On their new album 1692, the Cleveland group Frayle have concocted a menacing doom metal experience of fairly epic proportions. Vocalist Gwyn Strang’s pristinely earnest singing quickly proves an inescapably captivating part of the subtly otherworldly experience of the record. Combining her startlingly clean vocals with the crushing, determination-wracked guitar and drum onslaughts delivers a somewhat fanciful feel for the record, like pressing play immediately starts transforming the listener’s environment into an exaggerated but thereby extra crystal clear portrait of whatever soul happens to rest at the center.
The music feels like it’s captured that moment of spiritual transformation. Frayle have focused the raw power of crushing doom into this emotionally illuminating experience, where the thick and heavy groove feels like it’s gently but inescapably coaxing out a reaction to the long-running realities that it’s put on display. Deceptive sheens have gotten strikingly pulled back here, as the brief interlude track “Monsters” defines quite well, which features an over-the-top call for violence against sexist abusers delivered with a completely unassuming apparent child’s voice.
Strang’s carefully clean but dynamically sweeping, full vocals help define the well-orchestrated feel on this album. At points across the record like the song “Darker Than Black,” she sings with a soulful croon while her bandmates absolutely crush alongside her with steadily progressing and hypnotic riffs and drum blasts that carry the thickness of an only barely metaphorical crater getting carved out in the earth. Her lyrics about turning towards emotional darkness add another layer, circling back to the band’s grim horizon.
They’ve focused their energy on delivering this inescapably elevating experience, where the thick music gets so crushing-feeling that it can’t help but feel psychologically disorienting too. Frayle sound like they’ve especially jumped ahead because once they’ve accomplished their disorientation, Strang’s vocals and the steadiness of the music, even given its mountainous weight, draw listeners right back into the range of 1692‘s delicate exhilaration. The feelings are somewhat like a subtly everyday kind of thing, like the band have sought to craft an infusion of thrilling energy from a justice-infused netherworld that’s poignantly direct enough to feel ready to get metaphorically toted around throughout daily life, like some kind of talisman against those who’d push you down. It’s crushing, but not overwhelming — mountainous, but emotionally intimate. 1692 delivers a wonderfully memorable experience.
Check out the music below! It’s available via Aqualamb Records and Lay Bare Recordings.