The dark rock/doom stylings of Cleveland, Ohio’s Frayle have come creeping into the light, with their debut full length 1692, coming out on February 14th through Lay Bare Recordings and Aqualamb Records. A record that draws influences as far and wide as Cocteau Twins, Kyuss, Chelsea Wolfe and Sleep, they straddle a thin line between rumbling doom and almost dreamy, ethereal pop sensibilities.
The hypnotising drone of the introduction, coupled with the whispering vocals, leads us perfectly into the haunting dark rock gloom of the title track. Vocalist Gwyn Strang has a gorgeous voice, at once both eerie and yet fragile and beautiful. It flows in perfect synchronicity with the bleak drive of the guitar work. Gods Of No Faith adds in some male growls, but the main focus is always that ghostly interplay between the heavy and the light. Darker Than Black is my favourite track here by far; riffs swaying in hallucinogenic atmospheres while dense drumming underpins probably the best vocal performance on the album.
This is a record that has become addictive over multiple listens. There has always been an important place for female voices in doom; the fragile nature of the style lends itself well to the more haunting female vocal, but there is something special about Frayle‘s contributions. It isn’t just big riffs but a more nuanced approach, allowing the heaviness to build not just from the guitar but from Strang‘s storytelling.
Gwyn Strang has a gorgeous voice, at once both eerie and yet fragile and beautiful. It flows in perfect synchronicity with the bleak drive of the guitar work…
Weaving tales of anger, heartbreak, resolution and hypocrisy, she adds that intangible that takes 1692 away from the crowd and into a space that they alone inhabit. The brooding Burn takes you in directions you wouldn’t expect, as does the gentle gloom of If You Stay. But it is the Triptykon-esque darkness pervading parts of Godless that really gets to me in a primal way.
1692 is a record that will stay with me all year. It gives me the same feeling as when I heard Mount Salem’s Endless for the first time a few years ago; I didn’t know music could be this bleak and yet so beautiful. Frayle conjure those same feelings, and for that makes this a real gem.
As they say themselves, this is a place to feel vulnerable amongst the chaos, and that is a welcome sight indeed.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson