In 2017 London Progressive Metallers Fraktions were on a high, their debut EP “Anguish“, a concept release about mental health that takes the listener on a journey through multiple sound worlds taking them to Tech-Fest where they were joined by Kaan Tasan now of Heart of a Coward who reprised his role on “Panic“. But all was not well and soon both rhythm guitarist Sebastian Dymiter and lead guitarist Charlie Griffiths exited stage left and what followed was radio silence from a group whose debut had impressed so much. Fast forward to January 2021 and from out of nowhere “Kalos” appears. A sophomore EP recorded by Joe Leggett at The Practice Roomz before being mixed and mastered by Dave Klussmann. Now a trio with the rhythm section of bassist William Kitchener and drummer Ross Gordon alongside Joel Pinder, who has put down the microphone and is stat at the keyboard, the question becomes a simple one. How can you stay true to your Progressive Metal roots without guitars?
The answer to that is to re-invent and re-imagine your vision and becoming an instrumental act means that Joel Pinder can focus on creating more complex piano work without the need to concentrate on his vocal delivery and the result, well it’s here for everyone to hear. “Euphoria” is a lush soundscape of cinematic textures that sound like they belong on Leopold Stokowski’s Fantasia score before “Polynya” plays on the Progressive Metal vibes with polyrhythms and Jazz infusions that soar like a majestic bird on a thermal in the bright blue sky. “Devolution” then allows the bass to lead and provide some funky chill out tones that offer a new dimension with a beauty that you might not have expected. Progressive Metal acts like Arcaeon and Aristic have offered long offered chiptune style renditions of their songs and this new music from Fraktions is a beautiful half way house that builds on that concept with often jaw dropping results. The worst case scenario was always going to be that Fraktions reinvented themselves as a progressive version of Ben Folds Five and that has skillfully been avoided here with a grace that no-one could have seen coming. “Equinox” is the moodiest of the pieces with perfectly timed pauses and returns to a main groove that sets it apart while also having time for a breakdown section that cracks a smile, something which “Deluge” also has but in a funkier style. Joel Pinder deserves a lot of credit here because his piano playing is mesmerizing throughout while as a group keeping faith in the project is something which must have been a challenge. The new direction is awe inspiring and long may it continue [8/10]
“Kalos” by Fraktions is out now and available over at bandcamp