Fragments Of Unbecoming

author PP date 09/08/06

Fragments Of Unbecoming is the latest band to follow in the footsteps of such great bands as Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates and, more recently, In Flames. Hailing from Germany, the band has just released their third record entitled "Sterling Black Icon - Chapter III: Black But Shining" through Metal Blade, which is why I decided to grab a hold of the bands mastermind and guitarist, Sascha Ehrich. As you can see from his answers, the man spent much time in thinking about his answers, and the end result is one of the most interesting interviews we've done to date. Read more to find out why. Please describe your sound in detail to someone who has never heard of Fragments Of Unbecoming before.

Sascha: Hey there! Thanks for doing this interview with us!

Fragments Of Unbecoming focused right on from the beginning on the early swedish death metal composing style. This is why we once decided to entitle our style “Swedish Styled Death Metal”. Compared with our way of writing songs nowadays, it´s obvious that we mix different styles in death metal with a slight touch of black elements, mix it with atmosphere and epic hooklines, base it upon a raging drumming and ready is the music of Fragments Of Unbecoming. We always compose on twin guitar harmonic basics. Some describe us to be the follow-up of At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity or Unanimated. I personally think that we mix different influences from these bands to build up our very own style. “Unique but catchy” is our philosophy. Compositions have to be varied, but catchy. Beauties and beasts always gather or walk side by side, not able to exist without the other. „Beauties“ means epic, melancholy, silence, harmony, breathtaking atmosphere, „Beasts“ means raging speed, aggresive measures, brutal riffing: songwriting beyond monotony, confusing technical competition and false bases of false images! Fragments Of Unbecoming is quite an unusual name for a band. How did you come up with that name and does it have a hidden meaning behind it/a story you'd be willing to share?

Sascha: In the beginning we just wanted to have an unusual name, one that cannot be found within song or album titles of other bands. Actually, millions of bands do that and it´s more than boring. So, for sure it was not easy to find a moniker that sounds yet unheard. Unconsciously, one day I was listening to the lyrics of Edge Of Sanity´s Spectral Sorrows album, namely of the song Darkday, and I heard the vocalist screaming: “...whispers travelling with the wind, like fragments of unbecoming...”. There was no doubt from the first impression on that this could only be the name for my band.

Concerning the meaning, especially ”unbecoming” means not to belong to something clear or obvious at a first sight, something one cannot simply categorize! In our opinion, it fits the best! Your new vocalist Sam Anetzberger previously declined the invitation to join the band on a full time basis. What made him change his mind?

Sascha: Sam always wanted to stay in the band. The only problem always was and still is the lack of time because of also being the vocalist in Legacy and having a full time study! Actually, we demanded him to decide whether to be a permanent member in Fragments Of Unbecoming, or not. Thus, we asked Sam again to enter the band and record vocals for the album. We discussed a lot about problems that could come up because of his double band activity, but finally we agreed that the whole thing works just on a basic organisation. That means, we now plan gigs together with Legacy just to avoid that we got booked at same dates. So, fortunately it was just a matter of time for him to do this important step - to enter „Fragments Of Unbecoming“. All of your releases so far appear to be a 'Chapter' in a story. Can you elaborate on what each of the titles mean, and how especially ”Sterling Black Icon”'s full title relates to the actual album? How did you decide on the titles to your albums?

Sascha: First of all and to be honest, splitting the releases into chapters never was of that deep meaning at all. At that time, we released “Bloodred Tales”, we just came up with the chapter-idea in order to have a - let me say - special title concept. With the “Skywards”-release, we finally made the decision that we could continue using chapter simply because of sequencing the albums. Purpose is, that people who are getting familiar with the band for the first time with e.g. the third chapter may realise that there must exist two chapters before it. There’s no concept, link or red line throughout all the recordings, except perhaps the musical development or the style. Every chapter stands for itself. That’s it.

“Bloodred Tales” was decided to be the album title for the first demonstration release, because it was the best title, especially in combination with the subtitle “The Crimson Season”, we could find referring to the cover artwork, which was already finished before we had any working title. Perhaps, I really like to refer colors to a story. Crimson is one of my ever favorite colors, this is just why I put it into the subtitle.

“Skywards” stood for a movement heavenwards and for a very positive mood in general. I didn’t want to follow all the others by always descending and describing their way to hell in their lyrics. I actually tried out to describe the real opposite. “Skywards” certainly is a Death Metal album, but based on artificial artwork and lyric concepts.

The term “Sterling Black Icon“ somehow is a statement for my personal glorification of the color black or all that is covered with black. It can be the very inside of every single of us as far as everyone can explore it. Furthermore it stands for a shining mystic thing (> “Black But Shining”) whose manifest is obvious and full of complex secrets at the same time – honestly not very easy to describe. For me personally, “black” always was beautiful, universal and full of influence referred to my creativity, it never was negative or only referred to sombre or let me say evil things. It’s even more the opposite: namely full of light and character

This simply is the reason why I decided to entitle an album “Sterling Black Icon”. What inspired you to write ”Sterling Black Icon”? Can you describe your thought process(es) that lead into the finished album?

Sascha: Really not easy to answer. Most of the time I spend composing riffs, I´m definitely in a very positive mood. Having a huge kind of ambition or enthusiasm in mind, I always try to arrange the best harmonics, those that fit the best to our style. Experiencing also is an important element in writing music. I think, we didn´t have that much concrete inspiration in mind to tell you. Of course, there is always the music you are listening to a while that inspires you a bit. On the other hand, we wanted to have the songs more filled with atmosphere. That means, we returned a bit to our roots and distanced more from only complex and technical songwriting. Can you take us through the recording process of the album in detail?

Sascha: This time the recording process was splitted. In September 2005, we started recording the drums in a professional local studio under the watchful eye of Christoph Brandes (who was supposed to take care of the mix and the mastering later on). A first, we had in mind to record the whole album there, but actually the working with the studio guy was not satisfying to a hundred percent. So, after having recorded the drums, we continued in recording the guitars, bass guitars and vocals in our own homestudio “SoundTunnel” which turned to be the best decision. Ingo, the drummer, was engineering the whole process. Right on from the start, we had a very cool guitar sound, one that sounded rough and full of transparence at the same time. By the end of november we entered the Iguana Studios (that already produced the present “Necrophagist”-album some months ago) to mix the stuff together with Christoph. This guy did a very good/satisfying job. Thus, the final mix already sounded nearly perfect. After the mastering was done, everyone in the band was smiling and sure of having recorded the best album so far. The production on ”Sterling Black Icon” highlights the drumming much more than other albums in your genre. Is this something you aspired to do, or can you point out any other reason you chose to mix the album in this manner?

Sascha: To be honest, I do not agree that much. ;-)

For sure, in comparison with other swedish death metal releases (especially those released nowadays), our drumming style is at least different, perhaps more influenced by US death metal. Finally, this is one of the important details that lets us differ from others in the genre. I mean, just tell me one swedish melodic death metal band that refuses to use clean vocals and uses blast beats here and there?

But, there never was a purpose to mix the drums louder than the other instruments. As I opined before, I can´t hear that actually. From the fan's point of view, Sterling Black Icon sounds quite different from your previous releases. But how is this album different to you as a band? Did the recording process affect on your personal relationships within the band? Please expand.

Sascha: Perhaps, the relationship between all the members developed over the years to a very positive and respective state. But I´m not sure if one can refer that to the way we write songs. Honestly, we disagree while composing as often as we did back in the first days of Fragments Of Unbecoming.

Thinking about differences between the brand new and the previous one, on “Skywards” we tried to put many varied stylistic elements into every single song. That perhaps sometimes caused a slight confusion or made the songs here and there a bit difficult to understand. There were comments saying that one may need many listening sessions to get into the songs. On “Sterling Black Icon” we seperated the varied stylistic parts into different songs. Finally, the material got more and more catchy and not less unique. Obviously, it turned out that we took the very strong elements of “Skywards” and tried to more concentrate on this kind of songwriting instead of repeating little mistakes. In addition to that, the newer album definitely is more professional produced, the sound much better fits to the music we play. It´s rough, not overproduced. We call it to be old-school with a slight modern wrapping. Within the band, we furthermore realise that we finally found the way we have to sound. That means, we are on a concrete way for a sophistication. “Sterling Black Icon” at least helped a lot to progress. I think, it´s very important for a band to have a constant basis to be able to work or let me say sophisticate the work. After years, every member knows how to deal with the other ones. Strength and weakness of every single can only become more and more obvious be rehearsing together a lot. I would say we have a really deep relationship what makes the songwriting process to most of the time very relaxing. Many line-up changes are poison for the band! And I´m sure that “Sterling Black Icon” only could proceed with the present line-up! What are your expectations with regards to how successful ”Sterling Black Icon” will be?

Sascha: You might be surprised, but due to the fact that we are not professional musicians concerning the time we can spend in, what means that every single of us has a fixed job, we are more relaxed in thinking about selling numbers or wordwide success. Certainly, we hope, that many people will like the album, that the fan basis is growing a lot, that much more metal fanatics get in touch with the band, simply that the name “Fragments Of Unbecoming” gets more popular worldwide. But, in general we concentrate on writing constantly new material. Actually, we are already writing new material for the fourth chapter which is the main topic as well as the live activity in the upcoming months. Honestly, it´s not easy to speculate about how things will develop, but we´ll do our best to let „Fragments Of Unbecoming“ become a worldwide known band. Hopefully, there will be a chance to tour in the US one day! What is the best show you have ever played?

Sascha: The best shows are those you never would expect them to be the best. I recently made this experience some weeks ago. We did a show together with Sadus and Darkane and the sound, the stage organisation, the playing time, the backline – everything was horrible. Of course, the headlining bands had a different backline, but ours was a catastrophy. I mean, I really was excited experiencing this show, but in the end, there was only frustration. The next day, we played in a very small club, together with a band from finland. What should I say, the audience was killing!!!

The best show ever? I would say, the first festival show at PartySan Open Air and the first support show for the Amon Amarth record release (must have been for “Versus the world”). These two shows where amazing due to the audience that really celebrated every single song that we played! Can you recall a couple of bizarre things that have happened to you while on stage, and describe them in detail?

Sascha: One day, we played in a small village in a small hall on a farmlike area. While performing, the cymbal stand fell off the stage right into Stefan who fortunately was not hurt that much. As a band, you sometimes experience bizarre things: you arrive and the catering is already finished, you don´t even get the money for driving hundreds of kilometers, one time we played before almost 15 people... and so on. What's the worst show you've ever played and why?

Sascha: So far, the worst show was that one I already mentioned before (this one with the falling cymbal stand): the sound was horrible, the organisation a complete joke, the backstage room was that small that only 5 people could take a seat there and 5 bands had to share this room! The hall, the stage and the backstage room were terribly cold, everyone of us had icy fingers during the whole gig. There was nearly nothing to eat and of course no money at all. Fuck of to gigs like this. Fortunately, this was the only horrible one. All the other gigs were cool, some of them really amazing. What are your tour plans for 2006? When will we see you performing in Denmark?

Sascha: Just invite us to come to Denmark and we will start travelling! No joke!

As I answered some questions earlier, touring is a general problem for the band due to the jobs. This is why we focuse more on single shows and festival participations. But who knows, maybe there will be a tour one day...lets wait and see. If you had a choice of supporting any band in the entire world, who would it be and why?

Sascha: I can only speak for myself (I´m sure, Ingo would anounce “Suffocation”) and I think I´d love to support Edge Of Sanity if they still would exist. This was the first death metal band I ever listened to and it would be the greatest pleasure to share stage with them. It´s a pity that I could never attend any show of them. Due to the fact that this formation is already dead, I would select Nevermore simply because of their fascinating music and stage performance. Nevermore for me became one of those bands I can´t get enough of. So, I think this is worse for an experience. If you had a choice of playing anywhere in the world, which country would you like to tour the most and why?

Sascha: The first thing that comes up in mind is “USA”. I´m sure that there is no other country from where we have been getting that much positive, awesome response and wishes to tour in. It seems that some of our fans there would die to have the chance to see us live – a real honour for us. So, no doubt, the first tour has to take us to the states, there´s no choice! ;-) How do you feel about being signed to Metal Blade? What kind of event would trigger you guys to change to another label? If it wasn't for Metal Blade, which label would you want to be signed on the most and why?

Sascha: To get signed by Metal Blade always was that surprise we never even thought of that could happen. This step was bigger than we ever expected. I mean, we justed started the band being a project. After a while, we released one demonstration MCD and Metal Blade offered us a contract. Honestly, there can be no other offer that would let us think about changing the label. Besides, we have signed a deal about five albums. That means, we have to do another three albums for them, there´s no way of quitting! In addition to that, we are very satisfied with their support and work. Being a semi-professional band and taking a look at the progress, there could be no better alternative so far. Would you have asked me this question some years before, I perhaps would have answered that I dream of getting signed by Wrong Again Records or Black Sun Records, just to be on the same label many other influencing bands were on. Do you know of/listen to any Danish bands. If so, which ones?

Sascha: Of course, I know some and listen to:

Hatesphere, Illdisposed, Jeel (do they still exist?), Taetre, Iniquity, Invocator, Withering Surface (R.I.P.), Thorium, etc. If you could choose between being an astronaut, a rock star, or a president/prime minister/king, which one would you choose to be and why? Why would you not want to be one of the other three?

Sascha: I think, I couldn´t be an astronaut, ´cause I´m sure that it´s not allowed to play an electric guitar on Mars, isn´t it? Due to the fact, that I´m not that often listening to Black Metal stuff, I don´t have this certain affinity to bark at the moon. Why then travel to the moon? ;-)

Being president must be a sort of life very far from general artificial basics. Thus, no way for me! I always like to decide to be free, politics are never free at all. In addition to that I don´t want to be confronted with people being jealous because of my high rated state. I just want to be independent.

A rock star has lots of privileges: being famous, being loved by the girls, having money, being known by nearly everyone in the world, etc. – but, to be honest, I´m sure that only success would be boring if you have that in your entire life.

Thus, I prefer to be a quarter rock star with my personal one and only girlfriend, little – perhaps increasing success, a little money and my freedom. That´s it. Thanks for the interview. The last word is yours to let your fans know whatever you want!

Sascha: On behalf of the band, I wish to thank you for the interview, it really was an interesting one!

Stay tuned to our music, hopefully we will play live one day in Denmark – so don´t forget to invite us!

Besides, it would be interesting to know which one of the songs on “Sterling Black Icon” is your personal favourite and why!

And not to forget: we have not been closing the voting for a new cover song. So don´t hesitate to tell us which one you would like to be played by us. But notice: we´ll only cover a song of a band that isn´t active anymore.

Related: "Sterling Black Icon" review

Editor's note: The band would love to hear from you. Send them emails into the following address:

Fragments Of Unbecoming

C/o Sascha Ehrich

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