When you’re incessantly bombarded with so many review requests, it's literally impossible to check them all out. So, an edge with any particular request... maybe a quirky press release, an interesting band name, or eye-catching cover art… something that immediately captures the attention counts for a hell of a lot. With Frayle's new EP, 'The White Witch', it's most certainly the latter. The cover’s strikingly effective, it must be said. That and the mention of doom + Portishead in press blurb. A doom metal version of Portishead? Yes, please... bring it on!
Frayle only formed last year and are a mere duo - comprised of Sean Bilovecky & Gwyn Strang. This is their debut EP and, from the off, with the first track, ‘Let the Darkness In’, it’s immediately evident that this is neither straight doom nor Portishead-affiliated in its musical aesthetic. It’s not down tempo enough to comfortably fit within doom expectations, and it’s uncertain just where the Portishead influence is at work. However, it’s all so very hauntingly atmospheric. Strang’s vocals can come across as a little dreary and uninspired at times as there’s zero oomph to be heard in her delivery… however, this works a treat for the music, and accentuates its haunting atmosphere. Perhaps I should’ve said “dreamy” rather than “dreary”.
The following song, which is the EP’s title track, turns up the doom quota good and proper, with its much more down-tempo impetus. And the doom/Portishead influences converge on the next track… inherently so, as it’s a cover of Portishead’s ‘Wandering Star’. A good one at that. And then the EP closes with ‘Things That Make Us Bleed’ which, like ‘Let the Darkness In’, is at the up-tempo limits of doom’s parameters.
‘The White Witch’ has been quite the surprise. A very welcome surprise. Nicely produced, well-composed, and perfectly executed in the performances, Bilovecky and Strang have succeeded in transcending their influences and genre affiliation to deliver something that little bit different. Mystically emotional and steeped in finely crafted melancholy, Frayle are one to watch. Let’s hope a full length release follows in the not too distant future.
Lay Bare Recordings
THE WHITE WITCH
Review by Mark Holmes
15th June 2018
1) Let the Darkness In
2) The White Witch
3) Wandering Star
4) Things That Make Us Bleed
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Mystically emotional and steeped in finely crafted melancholy, Frayle are one to watch."