First Fragment: Gloire Éternelle [ALBUM REVIEW]

Band/Artist: First Fragment
Release House: Unique Leader Records
Genre: Neoclassical Technical Death Metal
One Sentence Synopsis: Second album from Canadian neoclassical technical death metal band First Fragment.
Series: Second installment of concept
Single/EP/Album: Album
Release Date: October 29, 2021
Estimated Length: ~72 minutes
MSRP: $9 (digital); $15 (CD)
Website: Click Here
Trailer/Video: Click Here
Purchase Site: Click Here
Reviewed by: Kastrophylax
Final Score: 4 Moons (out of 5)

Technical death metal band First Fragment was established in Longueuil, Quebec in 2007 by guitarists Gabriel Brault-Pilon and Philippe Tougas.  After putting out two demos, the band released their first EP, The Afterthought Ecstasy, in 2010.  On this early release, the main features of First Fragment—arpeggiated riffing, lightning fast and classically informed leads, and syncopated vocals—are all introduced.  It would forebode the great things that were to come.  However, the band’s lineup had not yet stabilized, lacking a bass player and drummer.  No doubt it was difficult to acquire a rhythmic team that could keep up with such technically-demanding music.  Vincent Savary would eventually come on board to provide another distinctive element of First Fragment’s sound: fretless bass.  The band’s first full-length album Dasein was released on Unique Leader Records in 2016.  On this release, among other guests, Troy Fullerton delivers impressive drum parts and Christian Münzner (Obscura) some characteristically acrobatic guitar solos.  In the interim between Dasein and the next album, First Fragment would finally put together a stable lineup of band members, with Dominic “Forest” Lapointe (Beyond Creation) on fretless bass and Nicholas “Le Fou” Wells on drums.  In 2021, this lineup would produce First Fragment’s second album, Gloire Éternelle, also on Unique Leader Records.


Vocalist and lyricist David AB (David Alexandre Brault-Pilon) developed the lyrical concept for Gloire Éternelle.  The lyrics tell the story of the main character’s struggle to overcome the limitations of a finite existence, his fight against evil antagonists and cosmic injustice, and his longing to achieve a mystical transcendence or apotheosis of spirit.  Although the lyrical concept is connected to that of Dasein, here it is presented a bit differently.  Whereas Dasein used the German philosophical concept of human detachment and alienation from mundane existence, as well as the search for a way to relate to the world and other beings, Gloire Éternelle relates similar and broader issues clothed in the language of classical mythology and drama. Thus, the characters are archetypes representing different types of human experiences and they interact in ways similar to the Titans of Hesiod’s Theogony and the Greeks of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. It should be mentioned that the lyrics are all in a sophisticated French, which does not hinder the listener, but adds to the overall epic quality of the songs with poetic expressiveness.

Musically, there are different melodic and thematic elements woven throughout the album.  It begins and ends with soothing, yet ominous, keyboard swells accompanied by wind and wave sound effects.  The title track breaks into an acoustic introduction complete with flamenco guitar, castanets, and staccato drums.  Then, it’s off to the races as First Fragment launches into a variety of heavy riffs (accented by seven-string guitars) and complex, interlocking classical arpeggios and riffs. The apex of the album’s drama seems to take place with track eight, “Soif Brûlante.”  The main character engages in a dangerous battle and nearly perishes.  This leads into track nine (“In’El”), a sprawling nineteen-minute epic full of grandiloquent soundscapes, musical twists and turns, and titanic lyrical warfare.


One should be prepared before listening to Gloire Éternelle.  It not an easy experience: the music is complex with its countless riffs, bass and guitar solos, and blast-beat drumming.  However, embedded in the barrage of riffs and cavalcade of drum fills are many memorable melodies and thematic details.  This is definitely an album that should be listened to with a good set of earphones.  There are so many wonderful details that tend to get lost while listening in the car or on external speakers.

The mix is good overall.  However, one slight criticism I have is that the drums are either turned down in the mix or become obscured in some of the more “busy” instrumental passages.  In technical death metal, special attention should be paid toward bringing out the natural sound of the snare drum and the punchiness of the bass drums.  I’m not sure if this was a product of the so-called “loudness war” in the mastering process and thus may have been out of the band’s direct control.

At this point, I would like to make two special mentions.  First of all, even though every member of First Fragment is a first-class musician, bassist Forest Lapointe deserves special praise.  His fretless bass playing on this record is virtuosic, smooth, and tasteful.  Uniquely, Lapointe is given opportunities to play “lead bass” and complements the soloing of Tougas and Miller.  Fans should check out the band’s playthrough videos on the First Fragment YouTube page.  Secondly, Adam Burke’s album art is excellent and creates a beautiful packaging medium for the digipak CD and LP.  I am always impressed by the classic, oil painting look his album covers have.

“Gloire Éternelle” album art by Adam Burke

Audience Fit

Bringing into play a variety of styles and influences, First Fragment cannot be neatly shoehorned into a specific subgenre of metal.  At the core of their music is technical death metal.  Fans of Obscura, Beyond Creation, Archspire, Arkaik, etc. will most likely discover something interesting in Gloire Éternelle.  Listeners who appreciated the Latin influence in the instrumental passages of Arkaik’s Lucid Dawn (2015) will enjoy First Fragment’s flamenco guitar interludes.  Fans of jazz fusion guitarists such as Al Di Meola and Gary Moore, and definitely of guitarists of the 1980s neoclassical metal movement (Joey Tafolla, Vinnie Moore, Jason Becker), will love the arpeggiated riffs and soloing.

Closing Thoughts

First Fragment’s Gloire Éternelle is a monster of an album that will leave the listener in awe of the technical proficiency of the musicianship and thoroughly exhausted due to the fusillade of aural details that must be processed while listening to it.  It takes multiple listening sessions to fully comprehend.  Once one’s ears have sufficiently recovered, one might then endeavor to delve into the lyrical concept, an intellectual exercise in itself.  It is not for the faint of heart or listeners with limited patience!

Theme: 4.5 Moons (out of 5.0)
Presentation: 4.5 Moons (out of 5.0)
Audience Fit: 4 Moons (out of 5.0)
Final Score (not an average): 4 Moons (out of 5.0)


Author: Kastrophylax

Kastrophylax is a music reviewer from Lexington, KY that joined the DGM team in 2023. Historically, a kastrophylax was a late Byzantine local official who served as the assistant of the kephale in maintaining the defense of a fortified city.

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