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Jesus fucking Christ! Where the fuck has this album been all this time and why wasn't it part of my collection 9 years ago? I swear to god, I think I came when I started listening to this. I don't know where to even start. I told myself I was going to stop reviewing until I started doing some lower ratings because up until now, almost every one of my small collection of reviews on this site have pretty much been in the 80% and above range, but holy shit this is too amazing to not talk about. Death meets Atheist meets Jag Panzer, with a hint of Chuck Norris.
I'm just going to start somewhere random, like the bass. Holy shit, is that a bass? Yes! It's a bass. It's not just audible, but it's mixed so god damned perfectly it's audible at all times while NEVER distracting from anything. It really gives the album that progressive, jazzy feel. Especially on tracks like "Consumed", "What If...?", and the title track, "The Fragile Art of Existence". I don't think I've ever mentioned more than "The bass doesn't suck" in a review before. But this album (and band in general) has one of the most orgasm-inducing bassists I've heard since Necrophagist and Atheist. I want to make love to you, Steve DiGiorgio.
Oh, where to next...how about the vocals? I know, right? A Chuck Shuldiner album WITHOUT him on vocals. Instead they've got this guy, Tim Aymar. I've never heard of him before now, but he reminds me a lot of Harry Conklin, hence my earlier reference to Jag Panzer. He's got a raspier voice (which I dig) and I'm not sure that his range is quite as high as, say, Hansi Kursch, but he's still fucking great. I was worried about this being power metal. I love it, but power metal Death is not, so finding that Control Denied would be a completely new genre for Chuck, I wasn't sure how it'd turn out. It turned out awesome, obviously.
For the sake of saving the best for last, I'll move on to Richard Christy on drums. I don't know what to really say. He's really fast, really tight, and technical to boot. I'm not sure he's up there in skill with the likes of Inferno (Behemoth), George Kollias (Nile), or Darek Brzozowski (Vader), but his endurance and ability to change things up enough to both follow the progressive nature of the band while not sounding confused is admirable. Sort of in the same calibur as Gene Hoglan.
And the guitars. Guys, having trouble with your lady friend? Always having problems nailing that one “special spot” and just can't seem to give her what she wants. Let her listen to this. She'll come back screaming for more. The guitars are literally fucking orgasmic. The solid rhythm section is always changing, always moving, and always sharp as fuck. Those are the kinds of riffs they use to castrate little boys with. And even though they have that signature Chuck Shuldiner, progressive-death style, the hints of jazz influence still sneak out every now and again (possibly thanks to the prominent bass accompaniment). The solos. Words. Cannot. Describe. Between straight up in-your-fucking-face shredding and slow, melodic leads, the guitar lead work is on par with Jesus, except more divine in nature. I don't know if I can honestly continue without just shouting FUCK to describe my feelings towards the guitar work. I want to cry.
Enough praise (no, not really). What about the songs? I won't waste time focusing on them all, but there are some definite stand outs (as if every other track wasn't worthy of having an album named after it). The first track, “Consumed”, has a nice, jazzy feel mixed with that progressive-death style. I really dig it and it sets the mood for the rest of the album. Plenty of tempo changes and amazingly emotional lead work, this song grabs you and doesn't fucking let go. Even when it's over and you're listening to the next song, you're still thinking about this one. The next is “What If...?”. It probably has the most interesting and memorable openings of all the songs. Then the song slows down a bit before completely raping your ears with one of the most impressive and intense solos this side of shred metal. It's fucking relentless. After the solo, though, there's this thing...I don't know what it is. It's...a breakdown? I don't fucking know! Don't crucify me! All I know is that it sounds fucking sweet and if Chuck Shuldiner wants a breakdown, he's gonna have a goddamned breakdown! The last really standout-ish track is the title track. Clocking in an over 9 minutes long, this thing is a monster. This song is mostly slow, but does have quite a few tempo changes. Not too mention probably one of the best solos on the entire album both because it's fast as fuck at some points and extremely melodic at others. A PERFECT closer for a perfect album.
So you're probably wondering why I didn't give this 100% (actually, I doubt you really give a shit). I won't give it a 100% simply on principle. Nothing is perfect. Nothing. But I'll be damned if you can find a piece of musical genius that comes closer than this. Get this album NOW or just rip your balls off. You're clearly not deserving of them.