Fixation – ‘More Subtle Than Death’ [Album Review]

Review: Jack Price

The world has well and truly gone mad. The lines between fact and fiction are blurred with each day that we get closer to the end of 2023.

Sceptics and theorists are quoted as professionals, greed and corruption runs rampant all over the world. After years of hard work and toil, Norwegian rockers Fixation are finally primed to release their album More Subtle Than Death into the world, determined to open the eyes to the absurdity of modern life. Boldly addressing the blindness of society and acknowledging the contention in views that create sensations of hopelessness and fear across the globe, Fixation’s message of keeping hope, staying true to oneself and finding strength in ourselves rings true throughout the album.

Impending Fallout opens the record to the distorted vocals of Jonas W Hanson as disorientating sounds shadow the track before an orchestral symphony of strings and pounding drums join the fray, growing and swelling before the track abruptly ends. Ola Dønnem opens More Alive with a beautifully executed thumping drumroll leading into the track.

With guitars reminiscent of early 30 Seconds To MarsFrom First To Last and other similar early 2000’s alt metal bands, guitarists Tobias Østerdal and Martin Stenstad Selen blaze through the track with simple but enjoyable chord progression. Carrying the verses, Martin Gravdal adds a layer of doom to the gloomy ambience. Lyrically, Hanson brings a message of avarice projected by corporations and the warning of chasing fame and stardom.

The messages portrayed throughout the album are well lyricized in catchy choruses and operatic bridges. Verses aren’t shrouded in metaphors, rather straight to the point and in the face of the listener in a reassuring and cautionary manner. Also touching on the hardships that come with modern life, Bleed adds a more soulful touch to the album, swelling from light synth keys with Jonas softly singing his message of torment and sadness. As the track grows ominous in texture, the growth in the lyrics turn to self doubt, blame and finally strength within to overcome the boundaries of suppression.

Claustrophobic gives some angstier lyrics with an almost pop punk presentation and arrangement. As Hanson delivers some beautiful vocal work, the guitars in this track stand out from the rest of the album – heavy where they need to be but soft and complimentary to the frontman’s smooth vocals through the verses and growing into meaty chugs and fast paced fret tapping towards the chorus. The combinations and melding of genres add a touch of angst to an album already projecting a high level controlled anger and frustration.

In almost a polar opposite to the start of the album, the closing track Dystopia is operatic and clear. Tones of control and suppression are unmistakable in the lyrics, delivered in angelic pitches by Hanson. The chorus erupts after a brief moment of silence, crying a message of warning for the future of this generation and those to come, the disregard for our planet and the human race’s survival at the risk of our own demise. A final message from Jonas, “We are the parasite” as the track abruptly ends is thought provoking and haunting.

There is something beautifully haunting about this album, perhaps it’s the harbouring of the end of the world at the hands of man, hellbent with greed. Maybe it’s the long, grievous road the Fixation have endured to assemble the 9 track foreboding album that is More Subtle Than Death. Whatever it is, it’s made for a cracking listen that feels both fresh yet familiar. If the messages in these tracks are heard, perhaps there is hope for us yet.

FIXATION – ‘‘More Subtle Than Death’ on September 8 via Indie Recordings