Shards of Humanity hails from Memphis, Tennessee, and is a death/thrash band that has just put out their first full-length: “Fractured Frequencies”. Despite the totally 1992 late blooming semi-technical thrash band album cover, these guys actually play more towards the violent side of things. In fact, it would be fairer to say that Shards of Humanity is a full on death metal band with some thrashy riffing incorporated. On “Fractured Frequencies”, the band puts forth an effort that is overflowing with brutality, and more importantly, an album that is teeming with potential.
There are many things this band does correctly, but I’ll address the two downsides of “Fractured Frequencies” first. The smaller and easier correctable issue is the mixing of the vocals. The harsh screams feel like an afterthought compared to the loud, overpowering guitars, and even the drums. It almost feels like the singer is purposely standing far away from the microphone. In any case, this isn’t a huge problem, but the band could benefit by either turning up the vocals, or turning down everything else. The second issue on “Fractured Frequencies” is the general lack of accessibility. To many, this is likely a good thing; after all, where would metal be without hundreds of relatively unmemorable death and black metal bands? In my books, songwriting doesn’t take away from brutality. Look at bands like Cannibal Corpse, Demolition Hammer, or Solstice (USA); all of these bands are able to write incredibly memorable music while still providing some of the most unrelenting metal in existence. This isn’t to say “Fractured Frequencies” is worth ignoring; in fact, there is a lot of good on this record, but it is certainly intriguing to see if the band refines their sound a bit for the future.
In terms of what Shards of Humanity does well, it can be summed up in a single word: riffs. On “Astral Agony”, for example, one of the most mindblowing riffs to ever exist pops out of nowhere. It’s certainly excessively technical, but its brief appearance leaves you wanting more, and when the riff does return, it is accompanied by some sickening vocals, making it even more potent. Great riffs on this album are certainly not few and far between. They pop up multiple times in each and every song, and they come in every variety of tempo. While Shards of Humanity typically plays at breakneck speeds, they certainly show the ability to slow it down when necessary, and they can also do some crushing mid-paced work. These riffs are only improved by the guitar tone, which is relatively clear and easy to decipher. The drumming gets a bit bombastic at times, particularly when blast beats are present, but the drumming definitely adds to the chaos of the record. “Aphoticism” shows a riff accompanied by a normal death/thrash beat, with a blast beat the fourth time the riff is played for some additional ruthlessness.
It would be an exercise in futility to describe every neck-snapping moment on this record, but rest assured, they are pretty much endless. If you need something to throw on so that you can thrash out to, “Fractured Frequencies” is an ideal pick. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with a bit more staying power, this album probably won’t do it for you. Nonetheless, it is worth hearing for the aggression alone.
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"Shards of Humanity"
3.6/5 or 72%.
Written by Scott