I don’t know how much it says for me, but whenever I look at a track list and see “Prologue” at the top, I know I’m in for a good time. There’s something magical about concept albums; they may be one of the most divisive subjects in musical arguments but I love them.
I’m fairly blown away initially from the first proper track, The Expedition, as I thought this was going to be a power metal affair and when I was hit by the crushing riff and growls I was shocked. I’m not wrong as I’ll come to learn over the coming tracks, and even later into the song. Well in a way I am, it’s not power metal, it’s not death metal, it’s impossible to pin just what the hell they are and frankly that’s pretty cool. A lot of the bands I’ve reviewed in 2014 have been like that and it’s no bad thing.
What is a highlight of this album, at least in my eyes, is how the growls mix with the clean vocals. My pet hate is when you have a growler and a whiner, not a singer, a whiner. They croon out these awful cheesy lines with horrendous forced sentiment, but there’s not an inch of it here. Proper clean and powerful vocals to compliment the powerful growls, it’s a good match. Looking at the member list, it appears all the vocals are performed by the one singer, making the feat more impressive.
Returning to the opening track though, the middle descends into what I believed was the next song only to discover I was but half way through. The solo section turns into a sweeping magical affair and here lies the second strong point of the album. We get the magical upbeat power metal style melodic solos mixed with brutal death metal riffs, then we’ll get blasted with proggy moments (Freeze Me) mixed with what the promo material describes as “flowing soundscapes” and this is perfect to describe A Rural Trauma.
The Sinister Road is a good example of the above, it almost seems like it’s confused what sub-genre it wants to fit itself into. It’s not “busy” though, sometimes when you get that mix in one song it can be a bit of a clusterfuck for the listener but it flows between with fluidity.
The overall concept of this album seems to be “big.” There’s a wall of sound element to it without being layered. Even the slower passages such as the beginning of Triptych represent this, it’s clean, it’s gentle, it’s sinister and somehow it’s big.
The song of the album is a tricky choice, when listening through the first time I said Origin as it represented what I enjoyed about this album the most, but at this stage I hadn’t reached Emberstorm and really that is the true winner in my eyes. It’s an excellent 8 minute journey that leads us into the epilogue and the end of the album.
I wont say “there’s something for everyone” as there isn’t, it would be a lie. But the range of sounds does give Frail Grounds a wide scope to appeal to a large group of the metal community over a select sub-genre.