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FRAGMENTS OF UNBECOMING
A lot of you out there have probably never heard of FRAGMENTS OF UNBECOMING before. Neither did I - until the day we got the band's debut "Skywards - Chapter II - A Sylphe's Ascension". The band is from Germany but their sound is Swedish - so I guess that's why it was never a question who of us would get the CD ;-) When we were offered an interview with the band, I didn't think twice and so here you can now read what guitarist Sascha Ehrich had to tell.
Hi Sascha, since Fragments Of Unbecoming is still quite a new band, would you mind giving our readers a brief history of the band!? Who are the members and how did you guys get together?
Fragments Of Unbecoming was founded in summer 2000 by Stefan (vocals/guitar) and me (guitar) as some kind of project in order to play more melodic orientated death metal besides our main bands Mortified and Veneral Disease. Because of we had no big choice in selecting a drummer, we asked Ingo (also drummer in Veneral Disease) to enter the band and he was enthusiastic right from the beginning. After testing some bass player we decided to give Wolle (at that time bassist in Tombthroat) the chance to complete the line-up. In general, we knew each other a long time before that, the bands often played gigs together and met each other on concerts etc.
Your drummer Ingo Maier and guitarist/vocalist Stefan Weimar are still playing in Veneral Desease then? I suppose at this point it's not much of a problem?
It was never ever a problem for them to perform in both bands, although they have to practise more intensively with Veneral Disease, because their music is more technical and progressive - the style is much different which allows to separate the riffs while composing. Concerning live activities, there never was a date where both had to play separately - thus, as you can see: no conflicts at all.
And for those totally unfamiliar with Fragments Of Unbecoming: how would you describe your music in your own words?
We used to call our style "Swedish Styled Death Metal", because this topic fits the most and the early Swedish death metal bands were and are one of the main reasons or influences to create the band. Concerning stylistic elements, we try to mix very different opposites in music to gain our musical exposures. On the one hand, there are brutal, aggressive and very straight old-school death metal parts underlined with a constantly driving drumming, that means a huge variety in speed and slower parts, on the other hand there are these instrumental interludes based upon acoustic guitars which show a very calm, tranquil and relaxing face of the Fragments Of Unbecoming. In short, we create an equilibrium between harmonic and disharmonic, melancholic and adrenaline-filled parts - always under the banner of death metal.
What or who made you start a band back in the day? What have your main influences been - you have an impressive list of favourite albums in your profile - and what does still influence you?
Nearly every band in my favourite album list influences me to some important and unimportant factors. I would not hype one single band or album, more or less there are certain atmospheres that inflamed my mind in a special way or changed my view towards music. The reason why I decided to form another band was in any case to free myself, in order to create 100% the music I want to play - which was not possible in Mortified. At that time I certainly wondered what the future in my musical development would look like and nowadays I would say that it was definitely the right step to quit my old band to concentrate more enthusiasticaly on the new life-time project. To mention some bands which influenced me years ago and still do: Edge Of Sanity ("The Spectral Sorrows" was my first death metal album ever and it impresses me as much today as in 1994!), Sacrilege (one of these older Swedish melodic bands who had the right feeling in mixing acoustic parts with death metal - highly recommended), At The Gates (...), Carcass, Dissection and Cardinal Sin - just to call some by name. In general, take a look at the older No Fashion Records and Wrong Again Records releases to get to know what I actually prefer in Swedish death metal.
Your band's name is certainly quite unusual and a similar one has probably never been used before. I think it's awfully long though. How did you come up with it and is there a deeper meaning behind it?
At that time we had to decide how the new band should be named, we had collected a huge selection of about twenty to thirty names. Obviously, it was a main topic and of great importance for us to have a very unique or independent phrase and yet unheard name in order to prevent to be premature compared with other bands or musical styles we do not want to be compared with. To take a closer look to its signification I can admit that we four members are part of some kind of project or way to sophisticate and reinforce our musical development and its compositions beneath. That is to say we are always directed to our aim, which hopefully every single of us is able to achieve.
Last year you released the self-financed MCD "Bloodred Tales - Chapter I - The Crimson Season". As far as I know the reactions have been very good?
The reactions - both press/media and fans were overwhelming and honestly we didn´t expect that, because there are millions of underground bands fighting years and working very hard for positive reactions. We received plenty of over the top positive reviews, made several interviews, were featured on important compilation CDs that show up the best unsigned acts both national and international, played more gigs and finally Metal Blade felt attracted. I mean, at first we only wanted to record a demonstration release just in order to get to know whether people would like our music. Not a single of us believed in this success right from the beginning.
Did you have various offers from other labels as well?
There were some smaller underground labels that showed their interest towards our upcoming releases and naturally we were interested in signing a deal (thanks to all of them who expressed belief in us!!!!). But, in any case, we decided to sign to Metal Blade simply because we thought that they have the best opportunities to promote and support us. Thus, other labels are not that important to be mentioned now.
Your new effort and debut album is entitled "Skywards - Chapter II - A Sylphe's Ascension". I haven't heard the MCD....what's the main difference to the previously released MCD in your opinion?
Basically, the two releases are not that different at all, namely because "Skywards" can be described as a direct continuation from that point "Bloodred Tales" ended in 2002. Concentrating on stylistic elements we changed nearly nothing. A very important aspect for my personal part is the replacement of instrumental e-guitar parts on "Bloodred Tales" with the use of acoustic guitars to enrich or reinforce the natural sound and atmosphere on "Skywards" - it offers a deeper kind of charm. I can proudly admit that we in a way achieved to sound like bands that released their albums about ten years ago. Some might call this anachronism but in our view nothing is overproduced or sounds like millions of bands nowadays. "Skywards" sounds professional but unique. Musically, we followed the path we yet went on "Bloodred Tales", although we developed our skill and ability to write impassioned songs. It is of great importance for us, that everybody who listens to "Skywards" recognises that this can only be a Fragments Of Unbecoming-album. Concerning the songs itself, we can say that they again offer the listener a wide-ranged variation of different stylistic elements: One is more melodic, full of harmony and mid-tempo based, another one right beside is blasting without compromise, rich of aggression and brutality. We tried to create a constant equilibrium within the whole album, that is to say that there is a certain kind of red line, but no one is probably able to get it by hearing the album for one single time. It is important to listen to "Skywards" several times again and again to see differences and connections to dive into melodies and disharmonies. Certainly, there are many catchy riffs and melodies but in any case it is not a hit-album!
Are the two records connected through a musical or lyrical concept or what was the reason for using "Chapter I" and "Chapter II" in the album titles?
This was not really done by purpose. The idea came up just to sequence the albums. Thus, the next album perhaps will be entitled ....-Chapter III ......, who knows? A connection between lyrical basics is not existent, the musical components are already mentioned.
About lyrics....unfortunately there were no lyrics with the promo: what do the lyrics usually deal with and how important do you think are lyrics for a band?
This question is one of those which I unfortunately do not dare to answer because the lyrics are, although this might not be obvious, very personal or close to my emotional exposures. To reduce it to some pertinent words, the lyrics - especially on "Skywards" - in substance tell about a certain passion, namely to ascend heavenwards, to leave something behind to step on unexplored virgin territory, to follow some kind of primordial instinct, to let the soul depart, to free oneself, to absorb light...
Although all the lyrics follow the same basics or inducements they differ in their atmosphere as they are e.g. very positive and full of light or, on the contrary, very rich of dark motives and emotional ambivalence. To draw the attention to my inspiration, there are a couple of factors that influence my entire work of art (music, layout, lyrics): Sometimes I experience something like mind-snapshots, remarkable experiences or pictures in my daily life. From time to time friends or close people inspire me, music or sound in general, nature, other impressive artists in literature and so many more. In addition to that, lyrics are certainly an important part concerning the entire composition, but for me personally they are not that worth mentioning in comparison to the music. I do not very often read lyrics from other bands, except the lyrics of e.g. Opeth, Emperor, In The Woods.
What's your favourite song of "Skywards - Chapter II - A Sylphe's Ascension" and why?
Not that easy to answer, as I really like every single song on the album. But to give you some kind of satisfying answer, I prefer the acoustic opening theme "Up From The Blackest Of Soil" which continues with the first track "The Seventh Sunray Enlights My Pathway". Especially the final ending of this song is that rich of emotion and melancholic harmony that sometimes my flesh begins to creep. The second song I prefer is "Entangled Whispers In The Depth". This one is totally different from the opening theme as it is based on abyssic atmospheres with whispered vocal parts. It is more old-school orientated with plenty of disharmonies and has a really cool finishing fade down. "Entangled Whispers In The Depth" was the last song we finished before we entered the studio but it sounds to be one of the oldest...haha…..I really like its dark ambivalence.
I cannot really name any favourites myself as I think the material is more or less on the same quality level...one thing that sticks out for me are still the acoustic songs/interludes though. No idea if that's what you like to hear since it's a death metal album ;-), but I like those acoustic parts quite a bit!
It's always interesting to read what people think about the music, if you kind of prefer the acoustic interludes - it's no problem for me. Perhaps it reminds me a bit of my familiy's point of view towards the music, they prefer these parts, because there are no harsh vocals disturbing :-) I think, these interludes are remarkable for the entire song writing and I could not imagine to release an album without any tranquil and relaxing acoustic parts. Certainly, I also prefer the mixture.
I saw that you did all of the design for the new album as well as the MCD last year yourself. Congrats on that, as I think the design is very tasteful. I guess you are doing something like that as your day job as well? I also saw on your website that you have your own little artwork service called "Precious Art".
Thank you very much for this compliment. As you guessed I'm working in my daily life as a graphic designer and preprint-coordinator, although this work is more or less dedicated to modern and trendy stuff and often has nothing to do with this kind of exposures. Certainly, this was one of the basic reasons why I enlighted my private company "Precious Art" in 1995/1996 - namely to create space for different artwork schemes, basically in the world of metal. Since this time, I have been creating many band logotypes (e.g. the one of "Die Apokalyptischen Reiter") and some cover artworks for underground acts.
So I believe you think that the artwork/packaging of your "product" is important. Please explain how the current artwork came into being. How did you start collecting ideas for it and what does it represent in the end. How is it connected to the band or the album?
In general, I want to offer the customer the most precious wrapping I'm able to give - this is why the first release already came with an extra slipcase and three additional postcards. The artwork always is the first affinity to someone who could be interested in the band. In a way, I always collect ideas based upon mind snapshots, special pictures in my daily life or design that differ in stylistic and artificial elements. As I started to think about how the artwork should look like it was the main topic that there is a chromatic and thematic connection to the album title "Skywards" - thus I mainly used blue and white, because they are the elementary colours of heaven. Perhaps, I prefer to create monochromatic artworks, because they offer a special atmosphere and mood. The artwork is basically built upon a mixture of brush and digital drawings or compositions. I wanted to create an artwork rich of light and showing a kind of reflection of the notion "Ascension". In a mysterious way, the sylphe (poet: an elementary ghost connected to air, wind and breath and incarnated as some kind of beautiful female being) is placed on the cover as an obvious detail. As everybody might see, it is not some kind of typical death metal artwork and it differs a lot from gorebased artworks. Entirely, the artwork in connection to the music represents that we are not the most innovative band, but yet we are different!!!
What about playing live? How often have you been playing so far and what are some memorable moments in regards of shows you have played?
We have played 10-15 gigs so far, I can't remember the accurate number. The most memorable moment was the gig on PartySan, because we never before played in front of nearly two thousand people!!! In any case an overwhelming experience! Actually, we were the opener of the festival and we didn't expect to be confronted with such a hungry crowd. Most of the people right in front of the stage nearly shouted every single lyric part of our first demonstration release - unbelievable!
Any plans for touring or festival appearances in the making?
In any case, we want to play gigs and festivals as much as we are able to. To mention a big festival we are playing in summer - we are performing this year on Summer Breeze which is a great honour for us! Some gigs and underground festivals are already planned and can be viewed on the homepage. Concerning touring plans, we do not plan to tour that soon as every single of us is working the whole week, the whole month, the whole year...thus, it is not that easy to jump on a tour. Perhaps, it will be possible to support some tour gigs in Germany - we will see what time will tell.
Since the year 2003 has just ended: what have been your highlights in the metal world in 2003? Favourite releases? Best shows you've seen?
The main highlight concerning the development of Fragments Of Unbecoming was doubtless the signing to Metal Blade, the recording of "Skywards" and the participation to the great and recommended PartySan Festival in August. This was a great experience for us!
Bloodbath-Resurrection Through Carnage
Defleshed-Royal Straight Flesh
The Black Dahlia Murder-Unhallowed
The Defaced-Karma In Black
The PartySan Festival
Darkane and Malevolent Creation on tour
the gig we played with our fellows "Symbiontic" which is in my view one of the most promising death metal hopefuls from Germany (besides "Sinners Bleed")
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, you may close it as you wish.
I thank you for the interest in the band and everything what Fragments Of Unbecoming is all about. Hope to see every single reader in the near or far future on a concert. For those who want to know still more about the band - just get informed on http://www.fragmentsofunbecoming.de
submitted by Cora 02.02.2004