Review: Frayle – The White Witch

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Label: Seeing Red Records / Lay Bare Recordings

It approaches, slowly; shrouded in mist, moving with feline grace, the music of Frayle comes forward like a spirit, though whether it is avenging or angelic is unclear. The White Witch is  simultaneously of heaven and hell; of grace and destruction; of the most terrible devastation, and the most redemptive blessings. Though it may be defined in large part by crushing, glacial riffs, and a sense of weight that plants it firmly within doom metal, this EP also draws from some unexpected influences, making it a record that feels true to the genre whilst also taking it in new directions, and is quite a wonder to behold.

Each of the four tracks on The White Witch moves with purpose, albeit one that is content to take its time. The pace is slow, with the riffs and drum crashes having plenty of room to echo, lingering like spirits crossing over from another realm, leaving their imprint on this world even as they move on. As heavy as things get – and they most certainly get heavy – there is always a sense of space, which is especially important the vocals. Sung with an ethereal air, they are never commanding in the typical sense of boisterousness, but they achieve this instead by being captivating and charismatic; the sound of some alien wonder come to earth. Their beauty makes the darkness and weight of the surrounding music all the more effective due to the sense of contrast, which creates a dream-like quality to The White Witch that has as much in common with shoegaze, Chelsea Wolfe or Portishead as it does anything considered metal.

All of this combines to make Frayle’s music sound so incredibly vital, moving with an urgency even at its most glacial. The contrast between the beauty of the vocals and heaviness of the surrounding music results in the EP feeling deeply cathartic, the build-ups of the verses giving way to life-affirming choruses and moments of release. It is a remarkably strong debut release, and I can’t wait to hear what Frayle come up with next – this has the potential to be huge.

The White Witch is due for release on 15 June 2018, and is available on CD and digital via Seeing Red Records.

 

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