You know, I like Doom/Death Metal, I really do, the melancholic riffs, dark atmosphere, the often long and extensive passages where you can just let yourself be carried away, but on the other hand many bands have a tendency to play it too safe and firmly stay within the genre’s rather narrow confines, without even being able to offer any hooks to the listener to get caught on and dragged deeper into the album. Thankfully FRAILTY’s “Lost Lifeless Light” is not part of this frustrating second category, but one of those albums that throw out a hook in the first song and I swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
“Lost Lifeless Light” is not just my first contact with the Latvian foursome, but also the full-length debut of the band, so what makes this first track, “I Know Your Pain” so different from the plenty of other bands mongering the doom and gloom of melancholy? The atmosphere, which is built up through a lone lead guitar over a steady, slow rhythm with this dreamy quality that just takes you by the hand and you will follow, no matter what. All of this is accompanied by the deep growls of Martins Lazdans and furthered by the keyboards that form a light backdrop (but never take over) and the willingness of the band to also take all heaviness out of the song and let atmosphere take over, thus emphasizing the heavier passages by contrast. I am not sure, if any of this will make you pick out a song as FRAILTY among 50 bands of the same style, but I don’t care as long as I get served such quality fare, I can tell you that!
Now just like with the mentioned bands that do not take any risks with hooks, all too often a great opener sets too high of a benchmark for the band to live up to for the rest of the album and FRAILTY also are facing this challenge with the next song “Ariadne”. And they do not sink, but definitely swim, because for one they increase the speed for parts of the song and also introduce some clear vocals to accompany the growls, giving the track a completely different feeling than the previous, but on the same high level of quality, so this is shaping up very well! And as much as this may seem like an oxymoron, FRAILTY’s Doom/Death actually has dynamics, through the different vocal styles as well as the varying rhythms and tempos, while maintaining a common ground, take “Graphics In Ebony” as example, where we are treated to heavier and faster eruptions as well as the regular sound of the Latvians, same for “The Fall Of Eve”, where double-bass break through the melancholic mood of the song, to great effect. “Lugsana” at the end is a MONRO cover, I know neither the original artist nor the song, but if it didn’t say that it was a version, I would have thought this to be an original track, as it perfectly fits into the album context.
Overall “Lost Lifeless Light” is definitely one of the best Doom/Death albums of the year, as it has this captivating atmosphere and variety that keeps my attention at all times, while keeping the album together as one tight unit of songs. If you like this style, I heavily recommend this disc, even more so, if you like some variety without breaking out of the genre itself, I hope to hear more of these guys soon!
(Online January 13, 2009)