Album Review: Dakesis – Fractures
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings
Of all the bands whose forthcoming gigs have been cancelled, Dakesis’ forthcoming co-headline tour with Fury was one of the most disappointing. A superb live band, the progressive four-piece from Birmingham’s latest release is an absolute stunner from start to finish and the chance to see and hear it live was a must. ‘Fractures’, the follow up to 2016’s ‘The New Dawn’ demonstrates a new maturity to their music, the compositions complex, the playing tight and the overall package impressively professional.
The opening bars of ‘Eons’ build the anticipation, the combination of cello and harp nicely leading into ‘End of Time Part I’, a powerful progressive opener which races along dramatically, soaring symphonics intertwining with raging riffing and Gemma Lawler’s fine crystal-clear vocals. The track segues neatly into ‘End of Time Part II’, a majestic continuation, the orchestral elements once more juxtaposing tightly with the battery of drums, the bouncing bass lines of Amie Chatterley (whose backing vocals with drummer Adam Harris are superb throughout), searing guitar work and the first tinkling of session pianist Jacob Underwood. Instant hooks combine with detailed time changes, Matt Jones guitar work red-hot. Imagine Dream Theater stripped of the fat and you get the idea. This is imposing work.
After such a dramatic opening 13 minutes you might expect a slower track to follow but not a chance. ‘Overthrown’ may change tempo but there is no let up in the story telling, the soaring elements that make this band so good continuing to fall like rain as they hit their stride. In Lawler, Dakesis possess one of the best vocalists in the UK metal scene, and her performance throughout Fractures is fantastic. But it is the sum of the parts that make Dakesis such an important band, their balance between heavy and progressive lightness perfectly arranged. To demonstrate this point, as if it needs any examples, check out the thunderous blasting of ‘Kairos’, a galloping racehorse of a track, thick riffs mix with carpets of synths, the harmonies and underlying melody combining sweetly.
The sweeping soundscapes continue on ‘Surrender Your Fears’ whilst the dramatic introduction to ‘Hold Forever’ allows the subtle orchestral elements and sees some interesting forays into a different style of singing with the harmonies which close the song working well. ‘Legacy in Memory’ is a beautiful interplay between Underwood’s piano, Lawler’s powerful vocals and strings, the shortest track on the album but certainly one of the most stirring. It’s delicate, emotional and simply magical.
And then we arrive at the title track. Just wow! What a song. 15 minutes in length, ‘Fractures’ is magnificent. The build-up commences with an electronic riff before the searing guitar cuts through, walls of synths and Harris’s double bass kicking intense. The song ebbs and flows, huge sections link seamlessly with quieter, delicate passages whilst all the time the feeling of sheer regal work is present. The track’s crescendo triggers waves of emotions and it’s at times like this you really know why you love this glorious style of music. It is epic stuff. This genuinely is a song that defines a band and Dakesis have reached their epicentre. It is a truly glorious piece of work.
Recorded at CapsaArx Studios and produced and mixed by Matt Jones, mastered by Svante Forsback of Chartmakers, ‘Fractures’ is possibly the best release by a UK band this year. It is released on 28th March and should immediately be on your playlist.
Check out out interview with Amie from the band here.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Dakesis have had to postpone their album launch party, but they will be performing a live stream on Saturday, 28th March. Details of which can be found here.