It’s been 4 years since we’ve heard any new noise from Italian heavyweights Damned Spring Fragrantia. 4 long years. They’ve come a long way from their deathcore tinged roots, growing and evolving into a gigantic metal wrecking ball that’s been wreaking havoc everywhere they’ve been. They’ve most notably made a lot of noise at Tech Fest here in the UK alongside some of metals finest in Tesseract, Veil Of Maya, Northlane and many more. They signed to Basick Records and released their debut album Divergences back in 2012, causing a lot of eyes to gaze in their direction. New material has been eagerly awaited since then. After a small line up change and a lot of meticulous writing and structuring, they are about to unleash Chasm unto the world. Should our eyes still be firmly fixed on them?
EP opener and title track Chasm does everything that you’d expect from a first track. It immediately begins to build suspense and atmosphere, exploding into riffs dirty enough to make you blush. There’s no messing about here; they’ve been away for a long time and they’re making up for it straight away. Umbra retains that attitude, kicking off proceedings with a mammoth headbang-worthy riff and navigating its way towards a wall of chords complete with tasteful harmonies and menacing discords. Lead single Float doesn’t hide that it’s going to be heavy. You just know it’s going to be evil from the opening notes. But the riff that it erupts into is even heavier than I expected, and knocked me for six. The track is like a musical sledgehammer, knocking away at your eardrums for 3 and a half minutes before finally giving you the chance to recover. Pages is full of bouncy, meaty riffs from beginning to end, maintaining a bouncy yet unpredictable feel throughout. EP closer Quaser is essentially a combination of all the best moments from the 4 tracks running up to it, but with the inclusion of arguably the heaviest breakdown on the record. It’s even complete with a “bleh”, which in my opinion makes any breakdown instantly heavier. Littered with blast beats, atmospheric drones, cleverly phrased riffs and intense vocals, the track comes to an abrupt end and leaves you with some time to reflect on what you’ve heard. They may have been gone for a while, but Damned Spring Fragrantia are without a doubt back, and they are demanding your attention.
The vibe of this EP is definitely reminiscent of the band we’ve come to know with their past releases, but showcases far more attention to detail. The song structure is the first thing I picked up on, with noticeable verse and chorus sections tastefully broken up by thick breakdowns and technical riffage. The guitar tone is bellowing and sludgy, yet manages to remain clear and full of clarity. The bass sits nicely behind it and really compliment the guitars which is often difficult to do when the guitars are so low tuned, and the drums simply sound enormous. The vocals provide further weight to the music, with vocalist Nicoló Carrara snarling and growling every syllable with pure anger. My only criticism with this record is that it doesn’t sound overly groundbreaking. I’m not saying that it’s a bad EP in any way, because it isn’t. It’s great and I’ve spun it several times since my first initial listen. I just feel like it isn’t particularly pushing the boundaries, and it feels all too familiar. It reminded me of a more accessible Humanity’s Last Breath in places, especially in the breakdowns and the heavier verse riffs. Nonetheless, the EP shows that their ability to write solid material is just as strong as ever. If they continue to hone in on their sound and find “that special something” that every band is constantly looking for, their next release could be absolute gold. If you’re in need of some heavy HEAVY metal to see you through these cold winter months, look no further.