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Better Than Many, Not As Great As Others - 79%

Erin_Fox, September 28th, 2006

Although there is certainly a great deal more musical variation on Sterling Black Icon – Chapter III – Black But Shining than listeners experienced with the two previous “chapters” laid out by Germans Fragments Of Unbecoming, many will agree that the band is still a bit mired in the habit of worshipping the basic tenets of Swedish death metal, while not bringing very much to the table in the scope of innovation. That said, there are enough entertaining tracks on Sterling Black Icon – Chapter III – Black But Shining to raise the interest of fans, especially in light of the diminutive amount of quality death metal releases to be found in 2006.

Sine the band’s inception in the fall of 2000, Fragments Of Unbecoming has been intent on resurrecting a sound that was much more prevalent in the mid-1990s, these days you can count small numbers of acts that are actually dedicated to such a style and manage to pull it off in a competent fashion. Fortunately, Fragments Of Unbecoming has studied their influences quite well and quite frankly, upon repeated listening of Sterling Black Icon – Chapter III – Black But Shining, it does appear that this quartet of death-dealers is intent upon making music that is more dynamic than many critics might glean upon initial exposure.

Even though the Swedish style is still quite apparent in the band’s, a bit of German thrash also makes its way into the digits of Sterling Black Icon – Chapter III – Black But Shining, most notably the influences of Coroner and Kreator, especially in terms of the technicality of the guitarist’s riffing and overall song structures. When these types of sounds are merged with the aforementioned Swedish aspect, a bit more range emerges, but these influences are definitely going to be less apparent to those raised on “Clayman” as opposed to “Punishment For Decadence”.

Melodic guitar overlays provoke much of the oft-cited comparisons of bands such as Dark Tranquillity and In Flames to the work of Fragments Of Unbecoming. Obviously, this sort of song structuring supplies the “melody” intrinsic in melodic death metal. This particular factor tends to incite cries of unoriginality, but frankly, it’s an ingredient that’s required of this type of music. To remove such influences would leave listeners with a much blander experience indeed and in doing so, would negate much of the vigor a band like Fragments Of Unbecoming dishes out.

As the roaring title track, the mid-tempo “Dear Floating Water” and the biting, blustery “A Faint Illumination” demonstrate, this foursome can assuredly bash out the high-intensity sounds. Nonetheless, Sterling Black Icon – Chapter III – Black But Shining is an album that will most easily connect with die-hard fans of this type of metal method. If you are willing to take the time to delve deeply into this record, you’ll discover a plethora of excellent musical ideas. But if you instead prefer music that strikes you on a purely superficial, less-critical level, this album is likely going to be one that you’ll have difficulty in getting into.