It's easy to be blown away by the bombastic, big-budget efforts of bands like NIGHTWISH and BLIND GUARDIAN, but there is an equal amount of magic and joy to be found in records like this. DAKESIS are much-loved stalwarts of the UK heavy metal underground and one of the few bands from the country that truly grasp what makes music this overblown so irresistible in the first place. They are also from Birmingham, which means that extra metal points are awarded as standard.
Exhibiting a marked progression from 2016's "The New Dawn", this is both DAKESIS's best sounding record to date and their strongest batch of material. The former of those qualities is not to be understated: there are a lot of fairly terrible sounding power and symphonic metal albums out there, despite technology's helping hand, but "Fractures" has the sonic warmth, depth and punch to belie its creators' grassroots stature. It sounds big, bold and dynamic. Meanwhile, within a subgenre that has a tendency to produce multiple versions of exactly the same thing, songs like "Ends of Time, Part 2", and "Hold Forever" serve up a fizzy and distinctive hybrid, encompassing all manner of extreme and progressive tropes while hammering home those all-important, dark, theatrical melodies.
We're firmly in cosmic fantasy territory here, and vocalist/keyboardist Gemma Lawler's rich tone and classy harmonies sell every starry-eyed lyrical conceit, but there's an underlying heft and groove to heavier parts, too: a grit that nods to old-school prog metal, or even the blitzed-out cosmic clatter of BAL-SAGOTH. When they do go for the melodic jugular, most potently on the speed metal Disney of "Kairos" and genuinely stunning single "Surrender Your Fears", the Brits' melodramatic instincts are ruthless, and the hooks are lethal. And as much as 'epic' is an overused word, the closing, 15-minute title track takes this hugely inventive band into unprecedented territory, as they reveal yet more layers of depth while remaining resolutely, joyously over the top and lost in a magical world where heavy metal always rules. Which, as you know, it actually does.