Album: “Fragments” (2013)

Genre: Experimental Death Metal

Members: Larry Passenier – Vocals/Keyboard

Jay Ingersoll – Lead Guitar/Vocals

Nate Krehn – Rhythm Guitar

Nick Modd – Bass

Adam Eklund – Drums

Location: Muskegon

For fans of: Between the Buried and Me, Origin, Parkway Drive, Dying Fetus

Reviewed by: Grey Matter

Today, we look at a fairly new release in the Michigan scene by the name of “Fragments”.

Infinite Design has been a band that has been quite active and growing since their inception in 2008. Being fairly familiar with the Michigan metal scene, a popular name recurring through the mouths of local metalheads has been the experimental group that is Infinite Design. If word of mouth is how I figured out this band, they must be doing something right.

Larry Passenier, vocalist and keyboardist, is one of the most active men in the local scene today. Doing work in the graphic design field for numerous bands and advertising the best Michigan bands over social media is how I became to know the man well, and I’m sure many others can say the same (he created the Grey Matter Agency logo).

Finally being able to listen to this band, I put “Fragments” on rotation numerous times. This is a record that I didn’t just listen to because I wanted to get a good grasp of it overall – I WANTED to keep listening to this record over and over again. Ever since getting a hold of this record, I’ve been jamming it during my leisure time and blasting it in my car. Overall, I was very satisfied with the originality and spontaneous composition “Fragments” brought.

Immediately kicking off the album is “90 Second Gratuity”. I’m very happy that this was the first song people will hear when putting this record on play. The immense lead guitar work and unpredictable composition really make for a trip. “90 Second Gratuity” serves as a great opener because it’s a perfect sample of what you can somewhat expect from the rest of the album – guitar parts that changes from technical metal to hardcore/extreme metal in a second’s time. Continuing the listen, the title track “Fragments”, as well as the lead single, showed me an interestingly simple introduction (simple for their standards, that is). However, the songs breaks suddenly into a riff that makes the listener want to pump their fists in the air and headbang. The way the guitars trade off and allow the bass to be present is very interesting. This shows me guitarists Jay Ingersoll and Nate Krehn really know what they’re doing. Ending with a smooth and soothing bridge helps this song cover all aspects of their potential sound very well. I expect this song to stay in their live set as a staple for a while.

Throughout the record are some extreme death metal tracks to technical death metal tracks, such as “Our Validation” and “The Out Within” that are good listens, but don’t capture the ear as much as other tracks do. Vocally, I was most impressed with the track “27 to 4”. Notable for the black metal vocals that kick off the song and the sound bit that starts the song, it’s a very spacey track for it being so blackened right off the bat. It represents a fantastic balance of all their styles and sounds. It should also be noted here that drummer Adam Eklund has a spectacular performance in this song. This is no less in any of the other songs, but I seemed to notice it here the most.
With a short, calming break in “Spontaneous Lucidity”, we are introduced to the melodic/rhythmic epic, titled “Nations”. Although this is one of the least technical/experimental songs on the album, it captures their atmospheric personality the best. There’s a stronger sense of passion to this song that isn’t quite as present in the other songs.

If you’re not one for technical metal or all-over-the-place composition, Infinite Design also does extreme metal very well.  “Welcome to Sacrifice” is what you should be listening to. The other single from the album, this shows a different side of Infinite Design that the title track didn’t showcase as well. “Welcome to Sacrifice” is pure evil forming in the strings of Ingersoll/Krehn’s guitars. Along the lines of Dying Fetus, Dark Funeral, and Cattle Decapitation, I quite enjoyed this song, most notably in the black/death-influenced measures. The immediate halt in the barrage of extreme guitars brought a haunting clean guitar passage that sends shiver down the spine of the listener.

Closing out the album is “Internal Erosion”. A string-skipping riff takes up a chunk of the song, but departs from this halfway through the song to introduce a familiar melodic flow found in “Nations”. If any song were to close this album, this would be it. Similar to how “90 Seconds Gratuity” is a preface of what is to come, “Internal Erosion” is the recap of the overall sound in the album.

Outside of this album, a notable fact to think about is that this band hails from the Muskegon area. If you know anything about the local scene right now, Muskegon is the best place to be for metal and holds some of Michigan’s best local bands currently. There is quite a level to be met to stay relevant in that scene, and I feel like the bands up there all match each other in quality and composition. With “Fragments”, I feel that Infinite Design have sincerely made themselves a spot among the best local bands not only in the Muskegon area, but in the state all around.

Now that I’ve stated what I highly enjoy about this album, I must point out a few things that I didn’t care for and must make obvious. Upon listening to the album, I was not keen on the vocals overall. Larry Passenier, vocalist of Infinite Design, does a fantastic job at injecting versatility in the vocals and holds much power in his chest when performing the vocals held in the album. However, I was strongly dissatisfied with the vocal mix on the overall production. Upon first listen, I was annoyed with how much the vocals stuck out and appear to go against the grain of the instruments. I feel like it sits atop the instruments rather than blends with it. This is especially noticeable in the high screams. It feels like only two vocal tracks were taken and put on the overall mix. This is not a plug against Larry as a vocalist, but more a plug against the producer of the album. A fantastic job on mixing and recording the instruments, but the vocals could’ve been integrated into the music much better.

“Fragments” is an album that any music listener with a passion for technicality and progression needs to pick up. Filled with virtuostic guitar leads and solid skin bashing, this album is among the best out in the Michigan scene right now.

My favorite tracks in the album included “Welcome to Sacrifice”, “Nations”, the title track, and “27 to 4”. Needless to say, the whole album should be listened to. If not for tracks like “The Out Within”, “Our Validation”, and “Preset Intervals” feeling repetitive and lacking the power their other tracks withheld, I would give this album a top notch score. However, like I said, the listed tracks made me wanting more, wishing they packed the same punch tracks like “Welcome to Sacrifice” and the title track had. Atop of my complaint about the vocal production, they all are taken into account for the overall score. However, I highly suggest this album be listened to and bought if you find it enjoyable. I don’t lie when I say this is still one of the best albums a Michigan metal band has released in a while.