I don't really understand what it is I am hearing here. I don't want to pan this outright because I think the band is really good and the music well-composed and constructed, but the vocals are taking me out of this at every turn. I want to say that this is a faster, heavier offshoot of traditional heavy/progressive metal with some thrash elements, but the singer, by Great Odin's Beard, has possibly the most distracting voice I've ever heard.
It's not like he's a bad singer, it's how how he chooses to use his voice, like Dave Mustaine with Bell's Palsy, it literally sounds like only half his face works, and then when he is on key it sounds like the worst bar-metal you've ever laid ears on. If he would only relax a little and not sound like he's trying to shit out an entire Hickory Farms cheese log then he would sound good. Where he sings more softly, his voice really does shine, but for most of Fragments, he pushes way too hard and it sounds affected and sometimes silly.
It doesn't help that some of lyrics are just painfully awful. The opening cut on the EP, Welcome, literally has a chorus that sings "welcome to hell". OK, you're not Grim Reaper. In fact, the singer kind of tries to evoke a Grim Reaper-ish vibe but it's not 1982 and it falls incredibly flat, and cliche lyrics don't really mesh too well with a progressive band in 2012. It does the music a disservice to throw generic metal schtick over music that is at times, impressively inventive and forward-leaning.
That's why I can't hate this entirely, because the band is really good. Andrey Ischenko, who has played for both Blaze Bayley and Paul Di'Anno, has joined on as their lead guitarist and the guy knows how to shred. The songs are well produced and the band knows how to cook up and arrange a tune. The guitar work, the bass, the drums, all stellar. Well, the drums seem a little tooled but no more so than anything else.
The best track would be Oblivion, which made me laugh out loud, and yet I did find a little bit of sunshine here. The vocals are only kind of bad, and the music is really good. The song has an almost happy vibe, it's quite the toe-tapper, and then here comes this absolute troll of a singer stomping on it and trying to sing in a major key. It's comical, but again, the song is very good despite the singing.
These guys just need a new singer. Perhaps JJ should just play guitar and do backups, and find a person with a voice that can really elevate the music instead of send people screaming for the stop button. There is a fine line between unique and atrocious and our singer here has taken one giant leap across it. Sad to say, but it really makes this EP unlistenable save for the 20 minutes of my life I will never get back for having to review it. Mercifully, it's only four songs any more and I would have hit the gong.