In Vivid Clarity – Fragments Song Review

Hailing from River County, CaliforniaIn Vivid Clarity is bringing you some amazing progressive metalcore. They have released a single named “Fragments” and it is awesome. I will break down this amazing single into vocals, drums, bass, guitars, and electronic elements. Like in my previous reviews, I will look at the single from a production and songwriting standpoint as I am a pro audio engineer, so there might be some things that average listeners might have missed in their listens of the single. Let’s dive right in!

Let’s discuss the female vocalist first. She is a powerhouse. While the general feel of the whole single falls safely into the “Spiribox” side of prog metalcore, In Vivid Clarity’s singer makes sure she is not ripping off 

Spiritbox. Her singing is clearly her own. I honestly heard a lot of Spencer Sotelo of Periphery in the catchiness of her vocals, but still heard some of Courtney Laplante’s vocals of Spiritbox in her falsetto and mix voice. The marriage of these two styles is great and helps set the band apart from other Periphery and Spiribox rip-off artists. Her vocal runs in the chorus and adlibbing were amazing as well. Her vocals were not just for atmosphere, but also to standout and to stand alone by themselves. Great job here!

The second vocalist is the screamer/growler. The dude nails it. I was so impressed with his tone and clarity in the mix. His screams, while I think are typical to the genre, are executed to perfection and are perfectly placed in the song from a songwriting and production standpoint. I especially loved his high screams. His vocals as a lead scream over on top of the other layered screams made his vocals sound monstrous.

Something that I thought was very interesting about his vocals was his vocal placement in the stereo image. If you don’t know what this means, then I can explain. The stereo image is where you hear an instrument in a mix. It includes both depth and panning. (Left ear or right ear for instance) Most of his vocals were only in the left and right ear at the same time, which was very different from the female singer being primarily in the center of the stereo image. This was a great production choice as it gave him a space in the mix where your ears can expect to hear him. It is typical in metal music to mix aggressive vocals center panned for lead vocals and then only add left and right ear vocal layering to emphasize a part. Instead, In Vivid Clarity did the opposite of that, which made for a more interesting listening experience for the aggressive vocalists. Whether you noticed it or not, this small change in the production from a normal metal production made the experience more listenable.

The drums sounded great! Like any other good metal mix, the kick drum did not dominate the bass guitar. I really liked this drummer’s style. He is a great example of what great, in the pocket, drumming does for a song. There were absolutely no unnecessary moments of technicality. I enjoy it when I see musical restraint that serves the purpose of the music. The drums don’t need a lot of fills or blast beats for instance because, if there were any, it would have killed the feel and groove the song had to maintain. This being said, he did have moments of subtle technicality that didn’t detract from the song. Like, I loved his subtle ride cymbal work he added between the 4/4 patterns he was doing on the crash and china cymbals. It was these small moments that were scattered throughout the song, that made it more interesting to listen to over and over again. The sign of a good prog metal band, to me, is when I can pick out many different things that I did not notice within the first few listen-throughs. The drummer helps carry this idea forward. Great job on the drums!

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In Vivid Clarity Band Art

Next is the bass guitarist. He did a great job, and I thought his tone was spot on for what the mix needed. He matched the electric guitars when needed for the technical moments and break downs, but also added his own moments of melody during more open sections that I thought were cool. His tone was outstanding. This mix has a lot going on it in, so finding the right amount of treble, mids and bass tones can be hard. His low end was huge and filled up the low-end space perfectly. The mid and low-mid tones were perfect for not conflicting with the kick drum and low growling vocals. The hardest part, in my opinion, of mixing bass is what to do with the treble frequencies and high bass overtones. I thought they made a good choice by not having too much going on in the high overtones other than, what sounds like, some pick hits on the bass strings. These percussive hits are essential for breakdowns and following the electric guitar, but also made the bass stand out during the melodic, open sections. It wasn’t overbearing in any way and did not take up the space of the vocals, cymbals, and electric guitar. Great job from a production standpoint and from a playing standpoint as well.

The guitars were very solid. Like with what I said about the bass, the electric guitar has your typical djent tone in the distortion and high clean tones. His playing was very clean, and I loved his bouncy riff writing. What helped his guitars stand out to me were two things, the high-end clean ambiance, and his open melodic sections.

The clean tones made it feel like I was in outer space, which is not atypical of this genre of course. I liked his use of 16 notes and tons of reverb and delay that slowly decayed into the distance. This is a little bit different from what I normally hear when listening to djenty music, which is big open chords that are normally just either whole or half notes. The constant picking, combined with the long reverb and delay, helped fill out the sound and added the perfect mood to what a part needed.

This is a guitarist that is not afraid to go for the 8th note open chords during the open chorus. The song was not just a chug-fest the whole time. The open sections, provided by the guitar, added a lot of open space from a song composition standpoint. This allowed the clean singing to help stand out more. Overall, great production and songwriting choices being made here.

The last thing I want to mention was In Vivid Clarity’s use of electronic drums and keys in their music. The best example of this was during the chorus. During this time the drummer is just doing a normal 4/4 pattern on the drums, so nothing too of out the ordinary. Instead of having him add some extra cymbal work, then decided to make a cool production choice and went for a cool, almost trap style drum hit that gave the chorus an extra sense of catchiness and grove that the rest of the band was not providing. I also really enjoyed the synths during the breakdowns as well. The breakdown section had a lot of atmospheres provided by the synth. The synth was washed in long reverb that decayed over time, but also gave the breakdown a distinct 8th note feel that was not present in the drumming during that section. These extra 8th notes made me feel like the breakdown did not lose any momentum, even when it was full like the band went into halftime. It is extra subtleties like this that help elevate a song beyond what it could be if these elements were not included.

In Vivid Clarity – Fragments Song Review

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In Vivid Clarity – Fragments Album Front Cover

Overall, great work and solid representation from In Vivid Clarity and their single Fragments. This clearly showcases a band that has what it takes to put out an amazing EP or full-length record. I am excited to hear more of what In Vivid Clarity has to offer us in the future.

Review by: Adam Driskell of Circles of Namibia

In Vivid Clarity – Fragments Song Review