Release date: 19th April 2019 || Genre: Progressive death metal || Label: Metal Blade Records
This is most definitely an interesting chapter in technical metal. There have been a few strong, death metal game-changers over the last year (see De Profundis, Revocation, and Allegaeon). While Fractal Universe have some similar elements, they are not just that. What they have done here is smash djent back into the realms of progressive metal from whence it was spawned, and reclaimed the territory.
There are tropes requisitioned from the current wave of the (debated) genre, yet FU have rounded it out with an aurally poetic canon. They sound like an outfit who were previously deeply in love with the narrowing corridor available to this particular style, and now, bored of the playbook, have decided to throw open the doors along the way, just to see what might be behind them.
Fundamental Dividing Principal is possibly the highest point on the album, exemplifying everything that is great throughout the rest of the release. Hooked around an off-kilter skip, it touches on Terra Incognita as much as it does Koloss, and traverses much of the FU cosmos. It covers the range from their creeping melodic moments to their lurching brutality, and even stretches out further, to incorporate a Rivers Of Nihil-esque sax solo.
This release is my own proper introduction to a band of which I should have been aware. While the more death metal approach of previous album Engram Of Decline was solid work, ROI is a step beyond, and definitely worth checking out for fans of heavy prog with a wider palette. Herein is living proof that djent-related prog can still be truly progressive, in every understanding. The players just have to be willing to change the rules of the game.