, Justin K. Broadrick’s own home-grown imprint, which includes a remix of the track “Rituals” by Broadrick himself. As a massive fan of Broadrick’s output, it is certainly interesting to hear someone who was able to reflect that influence back musically. Amantra even focuses a bit more on the electronic side, much as Pale Sketcher does. All of this only cements the similarity; it’s like a close friend introducing you to someone new. As each note cascades, I get lost in the vocals that do the exact opposite of soaring and instead come crashing into the ground only to leave the wreckage. In a strange way though, I hardly ever feel happier than while I am listening to music such as this. It goes back to that feeling of being comfortable in one’s own despondency, but even more so the recognition that there are others who know what it feels like in that moment. In that sense, we are not alone even in being alone. It is in this paradox that one can find a pure state of—you guessed it—Temporary Enlightenment.
01) Cast Out
03) From this Moment
05) Last Embrace
06) Just for Today
07) Cold Monsters