The guys in the Charlotte, North Carolina-based metalcore band Bruised But Not Broken are young. So young, in fact, that most of them were barely in high school when they started the band (15-16 years old at the time). Even now, after an EP (Just(defied)) and this fresh full-length, they are barely out of high school.
But their age didn’t deter them from getting signed by Standby Records (who have kick-started rock and metal hits such as Black Veil Brides and Emarosa), or from creating a solid debut album that should garner some attention in the metalcore world. (Nor does it hinder their message of faith.)
Fragment comes in with ambition, passion and creativity. Although they are defined as a metalcore band, the sound of Fragment lays somewhere between metalcore and post-hardcore, since there is plenty of room for soaring, high-pitched vocals. The album also has hints of techno mixed in throughout, which is both a blessing – because it’s catchy and unique – and a curse – because it sometimes sounds overproduced. While the techno element plays a major role with its background noises and catchy tunes, it’s not overdone and is nothing near as genre-transforming as what Attack! Attack! brought to the table. It’s more of a supporting role.
The vocals are one of the most entertaining aspects of the album. They switch up the entire time. Songs like “Euthology,” “The Prodigal’s Brother” and “Dead Current Sea” feature whispery vocals and soaring vocals and little screaming. Others are much heavier (“The Devil’s List” and “Enter(Fear)”), mixing up high-pitched screams and growls. Then there are songs like “Mourning Glory,” which is a true metalcore song, featuring only screams and growls accompanied by breakdowns and bass drops.
For the most part, Fragment stays away from an abundance of spoiling clichés, though there are a few times when the high-pitched vocals and the breakdowns make any veteran listener of metalcore phase out. But, for the most part, the album keeps you guessing from start to finish, switching rhythms, vocal styles and adding creative instruments such as pianos (“Days of the Weak”) and strings (“Babel Orchestra”).
Modern metalcore and post-hardcore seem to be using a lot of electronic touches (The Devil Wears Prada’s 8:18 and We Came As Romans’ Tracing Back Roots), so the fact that Bruised But Not Broken is aware of that fact is a sign of their adaptability and creativity. It will be fun to watch what they do with it in the future. Furthermore, the fact that this album shows such diversity and creativity is quite impressive for such young artists. Instead of writing it for teenage mosh pits at summer music festivals, they’ve taken the detailed and patient approach. (Listen to the post-rock-esque song “The Third Heaven,” which features few vocals and is mainly instrumental.)
This is a band that has the guts to sell the Petrine Cross on their t-shirts (the usage of the upside-down cross as a satanic symbol originated in the 20th century) as a “conversation starter” (according to their Facebook page). Hopefully, they continue bringing that type of gutsiness into their future music.