“The Astronomer” starts things off in a fairly ambitious manner. The seven-minute track establishes the group’s intent of setting up a kind-of astral post-metal landscape across a lighter progressive rock landscape. It has some harder moments such as about three-and-a-half minutes in that brings in more of a doom metal moodiness that nicely compliments the track as more of an experience meant to play more on emotion than anything given how it jumps between extremes in a prog rock story-driven approach. This stands as an alright welcoming track, but it also as one of the few good ones. Sadly, it doesn’t exactly end on the strongest conclusion either (a telling sign of turbulent waters ahead).
“Binary Collapse” starts off relatively dark off the heels of “Betelgeuse” (which we’ll get to), but picks up to a catchy, albeit fairly generic laid back progressive cut. The song periodically bares its fangs, only to go back to sedated as the pace slows once more as expected. The more you listen, the more you can hear the untouched potential for the sake of a tame outcome. Much of this can be said for “Everywhere and Nowhere” as well. Whenever the music gains a little heat, it also picks up some personality. When it slows down beyond the intro that sounds like a sound test you would see before a band’s live set things go back into that “I wanna to float among the stars in the late night skies” wonderment that offers no major difference to the rest of the album beyond the ending’s more major film synth-driven sci-fi piece.
But of all the songs on this release, “Betelgeuse” is the only one to stand out. At all. This one hits like the score to the tense moments of a stand-off in a western film as the storm clouds roll in, or coping with depression staring down half consumed bottle of alcohol in the eighties. Moody guitar leads steal any hope for a happy ending across over four minutes of absolute misery before the hammering gloom leaves up to let in a moment of serenity as the gunpowder settles on either scene. The only song remotely close to this is the ten-minute long “Critical Mass (That Which Cannot be Created)”. Definitely a slow burn, this one gradually builds to something brilliant that promises an astounding conclusion before ending on a whimper that doesn’t live up to the “hype” in any way.
What it all boils down to is an album full of songs that are simply alright. While Stellar Death show they are a competent duo in writing catchy post-prog music, there’s very little that genuinely stands out other than some chill performances. When the band really taps into a particular emotion, they drive the point home with the greatest of ease. Unfortunately there are so few songs on here like that. Utimately, Fragments of Light is a surprisingly dull experience with brief shining moments of solid musicianship that more often than not have no payoff and one memorable song. It isn’t bad, but there’s so much too similar and too little to pull you back in after the first listen if it even manages to hold your interest that long.